The Crucifixion of the Failed Messiah?

The disciples were scattered. What was once a promising and rising movement began to unravel as Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin. The culmination of the last three years of Jesus’ ministry had the hopes of his followers at an all-time high. Even the Pharisees confessed that the ‘whole world’ had gone after him. And now, the man who had just been celebrated and welcomed as a king riding on a donkey into Jerusalem was arrested and subjugated by the Roman Empire and their puppet-leaders in that very same city. Accusations were made, interrogations conducted, testimonies given, exchanges facilitated, and hands washed. Jesus would be condemned to death and along with him, the hopes of his followers.

Jesus’ death was not going to be a swift Roman execution. Instead, it was to be an agonizing death by crucifixion. The cross was intentionally brutal and served as a public statement for everyone to remember who was in charge. The statement of a Roman crucifixion ultimately declared that those who hung upon the cross had been defeated by the Roman Empire and now were to suffer for it. To make matters worse, it was written in Israel’s ancient scriptures that to hang upon a ‘tree’ was to be cursed. So when Jesus breathed his last, it was not seen, by Roman and Jew alike, as a victorious savior. Instead, Jesus was seen as a criminal defeated by the powers and principalities. The sealing of the tomb came as the final proclamation that this would-be messiah was finished. Yet, no one anticipated what God had planned next.

The disciples were hiding. The supposed ‘raid’ upon the tomb and the missing body of Jesus had the Sanhedrin in an uproar. As a result, the disciples had locked themselves in a room out of fear of the Jewish leaders. Even though Mary Magdalene had shared the news of her earlier sighting of Jesus, there were several in the room who did not believe her. Then the unexpected happened. With doors still locked, Jesus came and stood among the disciples. Their fears and unbelief would be directly challenged by the resurrected Jesus standing in their midst. And, like their perspectives of Jesus’ ministry just days earlier, the resurrection began to unravel the disciples’ understanding surrounding the cross.

Jesus upon the cross was an attempt to use sin’s greatest weapon against him--death. It was an attempt by the powers and principalities to have the final say over Jesus. It was an attempt to close a story that started before the creation of the world. Yet, in the resurrection, God would announce the last word over Jesus. The resurrection caused the huddle group of Jesus’ followers to reinterpret recent events and, ultimately, their story. And, it would be in the months and years to follow that the resurrection would allow Jesus’ followers to interpret his crucifixion in an entirely new light imbuing it with enormous significance.

Do you want to know what really happened in Jesus’ crucifixion? You can find out this Sunday at our Naperville or Oswego campus services. Come join us to hear more.

Pastor Corey