But First, the Cross

By Jennifer Hartline Published on March 28, 2018

The world has no idea what to do with Holy Week.

The world blazes right past Spy Wednesday, Holy (Maundy) Thursday and Good Friday. The world is focused on bunnies and eggs and flowers.

The world knows not what Jesus’ week was like before His passion and death. They’ll miss the crowd waving palm branches, praising the Son of David as He enters the town riding a donkey. They’ll miss the famous scene where Jesus makes His point by flipping over tables and cracking a whip in the Temple. They’ll miss the tenderness of precious, fragrant oil being poured out upon Him as a pure offering of love. An act He said was to prepare His body for sacrifice and burial.

The world will miss the disciples making preparations for the Passover, and not take note of the peculiar fact that Jesus’ detailed instructions say nothing at all about procuring a lamb for the sacrifice. They’ll miss the way the King of the Universe bends down with a basin of water and a towel and humbly, lovingly washes the feet of the mortal, sinful men who have been His disciples. They’ll miss the way one of those men will so despise that humble love that he’ll betray the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.

The world will not appreciate the anguish in the heart of God for them.

They’ll miss the agony in Gethsemane. They will not contemplate the sorrow so weighty that it fell from Him as drops of blood to the ground. They will not appreciate the anguish in the heart of God for them. They will not grasp the strength of His desire to do what the Father has asked of Him. The world knows nothing of obedience.

When the Son of the Living God Dies on the Cross

The world will miss the way a Man, even in these circumstances, can be moved to see and heal the injury of one of the soldiers who came to arrest Him. He reaches out His hand and a severed ear is restored.

They will completely miss that it is love alone that compels Him to permit every act of savagery against Him, for He surely could have stopped it all.

They will not take note of the fickleness of the crowd — the same crowd chanting His praises a few days earlier is now screaming for His death. Such foolish, weak, and ignorant sheep, they are. Their Shepherd knows this, and He knows this is why they need a Savior.

The world will not pause to gasp when the Son of God echoes the question every suffering heart has ever asked: Why, God? Why have You abandoned me?

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The world will not understand what it means when He asks the Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The world will not tremble in awe and fear when the Son of the Living God dies on the Cross. When the powers of hell cheer, the earth quakes and is rent open, when the Temple curtain is torn from the top down and the foundation cracks, when the skies turn black and the heavens seem to wail and weep.

The world will not stop to notice the most beautiful, pure, tender and faithful mother standing at His bloody feet, her own heart pierced through with unspeakable agony. Is there no compassion for her? Nothing even in her that will move the hardened heart?

The world is content with bunnies and eggs and flowers.

Death Has Been Defeated. But First, the Cross.

Foolish, weak and sinful sheep! You want life without death and love without cost. You want freedom without sacrifice. You settle for momentary happiness rather than lasting peace. You want pleasure but scoff at joy. You want healing without fighting the disease. You want eternity on your own terms, and a God who will serve you.

Stop and look on Him Whom you have pierced. Beloved, do not persist in being Judas.

God has served you. He has humbled Himself and become a slave for your sake. Even more than a slave, the very ransom for your life. The sentence of your crimes He has paid in full. Your righteousness is filthy rags before Him, but He clothes you in dignity and beauty, as one beloved. This is the gift He offers you in His passion and death. This is the hope He secures for you with His glorious resurrection.

Despair has no place here. The only way you will lose now is if you choose to.

Do not persist in being Judas. Feel the sorrow now. Repent now. Receive mercy now. Weep with Christ in the garden for every soul who refuses His mercy. Weep at the foot of the Cross with Mary for every child who scorns His love for them.

Stop and look on Him Whom you have pierced. Beloved, do not persist in being Judas.

Easter is coming. New life will arise. The skies will clear. Death has been defeated. The tomb will be opened and found empty.

But first, the Cross.

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  • Kevin Quillen

    Beautifully written! Thank you Father for mercy and grace. Thank you for Jesus!!!!

  • Patmos

    “The world is content with bunnies and eggs and flowers.”

    The world will likely also miss the pagan elements behind those bunnies and eggs and flowers, and miss not only the cross, but also Pentecost!

    For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    • Jennifer Hartline

      Patmos, there is nothing inherently wrong with bunnies, eggs, and flowers. They are all God’s beautiful creation, and indeed symbols of new life and beauty.

      • Patmos

        There is something wrong with them when trying to associate them with the death and resurrection of Jesus, because yes, there is paganism behind that tradition. It’s the same thing as when the Hebrew people built the golden calf, and God commanded them to have no other Gods before him.

        • Ken Abbott

          People are bowing down to chocolate bunnies and declaring that this is the God that brought them out of Egypt?

  • Lisa

    I love how Jennifer put things. I’m reading it to my kids at breakfast. Thanks for this.

  • Tim Pan

    People appreciate what God did them sort of, but people in this age refuse to look at themselves and the reason God had to slaughter His son on a cross.

  • Ray

    I was listening to a pastor on you tube, who was saying the Jesus spoke in tongues, and I had been wondering about this for quite some time, after reading the first 13 verses of Luke 11, for that is so appropriate for leading someone into receiving the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit, WITH the manifestation of speaking in tongues). Anyway, this pastor was saying that there are two times in the gospels where Jesus says something and the Bible says, “which interpreted is” , or “that is to say”, or something like that, and one is when he is healing, and the interpretation means “be opened”, and the other is from the cross, where it is interpreted as “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?”. For all I know, he might be right about that. If I was in the Holy Land, I might wonder where exactly did Jesus walk, and I might want to put my feet there in his steps, if I could. Something of everything he has, is what I need, is what I’m thinking.

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