Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5 – 8
I can still remember how difficult it was to watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ, and it has been years. I remember the agony, horror, and grief I felt as I watched the story of Jesus’s last few hours on earth unfold on screen. To read it in the Gospels is heartwrenching enough, but to watch it played out in living color right before my eyes was excruciating and overwhelming. I remember coming away from it in awe of a Savior who would love us so much that He would go through the agonizing pain and suffering of the cross.
Many scenes in the film stand out in my mind, and one of those was when Christ was brought before Pilate, the governor of Judea, the chief priests, the elders, the teachers of the law, and the entire Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish body), and He refused to speak or defend Himself.
The Gospel of Matthew records it this way: ”When accusations were made against Him, He gave no answer. Pilate repeatedly asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus again made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.” Matt. 27: 12 -13
As I have read these words through the years, I have always wanted to cry out to Jesus and say, “Why didn’t you speak?”, but watching it made that feeling even more intense and poignant. “Why, Jesus, why don’t you just tell them who you are? Why don’t you let them see that you are God’s Son? Why don’t you show them your power and your glory? Then you won’t have to suffer on the cross.”
Or, even more, I wanted to cry out to God, “Oh dear God, don’t let them do this to your Son. Only you can stop this. Show them you are God; show them your power.”
But of course, that could not happen. It was ordained by God before the beginning of creation. It was God’s divine plan to save mankind. We could not have done it on our own. We all would have been lost and there would have been no salvation for the world, or redemption – no gift of eternal life. God loves us and desires that we have a life filled with His loving presence, now and forever more. It had to be.
Jesus’s refusal to speak and defend Himself was even foretold by the prophet Isaiah around 750 years before Jesus was born. Of the 300 prophecies In the OT made about Him, which were fulfilled in the New, this was one of them: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.” Isaiah 53: 7 – 8
Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for redeeming mankind from that day forward. His death was an atonement for our sins. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb for all of us and because of Him we are changed. We have been forgiven!
We should have no fear that we aren’t good enough or deserving of His grace. He proved on the cross that each one of us is much loved and cherished, and He was willing to suffer and give His own life so ours might be saved. His body became broken for each one of us so we could be made whole. He did this to glorify His Father through His incarnation, earthly life and ministry, and even more so, through his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He became a servant and a sacrifice for all men’s sins, and He lived His life humbly and lovingly.
Because of Him, we can look to the future with great confidence and assurance that we are His. And the only thing that God asks in return is that we believe in and accept His Son as our Savior. Salvation is given by grace, not because of any great works we could ever do or words we could ever say.
It was, and is, a gift of grace, greater than any love that could ever be given. May we go before Him humbly and gratefully, for Jesus did it for us. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son to atone for our sins. May we never forget or take for granted what He did for us on the cross. Thank you for the grace to live our lives in freedom from the bondage of sin and despair, and for the gift of eternal life. Amen