It was a sad, solemn day, and everyone who believed in Jesus, who had hoped that he was the world’s savior, their champion, watched in unbelief as Jesus said, “It is finished,” hung his head, and died.
It was impossible; Jesus had appeared on the scene, and everything started changing. Water was turned into wine, deaf people were hearing, blind people were seeing, disabled people were running around like Olympians and lepers, yes, lepers were reunited with their families.
The crowds followed him everywhere he went, hanging unto his every word. He was not only healing physical sicknesses but also making people spiritually whole. Daily, Jesus was transforming lives. The attention that Jesus was getting brought out the religious leaders’ hatred and jealousy. He called them hypocrites for not practicing what they preached and chased them out of the temple for buying and selling in his father’s house. They wanted him dead.
Jesus never appeared worried, and neither did his disciples. They were convinced that Jesus was untouchable- and they were right. Jesus himself said in John 10: 18, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily, for I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also take it up again. For this is what my father has commanded.”
The week leading up to this sad occasion started with a jubilant celebration. Jesus, who had visited Jerusalem on many other occasions, this time received a welcome fitting for a King, as he rode in on a colt with crowds of people waving branches, laying their clothes on the ground for him to ride on and crying ” hosannah in the highest” bringing to pass the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by Zechariah in Zech 9:9.
The rest of the week went by in a flurry. Jesus cursed the fig tree, and the next day the disciples marveled that it had dried up from the roots. Judas began to bargain with the Sanhedrin to betray him. There was the big Passover dinner, and Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. However, Things started to heat up when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. It looked like the situation would worsen, and Jesus would not miraculously free himself, as he was led away and hauled before the court. Peter, his trusted disciple, denied him.
The man who had boldly declared in John 8: 58 ” before Abraham came to be I Am .” was spat upon, blindfolded, slugged, slapped by members of the Sanhedrin, and then beaten by the guards. A crown of thorns was eventually placed upon his head, puncturing his brow in the process.
As if that was not enough pain and suffering, Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged. Early historians attested that this flogging was a most dreaded punishment. Bits of lead and stone made the whip a brutal, slashing instrument of terror, ripping a man’s back and legs to shreds. Jesus was led like a sheep to the slaughter and still had to carry his own cross.
It was too much for him, and he stumbled and fell and eventually had to get assistance to carry his cross. It must have been a pathetic sight for all who loved him to see their champion suffer at the hands of his captors.
They followed from a safe distance, and I believe they were asking themselves when he would do something to end the public embarrassment and ridicule he was enduring.
Their hopes were dashed as they got closer to Golgotha and saw the soldiers and the other two crosses already in place. It looked as if there was going to be no turning back.
His Mom wept as she watched him strapped to the cross. The crowd gasped in horror as the cruel soldiers began nailing his hands and feet. He cried for water, and they gave him vinegar. His Mom still remembered his first miracle; she was right there. How come he was not doing anything to save himself?
It appeared that even one of the two criminals who were to be crucified with him was disappointed in his actions. “why can’t you save yourself and us?” he cried. With his last breath, the other criminal said words that still make a difference today “Remember me, when you come into your Kingdom,” and Jesus responded with assurance that ” today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Then the unimaginable happened. Jesus hung his head and died.
I believe that as the crowds slowly dispersed, many must have been wondering how did this happen. How can this man, who performed so many miracles, take five loaves of bread and two fish and not only feed 5000 people, but had twelve baskets left over, allow himself to be so brutally crucified? It just did not make sense. I’m happy that he stayed on the cross- coming to his defense and down from the cross would have meant eternal damnation for you and me.
I imagine the scene in hell was one of jubilation- finally, they had Jesus, they had won, and the world and everything in it would be theirs forever.
While Jesus’s body was in the grave, his spirit was busy; Colossians 2:15 tell us that he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities and publicly shamed them by his victory over them on the cross.
Things slowly returned to normal on the Sunday after Jesus’s death and burial. People were still talking about the strange happenings that had taken place on Friday, while Jesus’s disciples were still confused and in fear. Then Mary Magdalene came and brought some peculiar news, the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, and she had seen Jesus himself walking in the garden. He told her to go and say to his disciples and Peter that he was alive, resurrected, just as he had said when he walked with them before his death. Then as they sat huddled in a closed apartment for fear of the Jews, pondering this information, Jesus appeared to them through the locked door and said, “Peace be with you.” He was alive. He won the victory over sin, death, and hell for anyone who would believe.
Jesus went to battle on the cross and won. On our behalf, He defeated death (eternal separation from God), the punishment of sin, which was the last enemy of the believers.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT2) 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other words, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
As I reflect on his death and resurrection, I am thankful that he endured all that he suffered so that people like you and me can have hope not only in this life but also enjoy eternal life in the hereafter.
The dictionary defines a Champion as ” a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition.”
Jesus, Our Champion, Defeated Sin and Death for Us so we can have eternal life. He is our Champion of Champions.