Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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The Way of Sacrifice
Finished! The Message of Easter
Terry R. Baughman
Jesus, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:7–10 NKJ).
In God’s amazing preparation for redemption He predicted a plan, a pattern, and a purpose to bring us to Himself. His plan provided for the incarnation, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). His divine pattern was fulfilled in that, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). His purpose was fulfilled by His death on the cross, His burial in a borrowed tomb, and His ultimate resurrection. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Typically, we rush through the centuries to get to the conclusion and the ultimate outcome of Christ’s story. However, God did not rush the narrative or short-circuit the process. He prepared the path of suffering and reluctantly anticipated the sacrifice and death. In preparation, “Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Not only did He know the way of sacrifice, but He prepared His followers to join Him in this journey.
His prayer in the Garden demonstrated His knowledge of what was to come, but also His trepidation, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39). However, in full surrender, He submitted His flesh to the plan of God from the beginning. He drank the dregs from the cup of suffering knowing that this indeed was the purpose for which He had come. His life and death and the promised resurrection was all a part of the plan, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world” (John 18:37).
The outcome was worth the suffering. The fulfillment was worth the sacrifice. Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). The way of sacrifice was a necessary part of the plan. It was the pathway of process to accomplish His intended goal. Without His suffering there would be no salvation. Without His death on the cross there would be no redemption from sin. Without the cost of sacrifice there would be no joyous reward of accomplishment. If there had been no death, no tomb, no cold dark separation, there would have been no resurrection, empty grave, and brilliant sunrise of hope and expectation!
The way was clearly marked. It was not an easy way to travel, but the ultimate knowledge of completion made it bearable, and the anticipated joy of the outcome makes even the suffering something to be embraced. May we walk on the way of sacrifice with a full assurance of faith in Christ’s finished work!
“… although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3).