Christ’s Parade to Calvary (Part 3)

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace

Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14 NLT)

An Actress Rejects Hell and God’s Judgment

In 2015, Vanity Fair wrote about the actress Jessica Alba. Her childhood was marked by many illnesses. She suffered from pneumonia four times a year, had partially collapsed lungs twice, had a ruptured appendix, and asthma since she was a child. But she also had a burning desire to leave a mark on the world. At age 12, she claimed to be a devout born-again Christian and joined a conservative Christian youth group. Alba said: “I was seeking a purpose. I wanted to exist for a reason.” But at age 17, she was turned off by the boundaries and labels set by churchgoers. She couldn’t believe that God could or would condemn people for sexual sins outside of marriage between one man and one woman. Instead acting opened Alba to a new world of creative people and a community where she felt like she belonged. She said, “I feel like God is love and everyone is human.”1

Jessica Alba expressed what many Americans believe. But just because we feel something doesn’t mean it’s real. And just because we think something doesn’t mean it’s true. The Bible says that Jesus’ atoning death demonstrates God’s righteous judgment against sin and His saving love at the same time. Scripture says: “Christ Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.2

The Palm Sunday parade takes Christ to His crucifixion and death on the first Good Friday and His victorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. It’s a well known story, but let’s look closer at some more details.

This post builds on Christ’s Parade to Calvary (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Jesus Voluntarily Offered Himself for Our Sins

Christ’s triumphal entry showed that He was in complete control of His circumstances, not passive. He willingly gave Himself to save us. On different occasions, Jesus said:

  • The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected. And He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
  • No one takes My life from me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.
  • I can now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels to rescue Me.3

Ray Overholt’s hymn builds on these Scriptures and says: On the cross, “Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free. He could have called 10,000 angels, but He died alone, for you and me.”

Because He loved us, the Son of God volunteered to be our Savior. Jesus freely left heaven and came to earth. He willingly gave up His life, rose again, and ascended back to heaven. Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice so His followers could be freed from sin’s grip and gain new life in Jesus. The Son of God freely left the comforts of a sinless heaven to bring everlasting comfort to people on a sin-saturated earth.

What great news! Jack Miller says, “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine. And you’re more loved by God than you ever dared to hope.”

Here is another stanza from Henry Milman’s hymn:
Ride on! ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, Your triumphs now begin over captive death and conquered sin.

When Christ Looked His Weakest…

The whole New Testament emphasizes that Jesus wins a cosmic victory by His death and resurrection. Colossians says: You (Christ’s followers) were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, Jesus disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.4

When Christ looked His weakest, He was His strongest! Jesus was crucified in our place and raised from death to cast out and condemn Satan.5 Christ broke the devil’s power of death.6 Jesus has rescued His believers (past tense) from the dominion of darkness and brought us (past tense) into His kingdom. His atoning work is accomplished, completed, and finished! Now in Jesus, we have redemption (present reality), the forgiveness of sins. And forgiveness is just the tip of the iceberg. But it begins a whole new relationship with God. We have peace with God through Christ.7

Prayer: Lord Jesus, watch over us with Your protecting care as we gather in Your house of prayer. We claim Your promise to be with us always. Cleanse our hearts, minds, and lives again and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to live worthy of the high calling we have received. Keep us from stumbling and bring us to Your glorious presence without fault and with great joy. Bring all Your flock, redeemed from sinful stain, home to You to sing Your praise again. Amen.8

To be continued

Notes (various Bible translations):     1 Derek Blasberg, “How Jessica Alba Built a Billion-Dollar Business Empire,” Vanity Fair (12-1-15).     2 1 Peter 2:24-25, quoting Isaiah 53:4-6.     3 Luke 9:22; John 10:18; Matt 26:53.     4 Col 2:13-15.     5 John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11.     6 Heb 2:14; 1 John 3:8.     7 Col 1:13-14 NLT.     8 This prayer builds on several hymns and Scriptures.