I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way – either because you are dried up or have been away from it, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.
What follows is one of the pieces I wrote for the plan on Matthew. You can find the full plan HERE.
Innocent, betrayed, questioned, traded, mocked, beaten, tortured, ridiculed, brutalized, executed, abandoned, sacrificed, dead—so went the end of Jesus’ earthly life. To pacify jealous leaders, the sinless God-man was put to death in the fashion of traitors and rebels. He was displayed like a bloody yard sale sign for all passersby to see and to scorn.
That is one side to this story, the unjust and bloody murder of the Messiah.
There is another side woven throughout the same events, the side of signs, wonders, and hope. In the face of questioning and mockery, Jesus remained silent, like a sheep being peacefully led to slaughter. The purple robe, crown of thorns, and placard declaring Him to be “King of the Jews”—all of these details were meant to demean Him but were infinitely more accurate than His accusers knew.
With His final words, Jesus referred to Psalm 22, which speaks of being forsaken by God, but also of His rescue and good pleasure in doing so. Just as He gave up His spirit as a willing sacrifice, darkness fell at midday, displaying the Father’s sorrow. In that moment, the rending of the temple curtain made the holiest place accessible to all. Somehow, in the midst of the blood and gore and screams and agony, a Roman centurion saw the signs and recognized the truth: “Surely this man was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). And so He was.
And so He is.
Just as the Son of God gave up His spirit, He then took it back again, rising from the dead, resurrected. With an earthquake and angelic entourage, Jesus exited the grave. He greeted friends, spoke tenderly to the doubting, made public appearances to hundreds, and gave life to the tales His murderers sought to spread. He left witnesses in His wake and left them with a charge: go and make disciples. And then He left them with a promise, saying, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
When Jesus departed earth, He had fulfilled His mission: to live a perfect life as one both completely divine and completely human; to die the death He alone did not deserve in order to give salvation to all those who did; and to bring about the death of death with His own resurrection. He then established His church by commissioning His followers to be disciple-makers, promising to impart the Holy Spirit to them as teacher, guide, empowerer, and life-giver.
Indeed, this man was, and is, the Son of God. And one day, He will come again.