This is the day, the culmination of God’s plan to restore to us and to rectify the loss due to the sin of Adam. Paradise was lost to all of us on that day Adam and Eve chose to listen to their own selfish desires rather than listen to God. However, God’s plan never changed; he created us to be in an intimate relationship with him and with the death of Jesus for the sins of all the separation between ourselves and God was destroyed.
We understand that and have two thousand years of doctrine to help us grasp that concept. Did you ever wonder what that sounded like to those who heard it from the mouth of the Son of God? If you read the scriptures there were many who had difficulties grasping the concept of dying for the sins of all and rising from the dead. We know there were thousands who believed him to be the Son of God. Yet, the majority of the religious elite refused to believe and considered him blasphemous and plotted to have him killed.
As I watch the Passion of Christ (a Holy Week must for me) I was wondering about the crowds that shouted “crucify him” and the individuals who watched as he carried that cross to Calvary. What were they thinking and how many were undecided about him as the Son of God? What did Simon of Cyrene think about Jesus as he was forced to carry the cross so Jesus would not die on the way to his crucifixion? The scriptures do not tell us any more about Simon except that he was in town that day and was obviously in the crowd as Jesus made his way to Calvary.
In many ways the world is not so different today as it was then. There are those who are fighting hard to eradicate the name of Jesus from the public arena. In March the Louisiana State Chaplain opened a town hall meeting in Metairie, La by reciting a prayer and was shouted down by those in the audience. The head coach of the University of Mississippi football team is under fire by the Freedom from Religion Foundation for quoting bible verses in his tweets. They claim as a representative of the University he should not be promoting religion because of the separation of church and state laws. I never thought I would ever root for a victory by the head coach of the Ole MIss football team.
Today In the United States, there are 1354 pending law suits, complaints or other types of challenges about faith in the public arena. If you think belief in Jesus is not being challenged today then you are not different from those in the crowd that day that just watched as Jesus was being lead to his death. God tells us in the Book of Revelation how he “wishes we were hot or cold but because we are lukewarm he will spew us out of his mouth.” It is not acceptable for us to be on the sidelines we either are for Christ or we are against him. Too many on this day are on the sidelines both in the world today and in the scriptures about his passion and death.
Yes an effort is and has been underway for some time to remove all traces of expressions of belief from being exercised by those who do believe. We are so passive in our response to these attacks it reminds me of those in the crowd just watching as something extraordinary was happening that day. The fulfillment of all Old Testament prophesies about the messiah and the culmination of the plan of God to restore us to the kingdom of God was happening in front of them. Yet even those who believed in him failed to understand and were weeping and trying to cope with what seemed to be the end of all their hopes.
As I read the scriptures about this day it seems to me that the majority of the individuals involved were not believers in Jesus nor did they understand what was going on that day. I know as I go to church today I know I will not see a church full of thankful worshipers because of God’s great gift of salvation. This is submission day for Jesus as he submits to the plan of salvation for us and our day of submission to allow salvation to change our lives and hearts.
It is more than a day to give thanks and venerate the cross. It is a day of grateful praise and thanksgiving for God’s great love for us and Jesus’ obedience so we could embrace our own cross and die to self and live for Christ. On the last Sunday of Lent we heard Thomas say to the other disciples “let us go and die with him.” Well you know they ran away and hid instead of being identified with him. Today is our chance to go die with him and dare to be willing to risk everything by declaring with our entire being that we believe Jesus is Lord and Savior. We will not compromise our belief in him no matter what the cost.
Calvary was the beginning of our life filled with the presence of God and his healing gift of forgiveness.