Shattered Shadow

Today is Easter Sunday. To truly appreciate the victory we celebrate today, I believe it’s helpful to revisit Good Friday and the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice on that day. First, we need to understand that Jesus is eternal, just as God the Father is. That means that His awareness of the cross is eternal. From before the beginning of time as we know it, Jesus knew what His Father would ask Him to do. And after the creation of all things, we can track the growing shadow of the cross of Christ:

The Garden of Eden: Few people realize Jesus makes his first biblical appearance in the book of Genesis. After Adam and Even fall from God’s grace, He explains to them what life will be as a result. Then God turns his attention to Satan, who appeared in the Garden as a serpent:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

“Her offspring” is a reference to Jesus, the striking of His heel is the cross. And Satan is told that on the cross Jesus will crush his head. The shadow of the cross is in the Garden of Eden and Jesus is aware of it.

The prophets: Isaiah vividly describes Jesus’ crucifixion, some 700 years before it happens:

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-6

Take note of Isaiah’s use of the past-tense, as if these events already happened. The cross is as eternal as Jesus, and its shadow grows as Jesus’ time grows near.

In the temple: At age 12 Jesus traveled with his parents to Jerusalem for Passover. Unknown to them, He stayed behind. After several days they return and find Him teaching at the temple. And they are as astonished as the audience there by what they hear:

48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:48-50 (NIV)

This episode makes clear that at age 12 Jesus has a sense of Who He is, and why He has come. It’s not unreasonable to believe that, as a boy, Jesus had some level of awareness of the shadow of the cross.

The Last Supper and Gethsemane: After millennia of awareness of the shadow of the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice is now hours away. And His behavior shows how large the shadow has grown and how aware of it He is.

At the Last Supper He tells is apostles: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” He loved them and looked forward to the moment of fellowship with them before His death. In Gethsemane The Son of Man shows He is fully human by asking His Father to spare Him the fate that has been awaiting Him for all eternity: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)

I believe Jesus had a choice. I believe He could have stopped the crucifixion. But His choice was made in eternity. He chose you! As Max Lucado puts it: “Jesus chose to go to hell for you, rather than go to heaven without you.”

The shadow grew until the moment of Jesus’ death. And it appeared, just for a brief moment, that the shadow had grown into a darkness that prevailed over all the earth. Then, Sunday came. After Jesus paid for our sins with His death, He then defeated death by rising from the grave, shattering the shadow of the cross once for all. As Oswald Chambers put it:

The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience…The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much… But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.

And the shadow over us since the Garden of Eden was shattered forever. That is what we celebrate today. Praise God!

Pastor Jerry Bader

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