This week is what many proclaim as Holy Week. It is the time when Jesus of Nazareth triumphantly entered into Jerusalem as the people shouted hosanna, placing palm fronds and their outer garments along the entry way into the city, unto the time of Jesus last days on this earth until his trials, torture and His murder. Holy Week culminates in the event of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus on that first Easter morning.
Easter is found only one time in the Bible and that is in Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. The person being put into prison was Paul. The word “Easter” is of Chaldean origin and is translated everywhere else (28 times in 26 verses) as Passover. We derive our current holiday name of Easter from this Chaldean word for Passover.
Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, I preached a message titled “Conversations at the Crucifixion”. As I was studying the last sayings that Jesus spoke while enduring such pain on the cross, I was drawn to all the other conversations taking place as three men were dying. There were conversations from the crowd of onlookers there to viewf the agonizing death of crucifixion that day. There were conversations and accusations from the religious crowd, Chief Priests and Scribes. The soldiers carrying out the punishment even got in on the discussions. The two thieves surrounding Jesus each had something to say and then the man tasked with carrying out the deaths, a Centurion, made the most profound statement after Jesus died. And of course we have the statements of Jesus as His final hours of life were being drawn to a close.
As I marveled at all the activity that was going on around the crucifixion of Jesus, I also made a note of something else that I had never noticed before. I was given a glimpse through the eyes of Jesus of what He saw and the unbelievable truth that day.
There wasn’t a battle going on at Golgotha that day, but a war!
There were people on both sides of the issue that brought Jesus to this death sentence. There were those that believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the Christ and the Son of God, and those that did not. There were two sides.
There wasn’t a battle going on at Golgotha that day, but a war. Soldiers from two different sides had taken their positions, raised their banners and captured in word and deed which side they were on. While there wasn’t an arrow shot, a swing of a sword or a javelin tossed, the battle was real. There was a spiritual war going on and in the balance was the hope of man. God had a simple plan of salvation for mankind and His Son was the perfect offering and sacrifice that God would accept. It was not in the sacrifice of animals but with the GOD-Man, Jesus. The Son of God “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Man could never be good enough to merit Grace, so in the greatest love story of all time, God gave. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The distance between the crowd and Jesus was more than just space. It wasn’t measured in feet and inches, but in eternity.
The scene at the crucifixion of Jesus was more than an execution of a man. The Romans went about the business of death; they had slain many in this same manner in many different locations.
Sides were taken that day. A line was drawn in the sand. On which side would the people choose? On the one side, the crowd, one thief, the Chief Priests and Scribes and the soldiers did not choose Jesus. On the other side of that line, the other thief and those there to worship Jesus made their choice that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.
Jesus had to endure the torments, both mental and emotional, as well as the death of the body. The distance between the crowd and Jesus was more than just space. It wasn’t measured in feet and inches, but in eternity. For those that chose to be on the side that denied Jesus as the Messiah, the eternity that awaits them is in hell. A place of torment that was prepared as punishment for Satan and his demons. For those that accepted that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, they would be on the side of God’s salvation plan for mankind and the eternity that awaits them is in heaven.
So on this second day of April, 2010 I would ask the same question that has echoed through the canyons of time; “Today, which side of that line drawn in the sand are you on? With whom do you associate? The mockers or the Redeemed?”