Easter Devotion - Day 519-04-2019 | Matthew Campbell | YOUTH
The Great Exchange
Read Matthew 27:11-26
A favorite film of mine is one called 'The Guardian.' Perhaps you have seen it. Released in 2006, The Guardian follows the journey of a budding Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Jake Fischer, in his early days of training. Jake's relationship with the head trainer, Ben Randall, starts a little frosty but, as the movie develops, Jake develops a strong respect for the highly esteemed coach. By the end of the movie, both Jake and Ben are working for the Coast Guard together and, whilst out on duty in a seriously stormy night, Ben sacrifices his own life for his student. I dare you to try and watch it without shedding a tear!!
Sacrificing your life for someone else is, perhaps, the greatest display of love imaginable. On Good Friday, we remember that someone did that very same thing for us. However, we shouldn't draw close parallels between Jesus sacrificing his life for us and a friend sacrificing his life for a friend, or a husband sacrificing his life for his wife or, as was the case in this movie, a trainer giving his life for his student. Jesus' sacrifice is infinitely greater. Why? Jesus is God himself! God has no right to suffer. God is God! Yet, as we have been reminded throughout our passages this week, it was our sin that led Jesus to the cross. Such is the love of Jesus Christ!
I wonder is it possible that, as you're reading this devotion, you don't realize just how much God loves you? As you reflect on the events of Good Friday, here's 3 ways we should be reminded that Jesus loved us:
- His Silence (v11-14)
Already at this point, Jesus has underwent a series of false trials, all of which go against government law. By verse 11 he is standing before Pilate, the governor. Pilate is the one who has the power to free Jesus at this moment. Not just that, every indication we get from the text suggests that Pilate knows Jesus has done no wrong. This should be good news, right? This means Jesus will be able to go free!! Yet, what becomes abundantly clear in this passage is that Jesus makes no attempt to be freed. Pilate makes a number of accusations against Jesus, none of which are true, and how does Jesus respond? Verse 12 says, 'he gave no answer.' Verse 14 adds, 'But he gave no response.'
I hope you see the significance in Jesus' silence. What you discover as you read the Bible is that there is infinite and ultimate power in Jesus' words. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus speaks and the blind can see. Jesus speaks and the deaf can hear. Jesus speaks and the dead are raised to life. This harkens back to the power of God's words in creation. God speaks and this world is brought into motion. There is infinite and ultimate power in God's words. What does this mean as we look at this passage? Well, Jesus has, at his disposal, the necessary power to reverse this situation from his very breath. Jesus could utter a single word and Pilate and the Roman officials would be consumed. Yet Jesus remained silent. He doesn't say a word.
Why? By remaining silent Jesus is willingly going through with this unfair murder. This isn't an accident. Jesus said in John 10:18, 'no one takes my life from me, I lay it down by my own accord.' Why is Jesus going through with this unfair trial? Such is his love for people like you! He chooses not to use the power at his disposal to cease all of the evil against him.
- His Substitution (v15-23)
Just when you thought the injustice couldn't get any worse, it does. We are introduced to a serial killer, Barabbas. Barabbas is someone who deserves to be in prison, yet Pilate gives the people a choice as to who should be convicted and who should be freed. It is Barabbas vs Jesus and the answer couldn't be any easier. Barabbas is a serial killer, Jesus hasn't even had an impure thought. Yet the depths of human depravity becomes as evident as they possibly could - the people choose for Barabbas to be freed and Jesus to be convicted.
If you are anything like me, you wonder how on earth even Barabbas could allow this to happen? Doesn't he feel any guilt? Doesn't he feel any shame. Yet, the reality is, you and I are just like Barabbas! Just as Jesus substitutes himself for Barabbas, so Jesus substitutes himself for you and I. It wasn't only Barabbas who deserved to be crucified, it was you and I who deserved to be crucified. Those same emotions that I am perplexed Barabbas doesn't demonstrate in this passage are the same emotions I should feel!
- His Suffering (v24-26)
In light of everything Jesus has done and will do in this Gospel account, Pilate asks the single most important question that any human being could ask in verse 22. 'What should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' Unfortunately, however, Pilate makes the wrong choice. He decides to be swayed by the voices of the crowd. In fact, Pilate does what so many people still do today. By way of appeasing his own conscience, Pilate rejects Jesus in a way which makes him feel like he isn't rejecting Jesus. He passively 'washes his hands' and, thus, claims innocence of Jesus' blood. However, as Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:30, 'you are either for me or against me.' There is no such thing as sitting on the fence as a means of minimizing your guilt or responsibility. People today may say, 'I haven't rejected Jesus, I just haven't really considered him.' Yet, there is no room for passivity when it comes to your relationship with Christ.
The decision is left to the people. What do they decide? That Jesus should be scourged and crucified! The crucifixion process was a brutal one. In fact, the word excruciating was only created as a means to describe how painful crucifixion was. In other words, we didn't possess any word which could adequately convey how horrific this process was that we needed to invent a new one. What's worse, history shows how the Romans were so skilled in causing pain that they knew how to cause you maximum pain without death. This meant that the crucifixion process was dragged out for hours, sometimes even days.
How did Jesus love you on Good Friday? He remained silent to receive injustice so that you could receive mercy. He acted as your substitute, trading places with you. Finally, he bore the full weight of God's wrath at the cross so that we could know forgiveness.
Questions For Reflection
'No one takes my life from me, I lay it down by my own accord' (John 10:18) How does this shape your understanding of the cross?
You and I are just like Barabbas. How does this add weight to how much you needed spiritual rescue?
Meditate on the events of the cross. Take time to thank God for his finished work of Salvation.