Jesus knew that in order to save us, you and me, that his death was necessary.
Did you ever see the movie “The Prestige”? If not, stop whatever you are doing and go watch it. Twice. Yes, it’s that good. *Spoiler alert* Although they each had drastically different ways of pulling it off, both Angier and Borden had found a way to die, and yet, still be alive. They both had one final trick that would prove they were the best and at the same time exact revenge on their foe. Much like we sat on the edge of our seats waiting to see how Christopher Nolan would resolve this twisting turning movie, I imagine all those who stood at the foot of the cross while Jesus was being crucified waited with anticipation to see how this would all end.
It’s easy to know what some people were thinking as they stood there, partly because we are told! People passing by, the priests and teachers of the law, even the criminal on the cross next to him all expressed the same thing, “You’ve saved others, save yourself!”
I’m sure all of these people were thinking back to specific moments in time. That one time Jesus did the party trick and turned water into wine, his disciples probably switched it while he was distracting the crowd. That time he made the blind guy see, definitely a planted actor. The time he supposedly brought the little girl back to life, even Jesus said she was sleeping! Everyone wanted to see just one last trick from Jesus. His final act that would astonish them all, leaving them breathless. That “Prestige” moment when Jesus disappears from the cross and reappears 100 feet behind them.
And then it happened, or rather, it didn’t happen. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” (Mark 15:37) Everyone wanted to see that one last trick, but the worst part is there was no trick, no secret. The blood wasn’t ketchup, the nails weren’t spring-loaded, Jesus wasn’t the best actor/illusionist who had ever lived. He died. For real. No tricks. No magic.
But what was seen as the worst part, was actually the best part!
What no one knew at that point was that because he died, he would save many, many more. Yes, he’d saved some in the past, but Jesus knew that in order to save us, you and me, that his death was necessary. Not a mostly dead death, but a real, complete, final death. It is only once something has died that it can be brought back to life. If Jesus hadn’t died, then he would still have been the same person he’d always been, but instead, he died so that he could become so much more, so that we could become so much more.
This week, consider what the real death of Jesus means for you. And remember, Jesus saved you by not saving himself.