The opposition to Jesus ministry increased at an alarming rate, especially after He exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Whenever and wherever Jesus taught and ministered, the Pharisees were there looking for a way to take Him down. They baited Him with questions that might cause Him to contradict the Scriptures. (John 8:5, 6, Luke 20:20, Matthew 19:7, Mark 10:2, etc.) They unleashed negative propaganda that would expose Him as a false prophet, and even announced that He had a demon. (John 8:48) Through it all, Jesus stayed focused on the ultimate reason for His incarnation; the giving of His life so man could be forgiven and reconciled to his Creator. We must never forget that Jesus was wholly human as well as divine. What Jesus went through for three years is hard to fathom. Knowing His labor would end at the Cross must have weighed heavily on Him. His times of prayer must have been long and intense. His life touched the multitudes, but the depth of interaction seemed to only be superficial. How quickly the crowds filtered away after they received healings and witnessed miracles. On Palm Sunday, the throngs broke the sound barrier with shouts of “Hosanna,” but by Friday, the chants were “Crucify Him.” Even Jesus’ own Disciples had a difficult time understanding what Jesus was all about, as evidenced by only one of them appearing at His crucifixion. (John 19:26, 27)
Jesus realized that time was of the essence and, for three years, He relentlessly walked the hills and valleys of Israel showing the love of God. We hear Jesus saying a number of times that “my hour is not yet come.” (John 7:6, 8) The Scriptures reinforced His words with similar references. (John 8:20, 12:23, 13:1) Finally, the hour arrived. Jesus, facing the cross, initiated His last few hours of freedom in prayer, acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice that was before Him. (John 17:1) His betrayal by one of His own chosen disciples was something to behold. As Jesus and His apostles were in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, Judas approached with a contingent of guards from the High Priest and kissed Jesus on His cheek as a way of identifying Him to the mob. Jesus looked at Judas and simply said, “Friend, why are you here?” (Matthew 26:50) “Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48) Jesus had wept over Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41) He also wept at the home of Lazarus when He saw the unbelief of Mary and her contingent of mourners. (John 11:35) He spread the Truth with love and compassion. No matter what obstacles confronted Him, He continued unwavering in showing the love of God. He would spend the remaining hours in intense intercession, not only for Himself, (Luke 22:44) but for those who would follow God’s plan for the world. (John 17:20)
I wonder how many Christians really understand what Jesus went through to bring us to God. There is such a flippancy of our Christian words that sometimes it even borders on sacrilege. We talk about Jesus as if He is our next door neighbor. We toss around His name as casually as we would any other name. We bring Jesus down to our level instead of being in awe of His majesty. Some refer to Him as their “brother” and by their actions treat Him as such. We seem to have lost the reverence that should be allotted to the Son of God. Just the mention of His name should bring us to our knees. He is more than a bumper sticker or a name on a hat or shirt. He is the Son of God “Who gave himself a ransom for all… ” (I Timothy 2:6) I have a hard time speaking of Him casually or with a “matter of fact” attitude, for He is Lord and deserves our greatest devotion. The next time we speak the name of Jesus, let us leave our earthly attitude and enter His presence with the respect He deserves.