Before Easter could come, he passed through betrayal, abandonment, false accusations, humiliation, mob rule and a judicial system disfigured by the lust for power, a system that mocked truth.
Before Easter could come, he stumbled through a gauntlet of angry fists, hurled insults, a shower of spit, laughter and scorn. Yet these would seem almost a kindness compared to what would follow.
Lashings, beatings, thorns thrust into the skin. Sleep deprivation burned away by burning pain. Chains, armed guards and a show trial by a ruler who might have used his powerful hand to reverse every injustice, but instead washed himself in a basin of cool water and joined the mob.
Before Easter could come, Jesus had to lug that heavy cross through the rough city streets and upwards to the Hill of Skulls. He had to endure iron spikes through his hands and feet, thirst and hunger, trembling and cramping muscles, lungs burning for air, the relentless sun and the taunts of the crowd.
All of these things he endured, for us.
He was crucified for my sins. He bled for my iniquity. The guilt and shame of my disobedience to God was laid heavily on his head. He was an innocent man burdened, crushed beneath a heap of wrongs that belonged to me, you, all of us.
Before Easter can come, the awful price of our disobedience against God must be paid in full.
And Jesus paid it, willingly. As his blood ran down that wooden cross, he gasped for his last breath and said, "It is finished. Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands."
His lifeless body was lovingly carried to a rock tomb where he was hastily bound in linen and burial spices and closed in behind a huge stone. Guards were posted to keep the body from being disturbed.
And God wept and waited for Easter.
Illustration credit: Eugene Delacroix