Trouble is, many folks have that “Carpenter from Nazareth” down as a namby-pamby milquetoast victim of forces that eventually destroyed Him. Wrong. He was (and still is) a warrior of the highest order, rising from deceptively humble beginnings to attain the pinnacle of power and majesty in the Universe.
And while He sits on the throne of the cosmos today, there was terrible suffering along the way for Him.
The Bible explains that after Jesus died 2,000 years ago, He had to pass through a terrifying and hostile dark valley that, just for a moment, seemed to swallow Him up permanently. With eternal stakes on the line, he went to war, single-handedly, with the assembled forces of evil under the headship of the “Darth Vader” of hellfire and damnation.
Three days later, He emerged scarred but victorious. And, the Bible says He will return to Earth, in due course, accompanied by a heavenly army to bring his followers home, and take His rightful place as earth’s Ruler, as He is in Heaven.
Alexander the Great once said, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”
That Lion is Jesus and we believers are the sheep of His flock, and our victory was all made possible because Jesus went before us, faced down Hell’s fury, and won the victory FOR us, as our willing Substitute and submissive Sacrifice.
I read somewhere that the essence of soldiering is when one nation offers a representative sample of its finest men and women as a sacrifice to fight against another nation’s finest soldiers. Soldiers fight as substitutes for a nation’s citizens who are unable or unwilling to go to war for themselves.
When they fall in battle, such warriors are considered heroes because they have willingly sacrificed their own interests to benefit others.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Scripture tells us, “He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The Old Testament Hebrew prophet, Isaiah, predicted that Israel’s Messiah would come to earth to save God’s people from oppression and servitude 700 years before Jesus was born. However, the Jews failed to comprehend the direct connection between their continuous national troubles, over hundreds of years, and their own sins against their God.
Their needs were spiritual. It wasn’t about the Romans, or before that, the Babylonians or the Medo Persians — they were just “hammers” in God’s hands to get the people’s attention.
God’s people needed a representative before the Throne of Heavenly Justice who could intercede and advocate in their place. A score needed to be settled, a worthy sacrifice offered, and only a perfect substitute could pull it off.
Here is how He did it according to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53:4-6:
“However, it was OUR sicknesses that He Himself bore,
And OUR pains that He carried;
Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted,
Struck down by God, and humiliated.
But He was pierced for OUR offenses,
He was crushed for OUR wrongdoings;
The punishment for OUR well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds WE are healed.
All of us, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of US ALL
To fall on Him.”
The Memorial Day monuments to our hero/savior are everywhere you see a cross, not as decorative jewelry, but as a symbol of humiliation, shame, unimaginable suffering, and excruciating death and resurrection. In Psalm 22:14-18 it is written:
“I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a piece of pottery,
And my tongue clings to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And they cast lots for my clothing.”
Today, Jesus’ spiritual D-Day is over, but we are a forgetful bunch. It’s too easy to blithely move on ungratefully without a second thought to what it cost Jesus to secure our spiritual futures by shedding His precious life blood in our place.
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
— John 1:29
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished … He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
— John 19:28
For those of us who call Jesus, Lord, we raise a collective “THANK YOU, JESUS” as we remember the greatest warrior who ever lived, died and rose again so that we may have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sin and have a home in heaven forever.
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.