He Chose the Moments
When I was a kid, my sisters, cousins, and I used to go to our Grandmom’s house every Friday in the summer or when a day off from school fell on that weekday. Good Friday was always tough because she made us sit quietly from noon to three o‘clock. All we wanted to do was run around and play, but we couldn’t. I knew it had something to do with Christ’s time on the cross but don’t remember being told many details.
I’m not really sure how I learned the basics of Christ’s crucifixion. Probably through church or maybe my parents shared them with me. Because of the jealousy of the Jewish religious leaders, they wanted to kill Jesus. But they didn’t have the legal authority to do it. So they made up charges and handed Him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who ordered His execution. I believed the Jews were the ones who took His life but could see how the Romans were also guilty. Then I read some passages in the gospels and realized just how wrong I was.
Jewish law required that no one could be put to death on the testimony of just one witness. There had to be two or three (Deut 17:6). Mark 14:55-56 tells us: The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. (NIV) What would they do? How could they get what they needed to crucify Christ? From Jesus Himself.
Mark 14:60-64: Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" … "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death. (NIV)
He chose the moment when the mock trial ended and the prophesied beatings and crucifixion began.
After suffering on the cross for hours, Luke 23:44-46 describes how Christ’s torture came to an end: It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour [noon to three o‘clock], for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (NIV)
He chose the moment when His life would end. No one took it from Him. He willingly gave it.
In John 10:17-18 Jesus said, The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (NIV)
Everything played out as the Almighty had planned and prophesied. Jesus wasn’t a victim. He went like a lamb to the slaughter (Is 53:7) to fulfill the will of God that would bring salvation to man. As we consider the horrific time our Lord spent on the cross this Good Friday, may we feel the weight of our sin and the high price Jesus paid for it. But may we also rejoice in the truth that He chose the moments that ended His life on earth… and He did it for us.
Just something that’s too amazing to fully comprehend along the way.