For further study and application, read Isaiah 53.
I can never read this passage, or any account of Jesus’s execution, without crying and feeling utterly sick to my stomach. Although I know that it had to happen in order for us wretched, sinful humans to have any hope of atonement before God, I cannot abide the thought of my Lord upon that cross, bearing the humiliation and shame that rightfully belong to us, all of us. It makes me physically ill to contemplate.
Imagine for a moment that you are the most powerful, richest, wisest human on earth, the king of the world, that you rule benevolently, treating your people absolutely justly, providing for them completely, so that they have no cause for complaint. You are capable of wiping them out entirely with a snap of your fingers, but you have instead loved them perfectly, mercifully, and patiently.
Now imagine those people turn on you. They storm into your peaceful garden, lay their hands upon you, drag you away to stand trial in front of a lowly, second-rate magistrate, accuse you of crimes of which you are innocent, against laws that you wrote, no less, beating you, mocking you, and ultimately killing you in the most grotesque, tortuous way possible – all because you threatened their status and authority.
Would you do as Jesus did and passively allow all this to befall you?
Isaiah prophesied, “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 53:9, ESV)
He didn’t even deny the charges, (Matthew 27:11-14) and He did it all for us. He allowed humans, His own created beings, to whom His very breath gives life (Job 33:4), to kill Him. It’s inconceivable to me, and words are entirely inadequate to express my gratitude and awe.
The only way for me to ever express to Him my love and appreciation is to worship and follow Him with absolute adoration and obedience for the rest of my life, completely aware of my own culpability in what befell Him and my unworthiness of His forgiveness. What an awesome God we serve!
As you read the account of Jesus’s crucifixion, I entreat you to remember His complete innocence, acknowledged by Pilate himself (Matthew 27:23, 24), His humility, and that this form of punishment was reserved for the lowest of criminals. He allowed this to happen to Him to atone for the sins of man, the whole world’s, from beginning to end, yours and mine. (1 John 2:1, 2)
We could never earn the forgiveness of God. We can never be good enough to meet His righteous, holy standard. It is not possible for us to enter His presence on our own merit. We had to have a savior. Jesus willingly stood in our place, assumed responsibility for our sins, and took our punishment. The debt has been paid.
If you have been hesitating to entrust your soul to Jesus Christ, I ask you to think and pray very hard on the evidence before you and to consider whether you want to continue trusting in your own abilities within this dark world, or rather to put yourself into the hands of such a God as this.
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life..." Deuteronomy 30:19, ESV.