He was from a small town, born to a young mother, working in a woodshop, apprenticed to His father. For thirty years, He lived in relative obscurity. Then, everything changed. He gathered followers, alienated the religious authorities, worked miracles. By the time He was about 33 years old, He was killed through the most heinous executions known to man.
He was Jesus the Saviour, Christ the Messiah, God a very God — and He died for us.
Pilate, the Roman authority officiating Jesus’ execution, told the growing crowds that “No! This man has done no wrong! Don’t let Him be crucified.” But the people were insistent, they wanted Him dead. The Jewish authorities sneered in the background, knowing that for three years, they’ve wanted this man done away with. He was upturning their traditions, claiming fulfillment of their Scriptures, telling them they were arrogant and unworthy of the role of spiritual leaders. They now had gotten their way. Pilate gave in and ordered Jesus executed.
The suffering of death by crucifixion demanded a new word in the ancient vocabulary — excruciating. The pain Jesus suffered was horrendous, but not more than the pain He suffered by allowing His Father, the third person of the Trinity who sent Him down to earth (John 5:23), to abandon Him to the fate of mankind’s sin. All the pride, all the murder, all the selfishness, all the idolatry — all this, He placed on Himself and paid the price of justice their actions demanded. The price was separation, separation from the love, care, and presence of God the Father. And so He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). A hundred billion people, through the ages — all their sin, He took upon Himself. And as the jeering crowds mocked Him, not knowing it was for this, their great evil He too was dying for, He said to them, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
He died that day, killed by the men whose sins He carried from God’s eyes. Why did He do it? Because He was keeping to a promise, a promise of hope and salvation made long ago, to His special people Israel and also to the world. A promise that one day would come a Deliverer who will set at liberty those who were oppressed, to proclaim the year of Jubilee upon the land captured in its own sin. He died to set the captive free, to make righteous the sinner, to give joy to the ones who deserved only darkness for their deeds. Christ died to save souls who hated Him. He died for the people who didn’t want Him interfering with their lives. He died for people who loved themselves more than God. He died for people who didn’t love Him. He died for us.