The young carpenter’s name was Jesus of Nazareth. Until the age of 30, he worked with his father as a carpenter to eke out a meager living. Then one day he set out on his own, teaching this new gospel with power and conviction. He began to perform miracles, healing the blind and the lame and the leprous, and as word of his great deeds spread, many began to seek him out.
As his following grew, he began to attract the attention of the ruling class, the Pharisees, who saw in him a danger to their own power. In an effort to discredit him, they sought to trap him with devious questions. Yet Christ knew their thoughts and the wicked designs of their hearts, and he rebuked them and exposed them for the hypocrites that they were. He rightly accused them of appearing to draw close to God with their words, while their hearts were black with malice and a lust for power. When he performed miracles, they became angry and fearful. If he was who he said he was, then by right he was not only the king of Israel, but the king of all the Earth. When Jesus Christ proclaimed himself as the Son of the Living God, they became enraged and sought his life, accusing him of blasphemy and demanding he be put to death.
As sunlight dawned on the first day of that Easter week, no man on Earth knew that this young Jewish carpenter was about to change the world forever. Even the apostles and disciples that were by his side daily did not grasp the profound importance of what was about to occur, and the implication for the salvation of all mankind. On the fifth day before Passover, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey as foretold by the ancient prophets, the rejoicing Jews throwing palm fronds on the ground in front of him and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”
All the while, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, had gathered in secret in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas, to plot the death of the Christ who had become a danger to their power. Judas Iscariot, whose name will forever be synonymous with betrayal, came to the elders and offered to give up the Christ in return for 30 pieces of silver. Yet Jesus, our God made flesh, had already prophesied of the dark deed, telling his apostles “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”
With his death imminent, Jesus gathered the apostles for the Last Supper, announcing the betrayal, and introducing the ordinance of the sacrament of the new testament, the bread and wine a symbol of the flesh torn and the blood shed for the salvation of all mankind through the remission of sins.
One can only imagine how Jesus must have felt next, as he made the walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, understanding what would come next, but not yet fully comprehending the pain and suffering he would endure. Yet that realization dawned on him as he asked all the disciples to stay at the entrance, except his beloved Peter and the sons of Zebedee, who he exhorted to come further and be near as he prepared to endure his greatest suffering. Then he went a little further, and “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Then he returned to the sleeping Peter and bade him awake, and be vigilant, lest he enter into temptation.
Then Jesus “went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Yet it was the Father’s will that his perfect son, that gentle lamb in whom there was no sin, might suffer for the sins of all mankind, that through His atonement all mankind might be saved. And so it was that Jesus Christ found himself alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering torturous pain, a pain so great that it brought the Son of God to his knees, his blood like sweat, wrenched from his body.
The rest of the story is familiar to all of Christendom. Christ was betrayed by Judas with a kiss, and taken before the Jewish elders to be judged and condemned. He was turned over to Roman authorities, after which he was beaten and spit upon, whipped and scourged so that his flesh was torn from his body, a crown of thorns placed upon his head. After all of these indignities and sufferings, he carried his cross as far as he was able, and then on the hill of Golgotha he was laid upon the cross and held as great spikes were driven through his hands and feet. Raised up on the cross, his tormentors continued to mock, asking why he could not save himself, the taunting words “This is the King of the Jews” above his head.
As darkness fell over the earth, and the veil of the temple was rent in two, Jesus cried out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!” and gave up the ghost, his suffering complete. Amid the tears and lamentations of his mother and those that loved him, the body of Christ was taken down, and taken to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea for burial.
If the story ended there, then the name of Jesus of Nazareth would have been long ago forgotten, a footnote of history. Yet the story does not end there. As was testified by many who saw with their own eyes, Jesus the Christ rose from the grave that third day, a glorious resurrected being who had broken the bonds of death. This great miracle was proclaimed when the angel declared to a weeping Mary Magdalene, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, for He is risen!”
With those simple yet profound words, Jesus Christ had established his reign forever, the great ruler of all mankind. Through the suffering of His atonement, he had defeated the chains of death and Hell, and secured that victory over the grave through which all mankind could be saved by accepting Him as their Lord and Savior and following in the path of His righteousness.
As a young boy, I watched as my mother slowly wasted away from cancer, that vile disease consuming her body from the inside, a cruel and merciless destroyer that left her broken and lifeless. I laid my head upon her belly and held her hand as she took her last breath, my own body wrenched with sobs as I mourned her passing. Nearly 30 years later, I would sit at my father’s bedside as his body was also consumed by disease, and again I poured out tears of sorrow.
Yet for all of those tears of sorrow shed, how grateful I am at the joy I have in my Savior! For as He died and rose again, so shall my own mother and father rise again, free from the sorrows and suffering of this world. Through His atonement, each of us will be rejoined with those we’ve lost, and what tears of joy will then be shed as we raise our voices in acclamation, proclaiming “The Great Redeemer Lives!”
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be emailed at email@example.com.