Any real Marvel fan knows this scene. Private Steve Rogers was the guy very few believed was the answer to America’s new secret weapon program. He appeared weak and useless. However when a (fake) grenade was tossed into the mix of his detachment, everyone scattered but him. Instead he dove onto the grenade ready to take one for the team. He yelled at them to get back and save themselves. Like all good soldiers, he was ready to die for them. This was the moment that even the Colonel saw that Steve Rogers was Captain America material.
While soldiers are ready to die for your earthly freedom, only One was ready to die for your eternal freedom. On that day as He hung on the cross, He was displaying the ultimate act of bravery. He was demonstrating the highest level of love. He was defeating Satan by taking the punishment we all deserved and carrying that burden on His own. However, instead of seeing ultimate love, power and sacrifice… the on-lookers (primarily the Roman soldiers) saw the ultimate weakness. “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”” (Luke 23:35-37)
In that culture, at that time, even the soldiers were not the sacrificial type of soldier we saw in Steve Rogers or any of our great military personnel. Instead, they saw being a soldier as a point of pride and power. The concept of sacrifice yourself for others was far from their thoughts. They also were surrounded with multiple polytheistic cultures that saw deities as more selfish than sacrificial. So to them, if He really had the powers people said He did, there would be no problem with Him saving Himself.
But Jesus had made His only attempt to save Himself with His final plea to His father (all be it a short lived plea). “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”” (Matt 26:39) From that moment on, He was committed to dying for us all. He was ready to dive on that grenade, die on that cross, and take the punishment that we all deserve.
It is for this reason that we actually celebrate the day that Jesus was hung on the cross and killed. As crazy as that sounds, we are not celebrating the fact that He died, (we actually turn around 3 days later and celebrate the fact that He has risen). But what we do celebrate on this Good Friday is that the ultimate good deed occurred. The highest price was paid for the deepest love imaginable. Jesus died a painful and slow death because of His amazing love for YOU!
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