It was Good Friday yesterday, and my home church (Agape Gospel Assembly) presented their first of three nights of their Easter Musical entitled 'Who Is This Man?', adapted from an Easter Musical entitled 'More Than Just A Man' created by Chris Machen, Kim Messer and Richard Kingsmore.
During the crucifixion scene of the musical, I was reminded of a sharing my mother gave me regarding the significance of Good Friday, and the importance of remembering the death of Christ on the cross for my sins, for your sins, for our sins on this special day. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say I am?", to which Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". Indeed Peter got that important detail right, however the true understanding of Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah, might not have been entirely clear to him. After asking the question, Jesus from that time on "began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21). "Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!". Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:22-23).
I guess if I were Peter at that time, I would have probably said/thought the same thing as he did. How could our Messiah, our long awaited Saviour, our King, be a weakling and be caused to suffer and be killed in the hands of our elders, priests and teachers? That doesn't make sense, and is utterly inconceivable and illogical! However Jesus said that Peter was having a mind not in the things of God, but the things of men. In Peter's mind, a suffering and ultimately dead king would, in logic, serve no good purpose for the Israelites. Little did he understood then that Jesus, as the Son of God in the form of man, was born to die so that through his death the souls of men are redeemed. Yes, death was necessary. But what struck me most is the difficulty of that death. All of us will inevitably face physical death, and death, if you think about it, has its level of difficulty (to the person facing it). In today's society, the death penalty is made quick and painless (at least in most places), but the same is not true for the time when Jesus was facing his death. Jesus' death was one that is full of agony, mockery and shame. As a famous song goes, "Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering...". The full blast of his crucifixion was held back until he was severly flogged and whipped, and on top of that he was mocked and striped while the Roman soldiers made fun of his supposed royalty and kingship. Why all of this? Yes, Jesus was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. But why make the sacrifice in such brutality? The cost of salvation was not as cheap as a stab of a knife like most sacrificial lambs made as offerings, but as expensive as everything that Jesus had gone through. It was a costly death. Necessary? Very much, so that his grace may never, ever be taken for granted. Jesus rebuked Peter when he said "Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!", and even compared Peter's rebuke as a temptation from Satan himself. Yes, death was necessary, and along with it, grave suffering.
It is true to say, "Jesus died and rose again", but truer still to say, "Jesus suffered and died, and rose again". Let us always remember that.
In the musical, the theme song was "More Than Just A Man", which tells of Jesus being more than just a man, but the Chirst, the Son of God. While watching the crucifixion scene and inspired by the song, I thought, Jesus is "more than just a man", who died "more than just a death; more that just an ordinary death".
More than just a death
Jesus endured 'till last breath
He suffered agony, mock and shame
For our sins, he willingly came
Good Friday and Happy Easter!