As a child growing up in an observant Jewish home, Jesus had been to Jerusalem many times.
This time, however, would be different. This was not a pilgrimage to the Temple for worship. This was the march to the cross. The men would see more than the usual spectacle of sacrificial lambs and goats and pigeons. They would witness the slaughter of the Lamb of God. The words of Isaiah would no longer be an obscure prophecy of indeterminate meaning. They would witness the exact fulfilment of the prophet’s words concerning Messiah.
- His face, so kind and handsome that it flashed friendly flames when He spoke of the Kingdom, would be so marred by the hands of men that there would be nothing attractive left in it.
- His lean, strong body, shaped by hard work and long hours in the carpenter’s shop would be bruised and pierced, hammered and battered beyond recognition.
- Even His closest followers would turn away from His ruined visage and broken body; those who professed to love Him would reject Him.
- His Father’s will was in this terrible process for He had to bear the sins of us all and the healing of a hurting world would be won in the stripes He would bear.
He knew. The Twelve did not.
The men knew the passage but they could not know that the Prophet was talking about Him. If the brightest among them came close to making the connection between their belief that Jesus was Messiah and Isaiah’s disturbing predictions, he would surely dismiss such a thought in a moment. It was much more pleasant to remember the power of God flowing through Jesus and through them! Why couldn’t this go on forever?
Jesus could not leave them to their uniformed reveries. He had to warn them of what awaited them in this pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
- Jerusalem was the domain of the chief priests and scribes—self-exalted enemies of Messiah, protectors of the self-empowering status quo.
- They will arrest Him and deliver Him to the Romans who will execute Him.
- On the third day the religious and political leaders would have a whole new problem on their bloody hands.
Worship in Time and Place
The Old Covenant called for worship in time and place.
- Time: the hours of every day; the weekly Sabbath; the seasonal festivals; and the generational year of Jubilee.
- Place: The home, the local synagogue, and the Temple in Jerusalem as the object of holy pilgrimage.
Messiah would bring a whole new order of worship with a New Covenant to enforce it: Worship in Spirit and Truth.
- Spirit: worship led by and empowered by the Spirit of God resident in the redeemed human spirit.
- Truth: the eternal truth of God flowing in time through the sincere worship of redeemed human beings.
Jesus would open the new way through the ordeal of Calvary–worship at the intersection of Time and Eternity. Beyond our imagination is the truth that a hope of joy would somehow sustain Jesus through these inevitable events—the Hope of communing with His People as they worship. This will be worship in spirit and truth, adaptable to any time and space. And so it has proven to be through 20 centuries.
Mark 10: 32-34 NKJV
Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
Isaiah 53:1-7 NKJV
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
Hebrews 10:19-23;12:1-2 NKJV
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water….Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lord Jesus, my heart overflows with thanksgiving to You for Your unspeakable gift—Your innocent life for our guilty lives. Help me know that when I pray alone at my altar and when I worship with Your saints in the House of God, I am providing You the joy that was set before You in those terrible days—the joy of communing with us in the Secret Place and the Holy Place. Thank You for opening up this new and living way. It cost You so much; may I never neglect so precious and powerful a gift. Thank You, Jesus! Amen and Amen.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Words: Isaac Watts; Music: Lowell Mason
1. When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them through his blood.
3. See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
4. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved