How long did it take for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus? Fifteen hours? Maybe twenty? When you are in eternity it doesn’t seem all that long. For as the words of that great old hymn suggest:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.”
But when you’re 33 years old and know full well what is ahead of you, 15 to 20 hours can seem like an eternity! As one reads the Gospel of Luke he/she is impressed with how many times Jesus told his disciples what was going to happen. Take for example Luke 9:22 where He says, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day rise.” Or Luke 9:44 when close to desperation for someone to understand, He implores them, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” Perhaps the extent of His knowledge about what was going to happen is revealed in His statement in Luke 18:31-33, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
While Jesus was fully aware of what was going to happen to Him and even though He had told His disciples several times, they didn’t have a clue. Right after Jesus made the above statement to them Luke says, “But they understood none of these things” (Luke 18:34). As a matter of fact, John tells us “they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9) even after he and Peter went to visit the empty tomb.
So there was Jesus with his clueless set of disciples on the Mount of Olives. He asked them to pray, but they went to sleep. He moved away from them about fifty yards and prayed by himself. Do you think He wasn’t feeling the pressure? The Scriptures describe how the sweat was running off His forehead like great drops of blood. He fell down on His face and began to plead with God, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He repeated this plea not once, not twice, but three times. The Son of God didn’t relish the thought of what was ahead for Him any more than you or I would.
But then the rattle of the weapons of soldiers approaching broke the stillness of the night in the garden. There was the kiss and the question, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48). There was the skirmish and the ear of one of the intruders went flying. Jesus’ quick response to His follower was, “Put your sword back in its place” (Matthew 26:52). He reminded them that He could call 80,000 angels if He so chose, but He also reminded them that fulfilling the Scriptures is more important than anything else. His disciples took off like scared rabbits and Jesus was led off to begin the ordeal.
There was a flurry of activity involving the chief priests and officers of the temple and the elders. There were lies and false accusations, followed by the politician who kept proclaiming Jesus’ innocence while taking the all-too-often-taken “Path of Least Resistance.” He allowed the voices of the mob to prevail over justice and pronounced a death-sentence upon an innocent man. The crucifixion followed and a few hours later Jesus spoke the words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) and it was.
Those 15 to 20 hours finished what had been planned since the foundation of the world. It changed your future and mine because, as Isaiah had prophesied, “with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The writer of the Hebrew letter summarized these hours by saying that we should be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
You see He despised the shame that he had to go through but He loved you and me enough to do it anyway. What a difference the 33-year-old Son of God made for each of us during that 15 to 20 hour period. Let us rejoice in the fact of His sacrifice each time we participate in the Lord’s Supper.
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