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The Word on the Week

Holy Week

The week started with adulation and a triumphant entry to the city but ended in desecration at the cross. The fickleness of the crowd contrasts with the stability of the Saviour. He had “Set his face to go to Jerusalem” as St Luke graphically describes it. This was the work his Father had given him to do.

In his humanity he had read about it in Isaiah Chapter 53 “Stricken by God and afflicted”. His mother had told him the reason behind the angel’s message giving him his name, “you shall call him Jesus because he shall save his people from their sins” (St Matthew chapter 1 verse 21).

St Peter shied away from it when Jesus said that suffering, death and resurrection lay ahead. The thought of a crucified leader was not to be entertained. (St Matthew Chapter 16) Thus St Peter joined the multitudes who recoil from the cross seeing only the pain, the shame and desolation considering Jesus as a model to copy (an impossibility) rather than a saviour who was to redeem sinners by taking their place and save them from hell.

But some may say there is little textural evidence for believing that Jesus on the cross became a sin offering for us. Let’s look at Israel’s history.

The Passover which was about to be celebrated reminded the people of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. They were “blood bought”. The blood of the sacrificial lamb protected them from judgement. (Exodus Chapter 12) They were being taught to trust God.

Israel was given the commandments which showed how far short she came of God’s standards. They were being taught about the need of confession and forgiveness.

The reality is that she (and we) do not live by keeping the laws but by breaking them. God’s remedy was the sin offering whereby the repentant sinner could offer a lamb on the altar. The approach to God was always made on the basis of blood of a sacrificed animal. The animal was substituted for the sinner. Its blood purchased his pardon before a holy God. This was at the heart of the ceremonial law throughout the Old Testament and still in use in Jesus day.

But they were always provisional Hebrews Chapter 9 verses 9/10.

Man has not changed since Isaiah wrote “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Chapter 59 verse 1-2).

Jesus death on the cross spanned the separation by his taking our sins to himself. Our part is to give him our sins and not vainly try to obliterate them. The poet captures it: –

T’was not the mortal pain He bore when hanging on the awful tree,

But His pure soul in touch with hell that crushed Him in such agony.

The wounds of Christ were horrendous but the work of Christ is glorious.

And to think it’s all available to the repentant sinner out of pure grace!

Only believe.