He is alive!

Published 8:13 pm Saturday, March 30, 2013

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

Even the killers and the bystanders were shocked by the words. They knew death to be a fearful thing, but they did not know the innocent One who was being crucified.

It was a Jewish feast time, a time of celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from the land of Egypt. A lamb was sacrificed in commemoration, and there was usually a joyful celebration. But this day, there was anger in the air. A crowd stood by, watching as the Creator was crucified.

Email newsletter signup

Neither Pilate nor Herod had found anything in Jesus worthy of His death. There was a custom that one person should be released during this time. Could they not release Jesus? But the bystanders would have none of it, so Pilate gave in to them.

When he wrote “Jesus, the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” he may have written the most truthful thing ever. When he was rebuffed for it, he said, “What I have written, I have written.” Did he think that simple statement would earn God’s forgiveness?

Only a sadist could watch the scene without emotion, but Caiaphas, the high priest was not bothered. In a warning to the religious leaders, he said, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish.” His concern was for preserving their political, religious offices. Little did he know how prophetic were his words.

The Jews had been awaiting their promised Messiah, a leader who would bring peace and conquer the nations that had oppressed them. They thought the time had come for their Messiah to save them. Had they not acclaimed him just a week earlier? When they saw Jesus coming into the city, riding on a donkey as the prophets had said, they had shouted, “Hosanna!”

They believed the time had come for an overthrow of Rome, that Jerusalem would be restored to them. They would live in peace, a fulfillment of all God’s promises.

Two other men were being crucified that day, one on either side of Jesus. Both were judged deserving of death. The middle cross, the one on which Jesus hung, had been reserved for Barabbas, a notable thief and insurrectionist. Barabbas was freed that day, and Jesus was put in his place.

One of the two men hanging there was scornful and hurled abuse at Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other may have had similar thoughts, but he came to faith, believed and cried out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus was able to promise him a place with Him that very day.

While some gambled, a Roman centurion who stood by the cross began praising God, saying, “Truly this man as innocent.” As the crowd finally dispersed, the multitude that had gathered had an epiphany moment and began to beat themselves. Some might even have experienced true repentance and been among the thousands who later came to Christ, as recorded in the book of Acts.

John the Baptist had called Jesus the Lamb of God. Jesus was sacrificed at the same time Passover was being celebrated by the Jewish people.

It is now 2013, and Passover Week is being celebrated by both Jews and Christians. Like those who went to an empty tomb, we know the end of the story. Though we recall the bitter details of Good Friday, Sunday is here, and we sing with joy the news of the risen Christ, the only One who can take away our sins. We will celebrate Resurrection Day.

Like a seed that lies dormant and comes alive to a new life in the spring, Jesus came alive and rose to a new life. One day He will return to Earth, and we who believe will share life with Him.

Because we have the record in our Bibles, we can rejoice with the hundreds of those who saw and heard all that went on in Jerusalem in those days. Take some time and read about those events in the New Testament Gospels.

Myrtle Virginia Thompson lives in Suffolk. Email her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.