The Standard April 1, 2021
Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, from where he would be born to how he would die. Soon after the earthly life of this Man of Sorrows began, his parents had to flee from Bethlehem to protect him from the infanticide commanded by Herod. During his public ministry he was accused of being demon-possessed, insane and a blasphemer. His own disciples were slow to understand his mission and one betrayed him. Even his close friend Peter denied him three times. Flogged, mocked, spat upon and wearing a crown of thorns, Jesus was crucified like a criminal.
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.’” (John 19:30-37)
Isaiah had prophesied long before, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned –every one—to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:3-7)
Charles Spurgeon’s words from an 1873 sermon encourage us to remember Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in the light of Easter. “For great as were the woes of our Redeemer, they are all over now, and are to be looked back upon with sacred triumph. However severe the struggle, the victory has been won; the labouring vessel was severely tossed by the waves, but she has now entered into the desired haven. Our Saviour is no longer in Gethsemane agonizing, or upon the cross expiring; the crown of thorns has been replaced by many crowns of sovereignty; the nails and the spear have given way to the sceptre. Nor is this all, for though the suffering is ended, the blessed results never end. We may remember the travail, for the Man Child is born into the world. The sowing in tears is followed by a reaping in joy. The bruising of the heel of the woman’s seed is well recompensed by the breaking of the serpent’s head. It is pleasant to hear of battles fought when a decisive victory has ended war and established peace. So that the double reflection that all the work of suffering is finished by the Redeemer, and that, henceforth, he beholds the success of all his labours, we shall rejoice even while we enter into fellowship with his sufferings.”