The God that Succeeded
31 Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. 33 After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” 34 But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
I remember a very angry song in the 90s where the songwriter expressed his grief against God. He would basically say we Christians follow a God that failed. That failure is marked by this powerful God in Jesus Christ being crucified. The healing hand of Jesus was held back by the nails on the cross. Jesus failed. God failed.
The disciples, at the time of Jesus’ death, did feel like there was failure. That’s because they didn't quite grasp what Jesus told them: everything the prophets said about the Son of Man will be accomplished. He will be delivered to the Gentiles, be mocked, treated shamefully, spat upon, flogged, and eventually killed.
For the disciples, Jesus was the Messiah, the prophesied Son of Man, he was the Son of God. But his death didn't make sense to them. It was a tragic mistake. That wasn't supposed to happen. The plan for Jesus to reign as king has failed.
But Jesus accomplished exactly what he set out to do. His death wasn't an accident. His death wasn't a change in plans. His death was the plan. His death was his success – not failure. So much so that the plan was that death would not even be the end , because on the third day he will rise from the dead.
This accomplishment has been spelled out in so many words in what we call the New Testament, some of which was written by the very people that didn't quite understand Jesus’ accomplishment at first. This accomplishment, this suffering and death, was an act of love to save you from your sins that you may not pay the price for your own sin, i.e. spiritual death, but have this gift from God which is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Jesus didn't fail. He succeeded in giving us victory over our own sinful failures.
This accomplishment that Christ achieved was for our sake. But some of us don’t yet grasp it, just like the disciples once didn't. We understand the words, but we don’t understand the meaning. We don’t see Jesus’ death as an accomplishment for us, but just a sad thing that happened 2000 years ago. To you, remember this wasn't just a sad event in the history of humanity, it wasn't an accident, it wasn't a failure. It was an expression of love for you, to save you, to bring you back to your King. May the Spirit of God reveal this to you as He did to the disciples.
Jesus, let me see your death and resurrection as an accomplishment of love for my sake. Thank you for the gift of eternal life that I may not die in my own sins, but have life in you. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Jesus Christ’s success is found in his suffering, death and resurrection, so that He may be with the people He loves – including you.Rev. Alex Kolath. Immanuel MTC, Virginia
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church