For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2
This week is known as Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Sometimes, in our culture, we use the word ‘sacred’ to describe something that is particularly special such as a place, a person, a time or a relationship. ‘Sacred’ and ‘holy’ effectively mean the same thing, that is, something that is set apart and filled with the character and goodness of God, who is himself holy.
The incredible thing about Jesus is that he came to make people like us holy again. Our lives are not characterised by God’s goodness or purity. In fact, some of the thoughts we have, the things we say, and the deeds we do are more likely to be described as ‘profane’, rather than ‘sacred’. But Jesus did not want our unholiness to be a barrier between us and God. Instead, he wanted to remove our impurity and set us apart once more – to separate us from the profane and reunite us with God’s goodness.
Jesus achieved this through his death on the cross and the passage from Hebrews quoted above shows that Jesus did this with a sense of joy. It wasn’t pleasant or enjoyable dying on a cross, being scourged by the soldiers or mocked by the Jewish authorities, but Jesus was able to look beyond his circumstances to see the joy that was set before him, the joy of reuniting people like us with God our Father.
Being crucified was a shameful way to die, as the clip below makes clear – I encourage you to check it out.
However, Jesus’ determination to take our shame away meant that he endured his suffering with a sense of joy.
This is an unfathomable mystery – a sacred moment. No wonder we call it Holy Week.
I hope you can set apart some time this weekend to visit a church, so you can experience and receive God’s holiness for yourself.