That was the question she approached and asked me while I prepared my Easter sermon in a coffee shop. "Are you a pastor?" she began.
"I am," I replied with hesitation and hope.
"Can I ask you a question that I've never received a clear answer on?" her tone pleaded.
"You can," I invited.
"Why did Jesus have to endure such an awful death? Couldn't God have done it in a way that didn't involve such suffering," she wondered.
We talked back and forth for several minutes, and, by the kindness and help of God, she had some moments of clarity and amazement she's been chasing for decades. What follows in this post isn't the dialogue that I had with her, but a Good Friday reminder of what Jesus did and why He did it.
As the sun prepared to rise on the day of the Messiah’s death the following events unfolded (times approximate based on Scripture).
5:55am: Jesus is falsely standing trial while being verbally degraded and physically abused.
He is the Patient One who endures anger and ignorance so that He might identify with our anger and ignorance and bear the guilt of them on the cross.
7:30am: Two men are presented to the agitated crowd. They chose the murderer rather than the miracle worker, a criminal rather than the Creator.
He is the Despised One whose grace and truth are reviled, but whose grace and truth will engulf all that the Father has given to Him.
7:45am: Governor Pilate has Jesus physically tortured beyond recognition seeking to satisfy the crowds.
He is the Crushed One who stood devotedly in love for us despite our rejection of Him, so our rejection might be forgiven.
8:30am: Mocking soldiers "robe" bloody Jesus, crush "crown" of thorns in His skull, and use a reed "scepter" to beat Him more.
He is the Kingly One who set aside His royalty so that doubters could be pardoned and invited to His eternal Kingdom.
8:45am: Weakened, wearied Jesus is cruelly paraded through Zion’s streets while being weighed by the instrument of His death.
He is Committed One whose steps now, and in all of life, were walked for us so that through Him we might be healed.
9:00am: Jesus is pierced crudely and hung nudely. Real nails. Real shame. Real murder.
He is the Willing One who endured the cross, scorning its shame, for the joy of liberating us from sin's shame and judgment.
10:00am: They make a game of His garments, scoff with wicked words, and dare the Deity to deviate from Eternity's Plan.
He is the Silent One abiding the unfair day of brutal Grace to bring about an unceasing day of blazing Glory.
10:30am: Surrounded by sin, He speaks, "Father, forgive them," and to one with faith, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise."
He is the Atoning One washing soul stains and breaking depravity chains by substituting His life for ours.
12:00pm: Darkness. Rocks breaking. Earth quaking. Creation depicting Father's forsaking as He who knew no sin became sin.
He is the Forsaken One experiencing our condemnation so that God's face and smile and favor can be forever towards us.
1:00pm: A curtain has stood for 1500 years dividing Holy God and unholy man. Now it shreds.
He is the Mediating One bringing rebels and Ruler together, reconciling enemies into eternal family members.
2:00pm. He lifts His fainting eyes upon His mother and calls for her care.
He is the Loving One who devotedly, endlessly sets His eyes upon those He calls family, as our adoption papers are signed in His blood.
3:00pm. "It is finished." He says so. He chooses to give up His spirit because the suffering servant is the sovereign King.
He is the Conquering One who stands on the head of the enemy at the moment the enemy thought to vanquish Him.