This year, holy week has made my heart so heavy. I am so unworthy of any sort of grace or mercy, yet Jesus gave it at the ultimate price – his life. Thinking back on the Old Testament and all the regulations and sacrifices that God’s people had to keep in order to be in right relationship with him is overwhelming. How could I keep all those commands? God’s wrath burned hot against his people when they turned away, and until they made their sin offerings, they were unclean in God’s eyes. He destroyed those who rebelled against him, yet showed the most tender love to those who lived a righteous and holy life. Living a consecrated life is outlined so clearly in the Old Testament, yet because of the hundreds of laws, how was it attainable?
Then I think about the perfect love of the Father who had a plan that was prophesied about at the very beginning. Throughout the whole Old Testament prophesies of the coming Messiah gave hope to God’s people – in the moments that God was silent, his people still anticipated their salvation. How discouraging it would be to wait for a Messiah and never see one; to hear stories of God’s abundant faithfulness, signs and wonders, but to be in a season of silence. I wonder how Simeon and Ana felt when they met their Savior as a baby in the temple. The promise of God had finally been fulfilled – but that was just a start.
When Jesus started ministry, he healed the sick, performed signs and wonders, taught, and fulfilled prophesies of old. He walked a completely consecrated and holy life, fully human and fully God. He became the example of evangelism, loving others without judgement, and serving selflessly. But his ministry was just a side show to God’s plan of redemption; after 3 years, his ministry ended in the most loving and beautiful way.
After Israelite festival, Passover, Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot. Jesus was betrayed in such a personal and intimate way, but he already knew this was to happen. God had not hidden his plan from the Son; but oh how Jesus pleaded that the cup of suffering would be taken from him. The sorrow that filled that day, I will never know, but my heart aches knowing that Jesus desired that I would be close to God, so he gave his very life for that cause.
No other sacrifices needed to be made ever again when Jesus hung on the cross. He was the final sacrificial lamb to satisfy the wrath of God once and for all. As Jesus said “it is finished”, my sin became his, and the Father turned away – the sky turned dark, the ground shook, and the temple veil tore. For God had sacrificed the dearest thing to him for my heart and the separation between God and man was forever mended. I pray that the weight of that never evades me.
The story doesn’t just end there, though. Sunday was just around the corner! On the third day, Jesus triumphed over the grave, and death itself became powerless as God’s great mercy was put on full display. How could a holy God love such an unholy people, I will never fully understand, but one thing I know for sure is that because of Jesus’ work on the cross, the Father’s mercy and kindness will always overshadow my shortcomings and failures. My prayer is that you and I would know the love that the Father has for us in greater measures this holy week; that we would be struck with a new awe and wonder of the cross. My hope is that we would recognize the weight of our sins, but even more so the depth of God’s grace . . . For mercy has triumphed.