I’ve written this message before, but I love it so much, that it bears repeating at this time of year…
A few weeks ago I was standing in Jerusalem near what had been the Praetorium, the headquarters of Pontius Pilate, the place from where he condemned Jesus to be crucified.
For 300 years leading up to that moment, the Romans had honored successful war generals in a ceremony called the “Triumphus” by dressing the hero in a purple robe and a crown, and walking him through a grand processional up to the top of Capitoline Hill in Rome. The hero’s face was painted red to resemble the god Jupiter and he was given wine mixed with myrrh, only to refuse it. A bull was then sacrificed as the crowd shouted for their hero to become a son of Jupiter, their god.
Mark wrote in his gospel, “when they (the Romans) were finally tired of mocking Him (Jesus), they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him again” (Mark 15:20). Mark also tells us that the Romans had also given Jesus a crown of thorns and led him to be sacrificed, and gave Him wine mixed with myrrh, that He refused.
In other words, when the Romans “MOCKED” Jesus, they were running Him through the very same ceremony as the ones they had done for their own heroes for over 300 years.
But, what was different about THIS man? Bloody, beaten, and bruised, Jesus hardly looked like a hero. Hanging on the cross was nothing like a Roman hero receiving cheers on a hilltop in Rome. So, what was different about THIS MAN? This man that was declared King of the Jews?
What was it about Jesus that made the Roman soldier standing at the base of the cross completely dismiss 300 years of Roman tradition, 300 years of Roman celebration, 300 years of Roman domination to look up to this lone man on the cross and utter the words that would DEFY THE ROMAN EMPIRE… “This man was TRULY the Son of GOD!” (Mark 15:39, NLT).
In three days, that soldier would understand. In three days what was different about this man called Jesus would completely make sense. Because what Jesus knew at that moment was what the Roman soldier could only imagine as something special. If Jesus could have spoken to him at that moment, He may have said something like this, “I AM the Son of God and I forgive you of your sins. But just wait three more days, because I AM about to change the world forever!”
The reality of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is UNDENIABLE!
Three more days… and the world would change forever. I was changed. You were changed. Because Jesus rose from the grave, we can all be changed forever!
This Easter Sunday, Dale will talk about what Jesus did, that no one else can do, because even today… JESUS LIVES! Happy Easter!
God bless you all, and we hope to see you Sunday!