This Is Not About Eggs

NotEggsby Deana Chadwell    4/19/14
On a Friday morning 1,984 years ago, on an escarpment known as Golgotha – the Place of the Skull, Roman soldiers drove huge iron nails through the wrists and ankles of Jesus of Nazareth, affixing him to a wooden cross, and then they hefted it upright between two thieves also being crucified that morning.

This man, Jesus of Nazareth, had spent the previous night living through six illegal trials, three at the hands of the Jewish hierarchy, three with the Romans. Throughout the trials the Nazarene was beaten until he was no longer recognizable, scourged – whipped with lashes knotted around bits of glass and rocks – until his back was in ribbons, and had a wreath of jagged thorns shoved down on his head – a mockery as well as an injury.

His crime? Nothing. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, said as much, but the pressure from the Jewish crowds was more than he wanted to bear, so he literally washed his hands of the responsibility, and did as the Jewish Pharisees and Saducees, and the crowds following them wanted. Why did the Pharisees care what happened to this carpenter-turned-teacher? Because this young man claimed to be God. And even worse than this blasphemy, he actually proved it, over and over again, healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the crowds that followed him.  He paid no attention to the thousands of phony regulations they had added to the original Mosaic Law. He treated them with no deference to their position, deference they thought they deserved. He behaved with godly dignity, and power, and love.

He shamed them without even trying to do so. He also upended the scam they had going in the Temple. They had quite a thing going: a Jew would bring to the Temple an animal – a dove, or a lamb, for instance. The Pharisees would inspect the animal (which had to be perfect) and “find” a flaw. They would confiscate the imperfect animal, then sell to the petitioner a “perfect” replacement. Where did they get the “perfect” sacrifices? From the folks who had previously shown up with “imperfect” animals. These priests had it made. No overhead – all profit. Enter Jesus roaring through the courtyard overturning tables and declaring them all vipers. Accusing them of profaning His Father’s house. His father!?! No, the Pharisees weren’t going to take that.

But dramatic as it was – all the events of that historic week – the last three hours Jesus spent on that cross are what has affected all of human history – those centuries that came before the birth of Christ and for all of us who have come, and will come, later.

From noon until 3:00 that afternoon something almost incomprehensible happened. In some way we will never understand, all of the eternal hell due to each and every one of us was condensed into that small amount of time and attributed to the one man in all of history who did not deserve it. “My God, my God!” he screamed, “Why have you forsaken me?” He, who was God, who was also perfect man was separated, rejected, pushed away from everything good and perfect and true.

As God, He didn’t have to stay there and take it. The nails didn’t hold Him on that cross; His resolve to finish the task God the Father had set before Him kept Him there. “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

The sky darkened. The earth shook violently. The crowd scattered — only a loyal few stayed at the foot of the cross. When the horror was over the torn man on the center cross said, “It is finished.” And he died.

At that moment the veil in the Temple – a 4-inch thick cloth weighing hundreds of pounds, ripped open from top to bottom. It was the veil that separated the Holy of Holies, the forbidden inner sanctum of the Temple, from the Holy Place, where priests came and went many times a day. The only biblical description we have of the veil is in Exodus and there it is talking not of Herod’s Temple (during Christ’s life), but of the Tabernacle – the tent the Jews moved from place to place in the wilderness. The Mishnah, i.e. rabbinical writings, describes it as being as thick as the breadth of a hand, twenty feet wide and sixty feet tall. Even if that description were exaggerated, it’s describing a substantial piece of cloth – and this was torn from the top to the bottom. Sixty feet up and enough force to tear a woven piece of cloth downward – the thought defies physics.

So does rising from the dead. Jesus Christ had been so badly beaten and abused that He wasn’t recognizable. That happened during Thursday night and Friday. By Friday night at sundown His body had been sealed in a tomb, and yet by Sunday morning the tomb was empty and a recognizable, living Jesus of Nazareth greeted Martha and the two Mary’s when they came to care for His body. His hands and feet still bore the nail holes. His side bore the wound made by the Roman spear, yet He was whole.

Why believe that? Many compelling reasons exist – extra-biblical accounts of His resurrection, the detailed accounts in all four gospels, the care taken by the Romans to prevent any hoaxes from being perpetrated. But the most compelling of all is what happened in the following centuries – people – thousands of people all over the Mediterranean went to their deaths over whether or not this resurrection took place. The apostles were there and they were martyred for believing that Jesus Christ was who He said He was – and why were they so sure? Because He rose from the dead and they saw it. They walked all over the known world spreading the word, being beaten, imprisoned, and killed for their efforts. Yet they never recanted and neither did the thousands who heard of the story from these men. You don’t do that for a hoax, for an illusion, for a whim.

