Church of God, New World Ministries

What Is Jesus Christ To You?

The significance of the Passover almost transcends human understanding! Therefore, as this most solemn observance of the year approaches once again, we should review the meaning of the Passover, and consider the tremendous price Christ paid – for us – so we can partake of the Passover “in a worthy manner,” and with a sense of deep appreciation.

To most of the Jews, Christ was just another rabble-rouser, a religious fanatic who disrupted society. To the Pharisees, He was an archrival, a competitor, a dangerous ringleader of a new cult. A threat to their authority over the people.

To the Romans, He was just another Jewish troublemaker, a popular magician who deceived people and stirred up discontent. To Pilate, He seemed harmless.

But what is Jesus Christ to us in the true Church of God?

Every year as the Passover season approaches, we as members of the Body of Christ, stop to examine ourselves and our relationship to Jesus Christ.

As the Apostle Paul puts it in I Cor. 5:7 “our Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us.”

The Passover is the most solemn occasion of the entire year. It is the time when we should review in our minds the meaning of human life, and how Jesus Christ made salvation possible for us.

The Passover marks the beginning of God’s plan – the first step toward salvation. Jesus Christ’s death made it possible for us to live eternally.

This is why the Apostle Paul wrote this: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross or stake” (Phil. 2:5-8).

Just how deeply do we think about the price Christ paid and the example He set?  God commands us to have the same attitude toward one another that Christ has toward us, one of self-sacrifice and outgoing love. (Send for our new DVD, “Is Christ Living in You?”)

We read in John 1:14 that the Word, the Logos of God, actually “was made flesh.” So, Jesus Christ was not a remote, unreachable, isolated, nonhuman “God-Being” who could not be hurt or afflicted by anything physical, fleshly or earthly. He divested Himself of His primordial divinity. He literally became a man!

The Apostle Paul tells us: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:14-16).

Jesus Christ was human – just as you and I are human. He had to struggle against Satan and his world just as we do. He also had to resist temptation and fight against the lust of the flesh.

As Paul continued: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted” (v. 18).

In Hebrews 4:15 Paul adds: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

How plain it is that Jesus Christ went through all the human temptations which are natural to man. But there was one great difference – Christ never gave in. He never sinned!

Yet, considering the fact that Jesus Christ was in excellent health, and lived a vigorous masculine life, and considering the suffering and trials He had to go through; no doubt He was tempted far me than any other man who has ever lived.

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared: though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:7-9).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Logos made flesh, was acutely human. But He rose above His humanity. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He struggled against temptation. And in so doing, He became our Savior. He, God in the flesh, died for us, took our place on death row, so that we might live forever with Him!

The Passover is God’s yearly memorial of that fact.

But just how much was Jesus Christ tempted? Just what did He have to go through for us? Is there any way in which we can begin to grasp just what He did for us, as individuals?

The last day of Christ’s human life probably began much as any other day, with one difference: It was the celebration of the annual Passover when the people of Israel killed the Passover lamb, in remembrance of the first Passover kept in Egypt when the firstborn children of Israel were spared!

Jesus Christ knew, as that Passover approached, that it would be His last one on earth at that time. At that last Passover dinner Christ told His disciples: “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me” (Matt. 26:21). He added: “He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me” (v. 23).

One of the 12 disciples – Judas Iscariot was the one who betrayed Him. One of Christ’s closest friends. A person with whom He had spent many hours during the past 3 ½ years. Jesus Christ felt as David wrote: “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, had lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9).

Can you imagine what it would be like for one of your closest friends and confidants to betray you? What must it be like to know that a close and loved friend is about to cause you to be put to death?

After partaking of the Passover supper and changing the emblems of the Passover to the bread and wine, typifying Christ’s broken body and shed blood for our sins, Christ Jesus gathered with His disciples for a final hymn (Mark 14:26).

Later that same evening Jesus took His disciples as was His custom to the Mt. of Olives, that mountain to which He is soon going to return (Zech. 14:4). They came to a garden nearby called Gethsemane, meaning “an oil press,” probably a small olive grove. Jesus then took with Him James, Peter and John, “and began to be greatly distressed, troubled” (Mark 14:33). He was no doubt thinking about His impending death and crucifixion. Knowing that He would soon die, the first and only time that God has ever died; and that His death would be preceded by extreme pain, suffering and humiliation – Jesus Christ was human enough not to want to go through with it, if there were any other way.

