"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2
As Christ followers, this is a special week, the week that leads up to Easter. We celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus. However, before the resurrection took place, Jesus went through intense physical, relational, and spiritual pain. In the garden of Gethsemane, our Messiah was in agony as He thought about the wrath and the fury of God that He was about to take because of the sins of mankind. Jesus knew that He would be separated from the Father as He took the punishment for our sins. In Matthew 26 and 27, we see our Messiah's sacrifice. Jesus' sacrifice included betrayal by one whom He loved, Judas. Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek, and the armed crowd seized Jesus and arrested Him. Jesus' sacrifice included abandonment by His disciples. Matthew 26:55-56 says, "In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, 'Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." Later in Matthew, we find that Peter denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would do. Jesus' sacrifice included being falsely accused by the chief priests and the Sanhedrin. Throughout His ministry, Jesus was falsely accused of being a blasphemer and of being possessed by evil spirits. After questioning Jesus, the accusers say in Matthew 26:66-68, "'What do you think? He is worthy of death,' they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, 'Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?'" Jesus' sacrifice included physical beatings and harassment. Jesus' sacrifice included insults and mockery. The soldiers stripped Jesus of His robe, and they forced a crown of thorns onto His head. They, too, spit on Him and beat Him. Jesus' sacrifice included crucifixion. The soldiers placed Jesus on a cross, driving spikes through His hands and His feet. Again, the people there and the religious leaders hurled insults and mockery at Jesus. In Matthew 27:40-43, they said, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it up in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God! He saved others, but he can't save himself! He's the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusts in God. Let God reduce him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" Even the rebels on the crosses next to Jesus insulted Him. Jesus' sacrifice included death. Matthew 27:50 says, "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave us his spirit." Jesus died. Jesus died for you and for me, for a world full of sinners. Jesus died to satisfy God's wrath and fury upon sin...my sin, your sin, the sins of the world. This is our promised Messiah's sacrifice. Jesus took our deserved punishment and our deserved separation from God because of our sins. Because of what our Messiah has done for us, we can now be reconciled to God. Our sin debt has been paid, once and for all, by our great Savior! If you have never responded to the sacrifice of our Messiah, you can today. If you have never surrendered your life to God through Jesus Christ, you can today. Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, "If you decade with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." If you are a Christ follower, spend time this week thinking about our Messiah's sacrifice...everything He took for us, because of us. If you are not a Christ follower, think about the truth of God's Word. Think about God's love for you, as Paul says in Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us." Think about the sacrifice Jesus made for you. Then, act upon His sacrifice. Repent of your sin, turning to Jesus and believing in Him as your own, personal Savior. Believe in your heart and call upon Him with your mouth. You can...you will be saved! Believe it! Claim it! Live it!