Remembering the Lamb’s Sacrifice

“He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.” Isaiah 53:3a

Pilate had just handed Him over to the soldiers to be crucified. The Lamb, in the hands of the Romans, was taken into the Governor’s residence and they dressed Him in a purple robe. Their laughter at this silent and ‘defeated’ King was rolling.

One had the idea to give the King a crown… but not just any kind of crown. They twisted together a crown of thorns and forcefully shoved it onto Him. A ring of fiery pain throbbed on His head. They put a staff in His hand and mocked this character they had dressed up in front of them. Their laughter reverberated around Him, and their mocking increased as each one attempted to one-up the other.

One began to salute Him and jeered, “All hail, King of the Jews!” His fellow soldiers laughed and mimicked him, and they anticipated a word or a movement from the King. But He didn’t respond, and His eyes didn’t shift in what they were communicating.

Infuriated, a soldier grabbed the staff they had put in His hand and began to hit His head with it over and over again. He fell to the ground, the full impact of concussion being felt in His already stressed, tired, and pained body. Feeling still the need to assert their power and demean the person of the King, they spit on Him as the room spun around Him. His own blood and their saliva dripped down His swollen face.

A couple of others dropped to their knees and jokingly paid Him homage, “Hail to you, King of the Jews!” Their laughter, devoid of the compassion and love that filled His heart, was filling the space.

Pilate ordered them to bring Him out and placed Him before the crowd once more. The bloody and battered Lamb stood before the crowd – it was full of tear-filled disciples, indignant leaders of the Jews, and a worked-up crowd.

Regardless of His innocence, the verdict was sealed, and Pilate washed his hands… false security for washing away his complicity in the matter. Crucifixion was imminent.

“Take him to Golgotha,” a Roman soldier ordered, “Take the purple robe off of him and put him back in his clothes.”

As they walked Jesus out of the Governor’s residence and toward Golgotha, they forced a man to help carry the cross. Beating up Jesus had inconvenienced them by weakening the King’s ability to carry the cross by Himself, and none of them wanted to carry it. So, they got one of the Jews who had made his way to Jerusalem for the Passover to carry it for them.

“You! Carry this cross for the King of the Jews!” they ordered.

Simon of Cyrene looked at the blood-covered King and helped carry the weight of the cross for Him. When they got to Golgotha, He refused the wine and myrrh mixture typically given to help reduce the pain. The King would feel the full impact of the sacrifice.

They roughly placed Him on the wooden beams and drove the thick stakes through His hands and feet. With each pound of the hammer, with each cry of Jesus, His cries were mirrored in the wails of the women and the faithful followers who were weeping for their King.

The charge against Him was written and nailed to the cross above His head: King of the Jews. (It was illegal for there to be any other King but Caesar)

The criminals on either side of Him, the soldiers on the ground below, and the chief priests were all mocking: “He could save others, but He can’t save Himself. Come down so we can see and believe!”

As the hours passed, the full weight of the sin of mankind rested on our sacrificial Lamb. At noon, the sky went dark and remained darkened until three in the afternoon. Jesus cried out in anguish, “My God… My God… why have you abandoned me?”

They thought He was crying out for Elijah. “I’m thirsty,” Jesus said to them, and so they offered Him some wine mixed with vinegar. “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down,” they said to one another.

“It is finished,” He cried out as He raised His eyes to the heavens. He bowed His head, breathed in and out. And He gave up His spirit.

At that very moment, the temple curtain tore in two – from the top to the very bottom. The earth began to shake, and the rocky terrain began to split – creation was grieving the death of the Son.

The disciples, the faithful, and the followers watched as the soldiers ensured He was dead by piercing His side. When He had been taken down by the Romans, Joseph of Arimathea along with Nicodemus took charge of His body to bury their King.

Nicodemus had carried 75 pounds of oils and aloes to prepare the Lamb’s body for burial. Together, they cleaned and wrapped and prepared His body according to Jewish custom and laid Him in the tomb with dignity. Tears filled their eyes as they rolled the stone in front of the tomb.

Their King was dead, but hope was not.

This Sabbath would be filled with waiting and wondering. May we also allow ourselves to sit with the feelings of waiting and wondering as we remember the sacrifice of the Lamb.

“Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” John 19:40-41

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Mark 15:46

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