As we approach the Christmas season, there are many who will celebrate the birth of Jesus. While I don’t agree Jesus was born in December, I do know He was born and that’s a reason to be thankful. I’m more grateful Jesus died than that He was born. Stay with me for a second.
Imagine that the Messiah was born – He fulfilled all the prophecies about His birth. He lived His life and fulfilled all the prophecies of Isaiah and the Old Testament seers. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and gave sight to the blind. He taught and exemplified the love of God the Father for His children. Fast-forward three and a half years to the Garden of Gethsemane –
He knew His death was imminent
and so He prayed. But instead of saying “Not my will Lord but thine be done.”
He said, “Not my will Lord, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to die.” The
entire plan of salvation would have come to a screeching halt in an instant.
If Jesus had not died of His own free will, you and I would have been lost
So, I’m thankful for Jesus’ willpower. I’m thankful that though He was, at that moment, human as we are, He did not give into the flesh. He didn’t step back from the pain, torture, and humiliation which lay ahead. Instead, He leaned into it because He loved us.
I’m grateful Jesus did not call on the legions of angels who stood ready to do His bidding. I'm glad He did not ask them to take Him away from Jerusalem.
I’m awed because God the Father, who knew the pain His Son would face at Golgotha, allowed Him to go to Jerusalem. As a parent, I know how difficult it is to watch my child take a path which I know leads to difficulty, so I’m happy God did not throw Himself in the path between Jesus and His persecutors.
I’m thankful God the Father - who is all-powerful - restrained Himself from saving His Son from crucifixion.
Death by crucifixion was one of the most heinous ways to die in the ancient world. Before a person was crucified they would first be scourged. The person was whipped with a flagellum - a handle, to which several cords or leather thongs were affixed.
The cords were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal, to make each blow more painful and effective. In his weakened condition, the condemned would then have to walk with his cross to the site of his execution.
As they nailed him to the cross, his bloody, torn back would press into the base of the cross. Can you imagine the pain? He would be trying to balance His weight on a pole while bearing the pain of nails driven through His hands and feet.
Why did God allow His Son to go through that? Why did Jesus willingly subject Himself to the agony of a crucifixion? It’s because He loved us.
We only have an inkling of an idea what death on a cross feels like. Movies, paintings, and people who get “crucified” once a year, portray a "clean" version of death on a cross. They attempt to belittle the sacrifice of a Savior who died for our sins.
The naysayers claim it couldn’t have happened the way the Bible says it
did. The scoffers claim four hours was much too short for someone to die by
crucifixion. How long could they have lasted on a cross with their flesh torn
to pieces and bearing the sin and shame of the whole world?
I believe the biblical account of Jesus’ crucifixion is real. I know the person on the cross should have been me-
So I worship the God who loved me so much He would die for me. I’m thankful Immanuel was born and became “God with us”, but I’m oh, so much more grateful for His death on a cross.