This week reminds us Christ died for our sins, then He arose

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

This is the most important week for Christian faith. Many events take place in what is referred to as the week of passion. I want to narrow our focus to the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Crucifixion was a form of capital punishment. This punishment was invented by the Carthaginians, hundred of years before the Romans started using it. It was intended to be incredibly brutal, and the Romans had learned how to increase the suffering to prolong the death as long as possible.

Their purpose was to use crucifixion as a powerful warning and a deterrent to committing crimes that deserved such punishment. Anyone who was condemned to death on a cross would suffer the greatest degree of agony before finally dying in misery and disgrace in a form of punishment that was truly cruel and brutal.

Death on the cross was so brutal it was not allowed as a form of execution for a Roman citizen. This form of capital punishment execution was used throughout the Roman Empire.

As we read the scriptures, that is what was the practice when Jesus was taken before Pilate and Herod. “There they crucified Him with two other men, one on each side, and Jesus between them.”

These were two thieves, and the three had a conversation while waiting to die. It was the practice of this public execution to put a sign above the head of the condemned stating the reason for the execution.

Above the head of Jesus they put the charge against Him, which read “This is Jesus the king of the Jews.” Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, saying, ”You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

In the same way the chief priest also, along with the scribes and elders, was mocking Him saying, “He saved others: He cannot save Himself. If He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trust in God; let God rescue Him now, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

The thieves were also insulting Him with the same words (Matt. 27:37-44).

The crucifixion site was at a major entry point to Jerusalem, and the passersby included people coming to the city for normal activities and those who came to watch another execution.

The citizens would pass by and express their disgusts to those being crucified. The religious leaders included the chief priest, scribes and elders. These were the ones who were instrumental in arranging for the crucifixion of Jesus. They were the ones who captured Him in the garden of Gethsemane and lead the crowd to shout crucify him.

The thieves joined the mockers, but as the day progressed, one of the thieves began to realize that Jesus was not like all the others who had been placed on a cross and asked for forgiveness and acceptance.

All three died that day. One died in his sins, the other died forgiven of his sins, and Jesus died for sins of others. Consider this question – which one of the two thieves represents you? Jesus died for your sins that day. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Rom. 3:23). Jesus told His disciples several times that on the third day He would rise. The scriptures continue that after He was buried, a watch was placed at the tomb.

At dawn, an earthquake occurred, and the stone covering the entrance rolled away. Several women came to the tomb with the plan to somehow get into the tomb to more properly prepare the body of Jesus for burial.

When they discovered the tomb open and empty, all of them except Mary Magdalene ran back to where the disciples and others had been hiding. While they were gone, Mary had an encounter with Jesus.

She was the first to see Jesus and told that He has risen from the dead. Some still find it hard to accept this truth. Some are still like the mocking crowd. Some are still like the thief who died in his sins. But for me, I believe. I realized in 1971 that I had sinned and had come short of the glory of God. I began to understand that I needed forgiveness for my sins and that God had provided a plan for my redemption. What will this Easter mean to you? Will it just be bunnies and eggs, or will it be a day of celebration of the resurrection.