We are accustomed to the word demonstration and people are demonstrating for everything these days. The other day, I saw that there was a demonstration for the brown bats. People are so unashamed of their sin that now they demonstrate for it. We are truly living in what the Bible calls the last days.
Have you ever had a person tell you that they loved you but never demonstrated their love? I know I have. But God has never done that. On a hill called Golgotha, God demonstrated His love for mankind. As we celebrate this Easter season, we need to remain assured that God did not just say He loved us, but He demonstrated that love to us.
In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In the verse that preceded this wonderful verse, we get the understanding that we were completely helpless and ungodly. That means we had nothing that we could ever present to God to receive His mercy and forgiveness - absolutely nothing. The word helpless that is found in verse six means to be completely void of strength. It is the Greek word asthenēs. The Greek word for ungodly in that verse is asebēs. Both of these Greek words start with the prefix “a”. Anytime we see that prefix, we need to understand it means to be completely void of the following word. We were completely void of strength and worship or piety. Do you get the picture?
With mankind in that state, God proved or demonstrated His love for us. When we had nothing to offer Him, when our sin was offensive to Him, when we were completely dead in our sin, Jesus went to the cross and died for us. Let’s look at the demonstration and let’s start before the cross. Jesus was tried unjustly by the religious leaders. He was falsely accused and then beaten. Not only that, but the very men that He had spent the last three years of His life pouring into, fled. At least Peter showed up at the trial but when Jesus needed a person to stand up and speak for Him, Peter denied ever knowing Him.
Remember Jesus had been awake all night, first in prayer and then standing trial before the Sanhedrin. At 6 o’clock on Friday morning, Jesus was led to Pilate. The Sanhedrin needed Pilate’s approval to put Jesus to death. Pilate hears the accusation and asks Jesus if He is King of the Jews, to which Jesus replies that He is. As to the rest of the accusations, Jesus remains silent. Pilate tells the crowd that he finds no guilt in Jesus, but the same crowd that praised Him a week before, began to accuse Jesus of stirring up the nation.
Pilate sends Jesus to Herod whose nickname was Antipas. His nickname describes his character. It literally means to be against all. Herod wanted to see Jesus because he had heard so much about Him. Herod begins to interrogate Jesus and the chief priests and scribes were vehemently accusing him. The soldiers were mocking Him. They dressed Him in the robe of a king and placed a crown of thorns on His head. Remember this was done to Him so that He could demonstrate His love for us.
Jesus is returned to Pilate because Herod did not want to deal with this problem. Pilate tells the people that he would punish Jesus and then release Him. That was not good enough for the crowd and they sought the release of Barabbas who was a criminal and was guilty of the accusations against Jesus. Barabbas was released as a substitute for Jesus.
Jesus is then beaten with a cat-o’-nine tails. This whip had nine tails and at the end of each was a piece of metal or bone. This whip was used by the Roman soldiers to inflict the greatest amount of pain yet not allowing the victim to die. It would tear the flesh from its victim. Many times, it would disembowel its victim. Jesus was beaten with this whip in order to demonstrate His love for us. The cross was placed on His back and as He was led away to Golgotha, as they continued to mock Him. Then on Golgotha, they laid Jesus on that cross and drove spikes in His wrists and feet.
Crucifixion is the most gruesome and painful way to die. The Romans were experts in causing suffering. The physical pain was excruciating, the emotional pain of being hung naked before people was unbearable. But the hardest part of the cross for Jesus was the rejection that He felt from His Father. He was sinless, yet He took our punishment - not only for you and me but for the whole world.
John wrote, “…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 (NASB95) A propitiation is a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God. Jesus was our sacrifice on that cross. As He hung from the cross 2,000 years ago, He did it to demonstrate His love for us. It was a demonstration that impacts the world to this day. He showed the world how much He loves them. That is the greatest demonstration of all!