“And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said Abba, Father, all things are possible unto you; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14: 35-36).

The outpouring of deep emotion prior to such a dramatic ordeal was a natural reaction. But notice that even in the midst of such inner torment and mental suffering Christ was perfectly submissive to His Father’s will. He did not beg, whine, or wheedle for His own way. His request was earnest, heartrending and heartfelt – just the way we should pray.

But there was no alternative to be found. There was only one way mankind could be saved. A life more precious than that of all men put together would have to be sacrificed to pay the penalty for man’s sins. Only one life could do that, the life of God. So, Christ had no option; there was no other course.

Even in the midst of this tremendous personal suffering, Jesus Christ did not falter. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). But the disciples, during this fervent prayer, fell asleep (Matt. 26:46-47). Immediately after that, Judas came to betray Him.

Jesus Christ, very God in the flesh, the Creator of mankind (Col. 1:13-18), was hunted down like a common criminal – a man with a “reward” on His head. A band of soldiers, an armed posse with swords and clubs led by the traitor Judas, searched for Him. Judas, to whom Christ had given every opportunity for greatness, despised and rejected His promises, and came to Him saying, “Rabbi,” and betrayed Him with a kiss (Mark 14:44-45). To understand what a kangaroo court this was and how Christ was railroaded and framed, read our two articles – 12 Reasons Christ’s trial was illegal.

So, let us pick up the story in Mark 15:1-5 “Immediately in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.”

Pilate asked Christ what he had done and if He was the King of the Jews. In John 18:33-35 Jesus didn’t even bother to dispute the false testimony of the Jews who railed against Him.

When Pilate learned that Jesus Christ was from Galilee he sent Christ to Herod, after Herod was finished mocking Christ and mistreating Him, he sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate finding no fault with him wanted to release Jesus. Pilate didn’t have the courage to stand up to this mockery, he had Jesus scourged and then led away to be put to death.

While experiencing the most horrible form of suffering known to man – scourging-- who was Christ concerned about?

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What does those selfless words mean to you and me?

My friends, we need to understand this: it wasn’t just the chief priests, elders and scribes among the Jews who were responsible for Christ’s death, nor the common people who had cried out “Crucify Him,” nor was it the Romans soldiers who nailed Him to the stake.

It was our sins – yours and mine-- that caused the death of our Savior, our Creator, the Messiah! You and I were responsible, we are guilty of the blood of the Son of God.

Before we were converted, we, with those who lived then, would have cried out “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”! We in God’s true Church can thank God for His priceless mercy and forgiveness and pardon.

Thank God that Jesus Christ was willing to pray, while under extreme duress, “Father, forgive them.”

Jesus Christ went through extreme suffering for all mankind. But we must not forget the enormous grief and pain the Father must have gone through, seeing His only begotten Son die an excruciating, shameful, horrible death.

Notice what the Apostle John wrote about Jesus Christ: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atonement or make amends for our sins” (John 4:8-10).

Do we consider the great all-encompassing scope of that supreme love? God loves you and me, but he also loves all of mankind, otherwise He surely would not have allowed Christ to go through with the awesome ordeal Jesus experienced.

Years after the death of Christ, the apostle Paul wrote this: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns: It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:31-34).

You and I now have peace with God through Jesus Christ, we have access to the throne of God in heaven, we are no longer cut off from God because of our sins. With God’s help and inspiration, we are now on the road to eternal life and salvation.

All this was made possible because Jesus Christ was willing to die for us, suffering the miserable death of crucifixion. It was only possible because God the Father was willing to let His precious Son die for us, because He loved us so much. Think about these things as the spring Holy Days approach us.

Passover is not just a Jewish feast.  It is one of God’s Feasts.  Read it in your own Bible.  Leviticus 23:2, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD…”  There it is.  The feasts of the Eternal—God’s, not Jewish, feasts.  God commands this feast be observed forever.  This year the Passover will be observed March 29th, after sunset.

 
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