Good morning my friends. The most significant moment in the history of man is upon us. Today we celebrate the faithfulness of Jesus who purposefully took our punishment upon himself. Each year I point out that the cross was the only manner by which he could have died to do this right. He had to take on our sins but how could such a perfect man become cursed of the Father? If the Father had cursed him unjustly he would have gone against his own character and he could not do that. It was only by means of the tree that Jesus could become cursed due to something God had put into place along time ago:
If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Luke 21:22-23)
One law, created so very long ago, enabled the perfect man, the innocent man, the Son of God, to take our curse upon himself. But do you see how perfectly executed the Father's plan was worked. The method of choice for execution by the Jews was stoning. They had already tried this with Jesus once before and he simply walked away. It was only the Romans who had used such a cruel method of executing their enemies, by hanging their victims on a tree. When Pilate found Jesus innocent the people provoked him to take action; an unjustifiable action:
For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him."
But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (Luke 23:22-25)
The Romans prided themselves in their sense of justice. It was not their way to put an innocent man to death, even in the face of a potential riot. Do not think for a moment that anyone killed Jesus on this day because it was written in history since the beginning of time. Each person who played a part was not a puppet and owned their own actions but regardless of what anyone did or would have done it would have still resulted in the same thing: Jesus dying on the cross.
Of all the things said and done as Jesus was nailed on the cross as the sacrificial lamb for our sins, the one that best captures the heart of Jesus is this:
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 21:33-34)
After all the mocking from almost every group he faced that day, after all the beatings and torture he endured, after being rejected by his people so clearly and adamantly, after being nailed to the cross and put on display, Jesus still sought their forgiveness. Forgiveness, made possible because of the blood that was shed on that tree today. Forgiveness because God made himself a curse to himself on this day. Forgiveness that is freely ours as we lay down our lives with Jesus; he in us and us in him.
As a country and a people we honour our fallen soldiers; men and women who sacrificed themselves for the ideals of societies that rise and fall with time. Here is the most significant sacrifice in the history of mankind. What will you do to remember today? Attend church? Sing songs of worship? Both are good; but this year why not do something that would really honour Jesus today and everyday. Examine your heart and if you find any unforgiveness there make the decision to forgive. Give to others what the Father has given to you.