News Anchor: "We go now 'live' to Jerusalem. Describe the scene there for us if you can." Reporter: "Well, Dan, it's really quite a scene. A man from Nazareth has been beaten bloody by the Roman governor in Jerusalem in an apparent effort to appease this angry crowd." News Anchor: "Pathetic pictures indeed. Who is this Man? What is He being accused of?" Reporter: "It's not clear exactly what this Man named Jesus has done; the best we can determine is that He has proclaimed Himself to be the 'King of the Jews.'" News Anchor: "What's that you say? It's hard to hear you over the noise of the crowd. It sounds like they're saying, 'Crucify Him!'?" Reporter: "That's right, Dan. This Passover crowd is really in a frenzy now. They apparently want governor Pilate to crucify this Jesus. You can see Pilate washing his hands now. He has apparently had enough and is giving the Jews the go-ahead for the crucifixion." News Anchor: "That's the scene in Jerusalem right now. Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the unrest surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. When we return from our commercial break, our cameras go out to Golgotha to find out what preparations are being made for the crucifixion."
In this day of courthouse TV news coverage and the instant replay rule, this historical fiction might well have been the scene if television cameras had been present to capture our Lord’s passion. But there were no video cameras there, no on-the-spot reporting, no web coverage on the internet.
Are we missing anything because of the lack of news coverage of Christ’s passion? Why didn’t God send His Son when it would have received better coverage? Did He perhaps send Him at an inopportune time?
No, God sent His Son at exactly the right time, as He tells us (see Galatians 4:4f). God wasn’t concerned about media coverage or even with what historians would say. After all, as we have learned from this past election, the media doesn’t always get it right. You can’t always believe what you see on videotape, since such things are open to interpretation.
Just looking at a picture of this Man from Nazareth being nailed to a cross, who would have guessed that this was not just a man, but true God as well? Who would have believed that He was suffering more than simply the pain of the cross?
God Himself tells us what happened and what it means for sinful man, for He had His own team of reporters on the scene. Prior to Christ’s suffering and death, the Old Testament prophets told us what was going to happen and why. As the prophet Isaiah says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6).
The Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (verbally inspired by God the Holy Spirit) recorded the trial, suffering, and death of God’s own Son. Their report is so complete that there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind exactly what happened there in Jerusalem. In case anyone still had questions, the epistle writers provide after-the-fact analysis of what exactly happened there on the cross.
It is reported that Pilate wanted to know why Jesus should be crucified, for, as he said: “Why? What evil has He done?” (Mt. 27:23). But no earthly legal expert could tell us that it was necessary for this innocent Jesus to “die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish” (Jn. 11:50). The author of the ten commandments tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); furthermore, that all people deserve the punishment for sin, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
But no earthly judge would have come up with the plan to make satisfaction for the wrong that had been committed against God. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the satisfactory payment] for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). “He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Those who witnessed Jesus on the cross misunderstood when He cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” They said: “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” Only from God’s Word do we know that He was suffering the punishment of hell, for what He said is translated: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? (Mt. 27:46).
Only from God’s Word do we know that Jesus was doing all of this in our place and on our behalf. He lived His innocent life so that His innocence could be credited to us; He suffered and died so that His sufferings would pay for our sins, as Jesus Himself says: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). The result? “And you, being dead in your trespasses, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven your trespasses” (Col. 2:13).
Reporter: "Dan, the reports here are just incredible! Jesus has just died and the scene in Jerusalem is absolute chaos. The city has been rocked by an earthquake, the sky has gone dark in the middle of the day, and now I'm told that the veil in the temple has been torn in half! We're working to try to determine just what this all means."
Through the miracle of God’s Word we know what it means. We are eyewitnesses of this Good News. Through the eyes of faith worked by God’s Word we understand what man, looking with human eyes, tries in vain to understand. When Jesus died, the sin that separated God and man was taken away; the works of the devil were destroyed; death was conquered; when Jesus rose bodily from the dead His words were fulfilled by which He assures us of eternal life: “Because I live, you will live also” (Jn. 14:19).
Stay tuned to your Bible for continued coverage of this Good News.
–Pastor Joel Fleischer