Just in case you’ve missed all the bunny and egg decorations in various stores in the area, it’s Easter. This holiday is very enjoyable, especially watching the little ones scurry around at egg hunts. Of course one part of Easter that I really enjoy is chocolate. Those Cadbury Eggs really put a hurting on my waistline.
However, Easter is not about all the pretty colors, bunnies, eggs, or even the chocolate. For Christians Easter should be about honoring the death and resurrection of Christ.
There is a commentary section in my Full Life Study Bible (KJV - Zondervan Publishing House) that outlines the sufferings of Christ in ten stages that I often refer to when I need a little reminder of what Easter is truly about. It’s about God’s love for us.
1. He began to be sorrowful (Matthew 26:37) - The spiritual and physical suffering of Christ begins in Gethsemane. “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Under great stress, the small capillaries in the sweat glands can break and mix blood with sweat.
2. They spit, buffeted and smote Him (Matt 26:67) - After the arrest at night and abandonment by His disciples, Jesus is brought before Caiaphas and the Jewish Council. He is blindfolded, mocked repeatedly, spat on, and struck in the face.
3. Delivered to Pilate (Matt 27:2) - In the morning, Jesus, battered and exhausted, is taken across Jerusalem to be interrogated by Pilate. Barabbas is released and Jesus is scourged and delivered over to be crucified.
4. Scourged Jesus (Matt 27:26) - (1) The Roman scourge consisted of the victim being stripped and stretched against a pillar or bent over a low post, his hands being tied. The instrument of torture was a short wooden handle to which several leather thongs were attached, with bits of iron or bone tied to the thongs. The blows were laid on the victim’s back by two men, one lashing the victim from one side, one from the other side. This resulted in the flesh being cut to such an extent that veins, arteries, sometimes even organs were exposed. Often the victim died during the flogging. (2) Scourging was hideous torture. The inability of Jesus to bear His own cross is no doubt due to this severe infliction (v. 32; Luke 23:26). “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24)
5. A scarlet robe...A crown of thorns (Matt 27:28-29) - Jesus is untied and placed in the middle of the Roman battalion (v. 27). The soldiers put a robe across His shoulders, place a stick in His hand, and press a circle of branches covered with long thorns on His head. The soldiers mock and strike Him across the face and head, driving the thorns deeper into his scalp (v. 30-31).
6. Led Him away to crucify Him (Matt 27:31) - The heavy beam of the cross is tied to Christ’s shoulder. He begins the slow journey to Golgotha. The weight of the wooden beam, together with sheer physical exhaustion, causes Him to fall. He tries to rise, but cannot. Simon is then pressed into service to bear His cross.
7. They crucified Him (Matt 27:35) - At Golgotha the cross beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is laid on it. His arms are stretched along the beams and a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail is driven through His hand (or wrist), first into the right, then into the left hand, and deep into the wood. Next Christ is lifted up by means of ropes or ladders, the cross beam is bound or nailed to the upright beam, and a support for the body is fastened on it. Lastly, His feet are extended and a larger piece of iron is driven through the two.
8. Reviled Him (Matt 27:39) - Jesus is now a pathetic spectacle, blood streaked, covered with wounds, and exposed to the view of the people. He experiences hours of pain in his entire body, fatigue in His arms, great waves of cramps in the muscles, and skin torn from His back. Then another agony begins -a crushing pain deep in the chest as fluid begins to compress the heart. He feels an intense thirst (John 19:28) and is aware of the abuse and ridicule of those who pass by the cross (v. 39-44).
9. Why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Matt 27:46) - These words mark the climax of the sufferings of Christ for a lost world. His cry in Aramaic, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” testifies that He experienced separation from God as the sinner’s substitute. Here the sorrow, grief, and pain are at their worst. He is wounded for our transgressions (Is. 53:5) and gives Himself a “ransom for many” (1 Timothy 2:6). Him who knew no sin God makes “to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He dies forsaken, that we might never be forsaken (Psalms 22). Thus we are redeemed by the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 1:19).
10. Jesus cried again (Matt 27:50) - Christ utters His final words with a loud voice, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This cry signifies the end of His sufferings and the completion of the work of redemption. The debt for our sin has been paid in full, and the plan of salvation established. Only then does He offer a final prayer, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).