Unique Death (Isaiah 53)
Crucifixion completed Jesus’ earthly life in apparent humiliation. No human body could withstand its life-sapping horrors without a miracle, but no miracle came then for Jesus. He, the Lifegiver, gave up His spirit with the final words, “It is finished.”
Eight centuries earlier, Isaiah had written that this Man would be a “man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering”. That, “by oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
It’s pretty clear that the crucifixion was no surprise to Jesus. He knew the plan for Easter long before His crucifiers or their ancestors were born. He’d had an eternity prior to His earthly life to think about the “oppression”, “crush(ing)” and “suffer(ing)” He would be enduring as part of the plan for Easter.
Imagine that for a moment. Why would anyone do it? Why would God bother with the effort of rescuing a race gone awry, especially when it would cause Him such personal sacrifice in the rescuing?
There is only one answer: Love.
God, the personification of the deepest and truest of love, cares about you and me. He designed each of us for so much more than any of us have experienced yet, and He hated to stand by and watch us self-destruct. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Not that He was the only person ever crucified. It is estimated that many thousands of people have died by crucifixion. In the year 70 A.D. alone, five hundred people daily met their slow, excruciating deaths by that inhumane method of execution.
But He alone did it out of perfect love for a world of people who didn’t even realize their own hopeless condition.
Not only is His love totally inclusive toward every person ever conceived, it is also completely effective. It has the power to restore each of us to the relationship with Him we were designed to have—if we will accept it. Included in that, relationship with God means accessing His version of life which is unending; it means escaping our own unnatural mortality, and finding our life becoming eternal.
Imagine being loved by One who knows all our secrets, all our weaknesses and foibles, all our insecurities and stumblings, yet His love not diminishing one bit.
Imagine being loved by One who experienced the horror of death on our behalf, in order that death could become for us a passage from the shadow lands into the great expansive eternal existence with Him.
Doesn’t that change our perspective on Easter? Doesn’t that give us a clue as to why the day we commemorate as Jesus’ death is called ‘Good Friday’?
The love of God for you and me, expressed in the willing death of Jesus, is no more explicitly seen than in the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life. It’s not morose to think about it. It’s true and right and proper considering its great significance. What is unseemly and even shameful is when we ignore the essence and magnitude of what Easter really is. We do a disservice to ourselves and to God’s love when we fail to think deeply about what He did for us that first Easter.
Don’t despair. It’s not all death and darkness. That is only the first part of Easter. There is more to His plan. There is even more to His love. Are you ready to hear about it?
(Photo Credit: “Fred Holland Day- Last Seven Words” by F. Holland Day – Frizot: Neue Geschichte der Fotografie, Köln 1998, S.302. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fred_Holland_Day-_Last_Seven_Words.jpg#/media/File:Fred_Holland_Day-_Last_Seven_Words.jpg)