STEADFASTNESS DESPITE THE SHAME
‘’Easter’’ signifies an important part of the Christian history and a pivotal stage in the journey of our Lord Jesus Christ while on earth. A time filled with trials, agony, betrayal, silence, battle, and victory.
From Gethsemane where He prayed in agony, even the bible described his ‘’sweats’’ as great drops of blood to Golgotha also known as “the place of skull” where he was shamed to redeem us from eternal damnation.
Should we talk about the events that preceded the Passover such as the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem? Do you remember the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany? Have you flipped through scriptures to read how much Christ was priced and sold? Every event in the final days of Jesus on earth is a story to glean from.
In this piece, we are going to draw out lessons from the lives of those who were around Christ during a key moment in Christendom. These individuals played a role in one of the darkest moment in history and as wisdom is principal in all things, lets us dive into the Word of God to discover why the Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection are important events to acknowledge and remember the Cross and the price paid for us to wear a Crown on the last day.
Mary of Bethany was one of the most beautiful characters during Jesus’ time on earth. During Jesus’ visit to Martha’s house, her sister reported her to Christ because she didn’t join in serving the guests instead she was listening to words that Christ shared. Jesus replied ‘’But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” Luke10:42.
We can’t forget the great faith she demonstrated in Christ through her words in John 11:32b ‘’Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother had not died’’.
Prior to the feast of Passover, Jesus was eating a meal in the house of Simon the leper when Mary came to anoint him with a very precious ointment of spikenard. This ointment was very expensive and it showed that Mary has indeed chosen the good part because she didn’t care about the price of the oil, all she cared about was honoring her Lord.
From Mary, we can see the importance of sacrificial giving because this became a memorial of her life and even Christ acknowledged how he was preparing his body for burial. She didn’t fear what others would think of her instead all she saw was the glory manifested in Jesus Christ.
Mary Magdalene was one of the prominent female believers during Jesus’ time on earth. From the time of her deliverance from seven devils, we can see in Luke 8:1-2 how she ministered unto the Lord with her substance alongside other women. To appreciate her courage, it is important to note her presence at the cross as she watched Jesus mutter his last words “it is finished” on the cross of Calvary to rising up early on the first day of the week to sprint to the tomb only to find it empty.
What a blow to her faith, she couldn’t hold it in anymore so she started weeping because she thought that Jesus’ body has been taken away. At this point, she didn’t remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 17:22-23 when he predicted his resurrection on the third day after being killed.
She couldn’t even recognize him when he asked her ‘’Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” Until he called her name ‘’Mary’’ and she replied ‘’Rabboni, which means Master”.
Oh! What a devotion she had that she raced to tell the disciples about her encounter with the Lord.
When the world is against you, would you stand for Jesus? Would you deny him thrice before the cock crows because of fear of death? Would your feet waver in the sands of time? Or will you anchor hold fast to the rock of ages?
Simon Peter, also called Cephas was really confident in his ability to follow Christ till he was crucified.
John 13:36-38 details the conversation between Peter and Jesus. We can see how Peter claimed that he will lay down his life for Christ’s sake. He tried to show his bravery by cutting off the right ear of the high priest servant when Jesus was arrested by the Pharisees.
Could this spineless act of following Jesus afar off and denying him thrice in the high priest’s house before the cock crow as the Lord predicted, be a result of sleeping at Gethsemane instead of watching and praying? What if Peter had prayed for strength to face the trying times with bravery? What if he had acknowledged that indeed his spirit is willing but his flesh was weak? Would his story during Jesus’ last days be different?
What a painful time for Peter when he locked eyes with the Lord after denying Christ the third time to see the words reflected in His eyes.
I would love to end this significant history of crucifixion by taking a look at one of the thieves on the cross who acknowledged the innocence of Christ and asked to be remembered when Christ comes into his kingdom (heaven). He did not allow the antagonistic reply of the thief on the left side of Jesus to dissuade him from accepting Christ.
But can we really end it without remembering Simon of Cyrene who was compelled to carry the cross behind Christ and showed us an aspect of bearing our cross? This situation is similar to the popular hymn “Wherever He leads I’ll go”.
Are you ready to bear it all for Christ, willing to bear the cross to wear the crown?
Let us cast our minds to another hymn “The Old Rugged Cross’’ and ask if we are ready to cling despite trials and challenges. Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32
Would you risk your life, position, and status to honor Christ? Joseph of Arimathea didn’t think about his wealth and status when he went to meet Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. He honored the body of Jesus by wrapping it in fine linen and laying it in a tomb wherein no man has ever laid.
IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM THESE INDIVIDUALS.
• From Mary of Bethany, we learn the importance of making listening to the Word of God a priority to strengthen our faith, passion, and understanding of Christ.
• From Mary Magdalene, we see a woman fearless, committed to spreading the gospel of Christ and being one of the first to announce that ‘’Christ is Risen!’’
• From Peter, we see the dangers of trusting in our strength instead of placing our trust in God and asking for his help but he was quick to realize his mistake and ask for forgiveness. The bible tells us in Matthew 26:75 “He went out and wept bitterly’’.
This may seem different from a normal against all odds story but these individuals faced challenges and threats to their faith In Christ as they watched with tears stricken faces as their Lord was betrayed with a kiss, tossed from the high priest to Pilate to Herod then back to Pilate, saw as they rent his clothes, spat on him and smote him.
They heard him cry out in agony ‘’Eloi ,Eloi, lama sabachtani? My God My God why hast thou forsaken me?”
What a painful scene to witness Christ feeling alone high up on the cross and not being able to do anything about it. Watching him crying out loud ‘’it is finished’’ and giving up the ghost was a heartbreaking moment.
Are you facing challenges or tribulations and your faith is wavering day by day? Don’t fret, just remember the cross where Jesus bore the burdens for you. Believe in his power and trust that there is nothing impossible for Him to do.
‘’And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives’’ Matthew 26:30
Praise Him! Praise Him, cause Christ came down and took the form of man to save us from our sins. And remember, by His stripes, we are made whole. Celebrate our risen Lord with hymns that acknowledge the wonderful works on the cross.
1. The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard
2. Jesus Paid it All by Elvina Hall
3. Christ the Lord is risen today by Charles Wesley
4. Crown Him with many Crowns by Matthew Bridges
5. When I Survey The Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts
There is power in the blood of Jesus, don’t hesitate to believe that the blood still cleanses, saves, and set free.
Remember CHRIST IS RISEN, HALLELUJAH!