It’s Easter week, and this year more than most, I am so overcome by the vast emotions of the days surrounding and including Jesus’ death and resurrection. Today, on the eve of Good Friday, I was reading pieces of this account in Mark and I was moved to tears as these scenes once again played out in my mind. You guys. Jesus is EVERYTHING to me. Nothing about Easter is cute, funny, or lighthearted to me. There is nothing I take more seriously in the entire world than the Gospel. So imagine my surprise when I found myself having my very own “come to Jesus” meeting once again, at my table, as I read the same story that changes my life every day. So true to His character, the Word came alive and began to act in my heart, revealing something so pivotal yet commonplace I was struck by how evident this truth has been right in front me.
In Mark 15, we are told that tradition was for Pilate to deliver one prisoner to the crowd. Usually a murderer or thief gets one more shot at life. Interesting that this was happening at the exact time new life was about to be offered to all that fall short. Because of every moment of Jesus’ obedience–every one of us murderers and thieves and liars get an undeserved shot at a new life. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The crowd chooses an innocent man over an infamous their and Pilate is soon delivering over Jesus to be crucified.
An innocent man, chosen to be brutally murdered instead of the thief, the deserving one? Why? Pilate knew. God knew. We know. We do it every day.
“For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” (Mark 15:10, ESV).
The NIV puts it this way: “knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.”
It was at this point in my time with the Lord that I wanted to weep.
This is the card the devil played?
I know it was God’s plan the whole time for Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice so we could have new life, restoration, redemption. But our envy was the role we volunteered to play in this? Is anyone else wrecked by this?
You see, I think it is a common misconception that jealousy is only something middle school girls have often struggle with. Oh no.
Our culture is driven by ENVY. Envy says we don’t trust God. Self-interest says God is holding out on us, so we are going to make it happen for ourselves. PRIDE says we should be God of our lives instead. Because we can make it better, do it better, know it better. Take matters into our own hands.
This poison is RAMPANT all around us. And we eat it like its candy Obviously we see it most vividly on social media because people are know wasting their days not so much watching TV but instead scrolling through different ways to be jealous. Different ways to indulge in self-glorification. The enemy is crafty but he is not creative. This is nothing new. This is what he exploited to get Jesus on the cross.
But he couldn’t keep the Son of God there.
Jesus died on the cross willingly so that when He defeated death three days later He could use the forgiveness extended to us to wreck us and rid us of envy. Jealousy. Greed. Immortality. Pride.
Our sin didn’t hold Him to the cross then and it doesn’t hold a candle to it today. Rather than our sin bringing death to Jesus on a cross, we get the opportunity to allow the cross to bring death to our sin. So we can be raised with Jesus to a NEW LIFE. Free of sin, free of doubt that God is holding out on us, because we know without a doubt He gave EVERYTHING for us. And now nothing else matters. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we get the choice to “let the cross do its deadly work in us” as A. W. Tozer describes it, and really let God be God in our lives.
Where do you see this hidden poison of greed, jealousy, and envy creep up in your life? Maybe it’s in school. Maybe it’s in your family. Your career. Maybe its in ministry. The Church. God, help us.
Wherever envy and self-interest is lurking in your life, I want to encourage you to bravely and honestly ask Jesus to allow the cross to do what He meant it to do in your life. Put to death what is earthly in us. Resurrect fierce love for Jesus alone and humility in its place. Shine your light, fresh from out of the tomb in every dark place.
Sunday is coming.