Tragedy or Triumph


What happened to Jesus on that first Easter could be deemed a tragedy but in fact was his greatest triumph.


What happened to Jesus on that first Easter could be deemed a tragedy but in fact was his greatest triumph.

Every time Jesus went to Jerusalem there were tensions. He often visited Jerusalem for the festivals which were celebrated at the Temple in Jerusalem. He celebrated the Feast of Passover at an early stage in his ministry, when he first cleansed the Temple courts by overturning the tables in what was known as the Bazaar of Annas - where pilgrims bought animals and birds to use for sacrifices, John 2: 13 - 25, Series 2 Episode 7. He attended the Feast of Tabernacles, John 7: 1 - 13, Series 8 Episode 1, but didn’t make himself known until half way through the festival. He was aware that the Jewish leaders, whose headquarters were in Jerusalem, were watching him closely at this time and had already decided he was a ‘false messiah’, Matthew 12: 22 - 37, Series 5 Episode 6.

However, his entry into Jerusalem at the start of the Passover Festival leading up to his death and resurrection was markedly different. It has become known as the Triumphal Entry, and he was heralded by the crowd as a coming Messiah, Matthew 21:1 -11, Series 11 Episode 1. Throughout the course of the expectations of the crowd of a messiah who would overthrow not only the Roman rulers, who occupied their country, but also the religious rulers and their sterile religion were noted. Many in the crowd had heard of the recent raising of Lazarus from the dead in Bethany - not far from Jerusalem, John 11:38 -57, Series 9 Episode 10. Their expectations were high. Imagine how they felt once he had been arrested and put on trial by the Sanhedrin, and then the Roman governor and the resulting crucifixion. Their hopes of a religious and political champion were dashed. It certainly appeared to be a tragedy.

Jesus had warned his disciples on numerous occasions that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die before he would rise again, Matthew 16: 21 - 28, Series 7 Episode 2. Jesus often referred to the Jewish scriptures, which we now call the Old Testament, and specifically identified himself with the suffering servant of Isaiah -  as described in chapters 52 - 53. Another prophetic title that Jesus used was ‘Son of Man’ and yet he made it clear in Matthew 20:28, Series 10 Episode 9, that, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

By the very way in which he arrived in Jerusalem on this occasion, he was clearly confronting the religious authorities. Martin Charlesworth comments that Jesus is, ‘ultimately in control of events even though he will appear to be the victim of them. In the sovereignty of God, he's in control of the events that are taking place.’ Series 11 Episode 1. At the point of his death on the cross, he could claim, ‘It is finished,’ John 19:30, Series 13 Episode 7. He had achieved God’s ultimate plan of salvation. He had taken God’s judgement of sin. Atonement had been achieved. In fact, it was a cry of triumph! 

As the writer of Corinthians said, ‘God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ - 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV

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