How We Handled Jesus

 
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I approached the idea of Christ’s resurrection around Easter a little differently this year—and not just because I wasn’t stateside to attend the local services and couldn’t steal any candy from my nieces and nephews’ Easter baskets. I had a revelation while reading Scripture that shifted my mindset. And because I was far from the usual traditions that sometimes distract me, I had more time to sit with it and make it the focus of my holiday season.

“Jesus went to the cross for our sins.” Of course, that shouldn’t seem like such a big revelation, because it’s literally the foundation of the Gospel. It’s something we hear about all the time. But something stood out to me in a new way while I was reading the book of Leviticus: early in the book, as God is laying out the laws for His chosen people, He describes the proper protocol for sacrificing a lamb as a sin offering.[1] There are a few steps here, but the one I began to focus on is this: the people who brought the lamb before the priest to atone for their sins would all lay hands on it, to symbolize the physical transfer of their sins. 

They laid hands on their sacrificial lamb. 

I sat with that for a moment and thought about how that translated to Christ; trying to mentally tie the Old Testament laws in together with Christ’s promise that He has come to fulfill them.[2] But then I was brought to a sudden stop when I thought of the play on words: “we laid hands on our sacrificial Lamb.” And it wasn’t in the gentle, symbolic way I envision it happening in the Old Testament. We violently laid hands on Him. We imprisoned Him, we ripped the beard off His face, spat on Him, slapped Him, hurled curses and insults, and scourged His back so deeply that he couldn’t even walk without requiring support. We mockingly adorned Him with purple cloth that touched his open wounds and surely, when ripped from Him, caused more blood to pour onto the ground. We dug thorns into His scalp and drove spikes into His hands and feet. We pierced Him in the side and watched Him suffocate on the cross. 

That is how we transferred our sin to our Savior. And still He willingly went to the cross for us. 

“Greater love hath no man than this than he lays down his life for his friends.”[3] Christ fulfilled what He Himself said was the greatest way to love others. He laid down his life for us after we sent him to His death looking less than human. Then I had a highly romanticized thought: if He looked less than human hanging there on that cross, I wondered if that made His God-ness shine through more brightly. Maybe the faithful at the foot of the cross saw shimmering glimpses of His majesty through gaping flesh and dripping blood….but then I remember what comes immediately before He breathes His last. Christ was so burdened in that moment, carrying the emotional weight of every single sin from the Garden of Eden past the here and now all the way until He returns and splits the sky. And then, what could arguably feel even worse, He feels distanced from God. He physically cries out, asking why His Father has forsaken Him. I was left to consider that maybe the line from the hymn “the Father turned His face away” is accurate. Maybe, instead of His God-ness shining all the more brightly, that’s the moment He felt forsaken because that was the moment He felt most human. And then He died.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. I can’t begin to think where we would all be if it had. Because He rose again, we have a hope beyond measure. We can revel in wonder at His sacrifice, instead of mourning His loss. That has been such a beautiful part of this revelation, as well. I’ve realized that sometimes my familiarity with my faith has made me numb to many of the most powerful aspects of it; robbing me of the awe that I should always pair with His story. So I’m sitting here, weeks after Easter has come and gone, continuing to praise Him for the punishment He bore on my behalf, attempting to wrap my head around His grace and love and majesty. Because that’s the celebration we have to look forward to for all of eternity, and I’m eager to get started now. 

 
 
 

Kayla serves as a nurse with FAI Relief. You can hear more about her time in Syria here.


 
 

[1] See Leviticus 4-5
[2] Matthew 5:17
[3] John 15:13

 
 
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