On that Friday, Passover, just outside Jerusalem 1,984 years ago our imperfections died on the cross with Jesus Christ. We have only to accept, to receive to ourselves this gift of everlasting life and joy paid for during those three hours on the cross. We can choose to think it’s all a gruesome, fantastical tale, but since the gift has already been bought and paid for that would be a terrible waste. He did this for you, personally. He gave us each the freedom to choose eternal life, to choose His assistance and friendship during this life, to choose blessing not only for ourselves, but for all those around us. Think on these things.

I wish you all love and joy this Easter.
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Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. • (4138 views)

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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I’m blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing — and more keeps popping up — needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation.
I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.

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9 Responses to This Is Not About Eggs

  1. Glenn Fairman says:

    The Sanhedrin had it right. It is expedient that one man die for the sake of a nation. Even a rotted tongue can utter wisdom it seems.

    Once again, a wonderful piece.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has an interesting interpretation of the final confrontation between Pilate and Jesus (with the Jewish leaders successfully pressuring Pilate to act even though he admits it’s unjustified).

    • Yes — I always like that part of the play. I have also always been intrigued by the “What is truth” exchange between Pilate and Jesus. The question on Pilate’s lips just drips with the same kind of superior sarcasm that comes out of the left today.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There’s a larger version of the thumbnail graphic at Deana’s site. Darned if Jesus doesn’t look a little like Robert De Niro. Or is that because I’m in the middle of watching “The Mission”?

  4. Anniel says:

    Thank you. Well done and thoughtful in the best sense.

  5. John Kirke John Kirke says:

    Wonderfully written piece, Deana.

    John Stott pointed out that both the cry of dereliction and the agony in Gethsemane make no sense at all without the truth of Christ’s substitutionary atonement. Daniel’s three friends and Stephen the first Christian martyr faced death with far less anxiety, and it cannot be that Jesus of Nazareth was less brave: it was that his cup held far more bitter stuff.

    He urged us to take up our own crosses and follow him to the place of crucifixion, but Jesus also assured us that his yoke is easy and his burden light. How do you square the circle of that contradiction? With the same answer, his substitutionary death.

    Why was Christ’s cross so heavy? Our sins rested on it.

    Why is our cross so light? Our sins have been taken from it.

    My pastor recently pointed out another truth that we can see in the garden, one of those sort of insights that you can’t un-see once you’ve seen it:

    If the penalty for sin is so dire that it made God Incarnate sweat blood from the dread of facing it, how could we not be moved to share the gospel Jesus purchased with his death, so that our friends and family might avoid that fate?

  6. Rosalys says:

    What we human beings will probably never understand is the depth of what it cost Our Lord to redeem us (really what it cost the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because the Three are One and act in total agreement). Sin is not second nature to us, it is first nature, and we cannot imagine sinlessness. Christ had never known sin, it was a totally new experience for Him (and not a pleasant one!) We were born into this world separated from God. Christ had never known separation from the Father. The three hours of separation, three hours of the Father turning His back on the Son was a totally new and terrifying experience the depths of which we cannot even being to understand. We focus on the physical pain and suffering because that we can understand. Yes, crucifixion was a horrible, horrible, horrible way to die and the Romans had the science down pat as to get the most from this form of capital punishment. But many men had no choice but to endure it, most suffering for much longer than several hours. Usually it lasted for several days. As horrible as the physical was the spiritual dimension was infinitely more excruciating.

    And He did that willingly for us!

    Thank you Deana for another wonderful piece!

    He is risen! May every day be a celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

  7. Rosalys says:

    These priests had it made. No overhead – all profit.
    Sounds a lot like the Federal Reserve! Sorry. I couldn’t help it! The more things change the more they stay the same.

    Getting back to the subject at hand, some of you may find this lecture, 11 YouTube videos in all, interesting. Paul Bromley was kind of the official spokesman for the team that went over to Italy in the 70s to do scientific studies on the Shroud of Turin. There has been a lot of talk in the intervening years about the Shroud being declared a fake. Please don’t let that prejudice you. This is well worth hearing and I recommend it highly!
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBF4341F87966F136

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