Imagine this scene:
You’re one of Jesus twelve disciples. You rode into Jerusalem earlier in the week for Passover, and you’ve been expecting big things. After years of playing around at the fringes, this was the week when he was finally going to do something dramatic, and show the world that he really was the long-awaited Messiah. You didn’t know what he was going to do, but you knew it was going to be BIG.
But now it’s Friday, and instead of glorying in victory you’re standing on a rocky crag just outside the city walls. The stench from gehenna, the city’s burning trash dump, fills your nose. Old patches and fresh pools of blood lie everywhere on the ground. All around you are the sounds of grief and agony—some wailing softly, some crying out and yelling.
In front of you is your Master, the Rabbi you gave up everything to follow. In the last three years you’ve seen things you can’t explain. A mighty storm calmed with the power of a single word. Insane and possessed lunatics restored to their right mind. The blind are seeing. The deaf are hearing. The lame walking. Even the dead live again.
Not only have you seen what can only be called supernatural events happen at this man’s command, but he’s reinterpreted your millennia-old traditions in ways that nobody had ever thought of before, and done so with conviction and authority. He completely befuddled your religious authorities at every turn, exposing some of them for the hypocrites and dead-souled fiends they were.
Truly, if anyone ever had been sent by God, it was him. You had bet your life on it. Gave up the family business, wandered around the country with no home and no money. Broken just about every religious rule you had learned as a child. Your priests considered you a heretic.
But it had been worth it.
He was The One. You knew it. After seeing and hearing the things you had, there could be no doubt he was the real deal. You’d heard about other men who had come before and claimed to be the Messiah, but all of them had failed, all of them were dead, and none of them had done the insanely miraculous things that Jesus had.
And this was The Week.
When Jesus told you that he was headed to Jerusalem for Passover, you knew what that meant. “Finally!” you thought to yourself. It was really gonna happen! Time to take his rightful place and put everybody else in theirs. With the kind of power Jesus wielded, nobody could stand against him. And if they didn’t listen to his words, he would make believers out of them by wielding his awesome power, calling down fire from heaven to annihilate his foes, just like Elijah. Nobody defies the Messiah.
You couldn’t wait. Either way this went down, it was going to be glorious.
But then, in the span of just a few hours, everything changed. One of your closest friends, one of Jesus’ trusted inner circle, had betrayed you all. Three years you spent with this man—what was he thinking? What possible reason could he have? Questions about Judas recede quickly though, because by daybreak, events had rapidly spiraled out of control. Judas is already old news.
Your master, your Messiah, had been beaten senseless, mocked by priests and Romans alike, and then the unthinkable…
Sentenced to death.
“I don’t get it,” you thought, “when is he going to strike back?”
He’s had Herod himself in his sights, he’s been in front of the religious leaders who had been so vocally against him, those who dared call him a heretic possessed by Satan. He had stood right next to Pontius Pilate.
And done nothing.
What was he waiting for?
All these questions fade into the background as your mind comes crashing back to the present. Back to Golgotha. And the scene that lies before you.
In front of you is your Master. Jesus. Bleeding. Mocked. Being executed. Dying.
“He saved others, but he can’t save himself,” someone nearby says. “What a joke.”
Is he right? No, no he can’t be. You’ve seen Jesus’ power with your own eyes. With one word you know he could call legions of angels to descend on his murderers like an avalanche of destruction, wiping the earth clean of their very existence. Couldn’t he? Surely he’s just waiting for the most dramatic moment to pull off something spectacular.
And yet minute by minute…his life ebbs away with each drop of blood trickling off that cross. That ugly, rugged cross.
Why isn’t he doing anything? Why won’t he rescue himself? Why won’t God do anything?
Has he abandoned Jesus?
Has he abandoned you?
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.