At least three times Jesus tried to warn the disciples of his approaching arrest and death. Though he spoke plainly about these events, the disciples did not comprehend what he meant by his words. The first time Jesus spoke about it, Peter took him aside and rebuked him for saying such things! The next two times the disciples responded by jockeying for position and making requests for seats of authority in the new world order! Jesus must have sighed…
When Jesus died, the disciples were devastated. They were too loyal to just go back to their former lives, but they were too disappointed to know what to do next, so they hid behind locked doors. And then the stories started flying around that Jesus was alive – resurrected! Hope was reborn in most of them and it turned out to be a well placed hope. When Jesus conquered the grave there was a sense in which his death did not matter anymore, all that mattered was that he was alive! But then, questions nagged. Why did Jesus die? What about God’s protection of his chosen one(s)? How was Jesus’ death and resurrection different from, say Lazarus’ experience? Theological wheels started turning.
It may have been tempting to just write off Jesus’ death as a horrible accident, or an unfortunate case of injustice. Blame could be assigned to the religious leaders and the Roman governor and the issue would be solved. But the very words of Jesus would not allow that, for on the road to Emmaus he told two disciples, “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:26). What ever the death of Jesus was, for God it was neither an accident nor a surprise!
Peter claimed that God was fully aware of what would happen to Jesus: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24) Jesus tasted death so that he could conquer our greatest enemy. I love the claim of Peter – it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him!
Because of what Jesus did for us all on the cross, it is impossible for death to keep its hold on us! Just as Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Father, we too will experience the mighty power of God that conquers death!
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death!” (Hebrews 2:14-15) The death and resurrection of Jesus was the event that unleashed the mighty power of God the creator to reverse the curse and free all his creation! What a reason to celebrate!
- Kenny Payne