By Joan Clayton
The week before Easter reminds me of the palms and branches spread by the people welcoming the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. “’Tell the people of Jerusalem, Your king is coming to you. He is gentle and riding on a donkey, on the colt of a donkey” (Matthew 21:5 NCV).
Incidentally, you will find the same references in Isaiah 61:11 and Zechariah 9:9. These two references were written centuries before Jesus was born. I find it humbling that Jesus rode on a donkey at that time, but in Revelation 19:11 Jesus will be riding on a white horse whose rider is called “Faithful and True.” He is the Conqueror of death and the grave.
All of us can be quickly confronted with a life or death situation. Since time is a gift, making right choices becomes vital. Wrong choices lead to serious consequences. Our finite minds can hardly fathom eternity. Eternity has been compared to taking a drop of water from the ocean minute by minute and dropping it on the sand. Ten thousand years later there would not be a noticeable difference.
Where to spend eternity is a choice. Jesus knew the suffering he would have to endure. He chose the cross anyway. He could have called ten thousand angels to come to his aid, but then, where would we be?
Jesus chose the path to the cross because he is love and love conquers all. The cross is a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness. It’s the message of the resurrection. He arose. Hallelujah, Jesus arose! He overcame death for you and me. He is the bridge to life’s greatest hope, the hope beyond the grave.
It is hard to imagine the cruel torture that Jesus endured. In Israel, olive oil is very precious and is used extensively. To obtain oil from the olive requires intensive pressure. The olive is put in a press and squeezed until the oil is released. In a sense, Jesus endured that same pressure. I think he knew the horrendous pain awaiting him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, his sweat was as great drops of blood. Nevertheless, he endured the crucifixion for mankind.
Imagine Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing before the cross with wrenching pain and agony in her heart for her son. How special was Jesus’ love for his earthly mother. Amidst severe anguish and excruciating pain, Jesus looks down from the cross and talks to John to make sure his mother would be cared for. “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then saith he to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother!’ and from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:26-27).
The pain that Mary felt on Crucifixion Day pierced her heart and soul with more hurt than I can say. Did Mary really know this act had to be … to save mankind from earth to ensure eternity? Did Mary know her son was her savior too? Yes, I think she did. He died for Mary, too. The tomb is empty. Let us now sing, our praises loud to Jesus, our King.
May all of us be resurrected from the slavery of sin. The cost of our redemption cannot be measured. Jesus died for you and me that we would be set free. That is the glorious message of the cross.
Let’s ring the bells. Shout it from the rooftops. Come along and live forever. It’s the glorious news of the ages. The champion has won! The enemy of our souls has been defeated. It is Resurrection Day!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and religion columnist living in Portales.