THE LONG, LONG ROAD PAVED WITH BLOOD
By: Frank G. Tunstall
It goes without saying Jesus was under great pressure after His triumphal ride into Jerusalem. The Lord knew He had to drink the very bitter cup of the sins of all mankind against God, and that meant death by crucifixion awaited Him in a few more days (Romans 1:18-32). In fact, the whole city was astir and emotions were swirling. Lots of whispering was going on.
A divine timeline runs through history from Adam to Calvary. Jesus actually thought and talked about that timeline in terms of His “hour” (Matthew 26:45; Mark 14:41; John 12:23-27). It was for good reason the Lord was concerned about timing. Jesus knew He had to stay in control of His timeline to the point His death would be in sync with the lamb slain at the Feast of Passover a few days hence. Jesus’ death could not come before the Feast, or after the Feast. It needed to occur on a timeline comparable to the slaughter of the Passover lamb. This is true because Jesus Himself was from eternity the perfect and final Passover sacrifice. This also presupposed all of the prophetic scriptures about Jesus had to be fulfilled.
Jesus’ mission as the Christ, the Messiah, first came into focus in recorded history with the lamb slain in Eden to cover Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness. Out of that sacrifice also came the very first promise of a redeemer (Genesis 3:15, 21). From there the trail of blood of at least a million little animals curved and twisted in its red flow from Eden to Calvary.
The exact number of hours from Adam to Jesus’ crucifixion is almost impossible to calculate; 5,000 years? Maybe; perhaps more. The span from Abraham to Jesus’ crucifixion, however, can be determined with reasonable approximation, and it covered about 1,800 years or some 15,768,000 hours.
When Jesus was born, the hour of His death and resurrection was about thirty years away, meaning the divine clock had wound down to about 260,000 hours. When Passion Week began, time had steadily clicked away to less than 200 hours. The point here is not to calculate the exact number of hours. What is vital to understand is the eternal purpose: Jesus is “the Lamb of God” and He was “slain from the foundation of the world” on a divine timeline that reached the zero hour at this particular first century Passover Feast (John 1:29, 34; Psalm 33:11).
The concept of the week of the Lord’s “passion” gets its name from a Latin word that means suffering. Passion Week is all about the suffering of Jesus in His last week of ministry that led to His crucifixion. That His death actually happened two thousand years ago is documented in both secular and Biblical history, and is identified todayas Passion Week. The 2018 annual celebration worldwide of that historic Feast of Passover in the Lord’s church is only a few weeks away.
A great lesson in the sovereignty of God is revealed in His divine handling of time so that many millions more than fifteen million hours, counting from Adam to Christ, funneled down to “the hour” during the week of this Passover Feast. In spite of all wars, tyrants, famines, emperors, kings, false prophets, exile, and all of the stubbornness and desire for independence from God in the hearts of the people of Israel, and every other kind of opposition, the divine timeline held steady. Then, “the fullness of the time” came for the drama of the ages to begin to unfold. God stepped into history and brought forth “His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5 KJV; Psalm 33:11). This divine timeline, fulfilled to perfection, is another evidence of the Deity of Jesus.
Quite understandably, Jesus was very time-sensitive throughut His ministry. This is reflected, for example, in what He said to His mother at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, “My hour is not yet come,” (John 2:4; see Luke 22:53). Then, about three years later at the beginning of Passion Week, when the Greeks visited Jesus, the Lord joyfully said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (John 12:23-27).
Jerusalem was on razor edge that week. The Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, had ordered that anyone who knew Jesus’ whereabouts must report Him (John 11:57). A cloud of hatred and jealousy had moved in from hell, and was hanging over the Holy City. The bitter opposition was thick enough to slice with a knife.
The visit of some Greeks immediately following Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is the second time foreigners came to visit Jesus. The first was when Baby Jesus was still in His mother’s arms. “Wise men from the east [came] to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:1-2 KJV). These Greeks had the same request – they wanted to “meet Jesus.”
Think about it. The symbolism is that Jesus would be attractive to people from the east and the west, or worldwide. Millions more even today, including our friends and next-door neighbors, are waiting for someone to introduce them to Jesus.
Philip told Andrew and together they brought these Greeks to Jesus. It is simply captivating what the Lord told them:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:23-27, Italics added)
The term, Son of Man, is used thirteen times in the Gospel of John. The Prophet Daniel connected the phrase directly to Messiah more than five centuries before Jesus arrived and applied the phrase to Himself. Many Jews believed when the Messiah came, He would be the fulfillment of the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision who would reign as King over an everlasting, indestructible kingdom.
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 145:13; Luke 1:32-33).
Jesus illustrated His hour with a lesson from seed. A grain of wheat properly harvested and then dried under the hot sun looks totally lifeless; dead. But it isn’t dead; instead, life is in that seed. And when it is planted in good soil and a little moisture and warm sunshine are added, that “dead” seed will spring up to new life and will produce a harvest of wheat.
Jesus presented Himself to these Greeks as this Son of Man, God’s Seed, and they perceived Jesus’ arms were open in an invitation that warmly included them. Jesus said as much. This is revealed in Jesus’ statement, “the man” [hence, any man anywhere in the world] “who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go” [and follow me] “you’ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:25 Msg). Jesus’ welcome for these Greeks to join His cause showed clearly His message was not limited to Abraham’s blood descendants only.
Jesus’ use of “the hour” at the point of the Greek’s visit is generic, in the sense that all of the events of Passion Week were part of His hour. To Jesus, the visit of these Greeks meant His hour was at hand, and the remaining countdown to Calvary was underway.
Very soon, in less than 200 hours, Jesus in abject humiliation would be nailed to a cross as “the Lamb of God.” Then, the Seed would burst into new life; resurrection would follow crucifixion, and glorification would follow humiliation.
The long, long trail of blood ended at Calvary. Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice. No more little lambs would need to die – ever! The gate to heaven ever since has been open to all people worldwide. The road to the celestial city presupposes heartfelt repentance for sins committed, and acceptance that God’s Son Jesus died in our place as the final sacrifice of atonement (Romans 3:22-25; Hebrews 2:17).
“Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us” (Hebrews 10:11-15 KJV).
There’s a line that is drawn through the ages.
On that line stands an old rugged cross.
On that cross, a battle is raging,
To gain a man’s soul or it’s loss.
On one side, march the forces of evil.
All the demons, all the devils of hell.
On the other, the angels of glory
And they meet on Golgotha’s hill.
The earth shakes with the force of the conflict
And the sun refuses to shine.
For there hangs God’s son, in the balance,
And then through the darkness he cries:
It is finished, the battle is over.
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict.
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…
By: Gloria Gaither and Willam J. Gaither