In Matthew 26:17, Jesus and His apostles are preparing for the Passover, an event we associate with the founding of the Lord’s Supper. This would lead quickly to the events of the cross and the empty tomb. These events conclude a ministry characterized by miracles, and He is followed by great multitudes in Matthew 4:25, 8:1, 8:18, 13:2, 19:2, and 21:9. Passage after passage speak of the thousands that press around Jesus, but when we come to the cross and His tomb, only a small handful are present. Where were those multitudes now?
Jesus knows that many see Him as a source of wonder while others view Him as a sideshow. Some view Him as a source of inspiration while others view Him as a source for food. In this lesson, we’re going a few examples of people impacted by Jesus’ ministry. Their lives are changed by Jesus, but they are not among those numbered at the empty tomb.
Absent Before the Cross
John 9 records Jesus and His apostles passing by a blind man whom the apostles treat as a point of theological discussion. Jesus heals Him, and the Pharisees want to use Him as evidence against Jesus since the healing takes place on the Sabbath. The blind man does not cooperate and is basically excommunicated. Jesus goes to find this former blind beggar in verse 32, leading this man to worship Jesus. Where is he when Christ is crucified?
In Luke 5:17, some men lower a crippled friend to Jesus’ presence so he may be healed. Not only does Jesus heal this man, but He proclaims his sins forgiven. The formerly crippled man leaves glorifying and praising God. The crowds do likewise. Where are he and his friends when Christ is crucified and buried?
As Jesus is teaching in John 8, a prostitute is brought before Jesus, and the Scribes and Pharisees demand Jesus proclaim judgment upon her. Jesus ignores them for a while, then asks them to stone her if they indeed feel blameless and justified in doing so. He spares her life. He forgives her sins. He shows concern for her well-being and her soul. Where is she when Jesus is on the cross and in the tomb?
We learn of Jairus and his daughter in Mark 5:35. His daughter is sick, and she is dead by the time Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house. Jesus says she is merely sleeping and raises her up. She immediately gets up and walks. Many had been there to mourn her, and he brings them joy. Where was this family when Jesus was on the cross?
What Will You Do with Jesus?
Each of us are blind, crippled, guilty, and spiritually dead because of sin. Still, Jesus loves us as he did those individuals he healed and saved. We see countless examples of people touched by Jesus, but we never see many of them in scripture again. Christ’s joyous message comes with His death. The cross and the empty tomb are inseparable. When we realize what Christ has done for us, where will we be? Will we be like the multitudes who glorified His miracles but turned away from His death?
Our relationship with Jesus should cause me to have more than feelings. It should impel us to action. John 8:11 , John 13:34, and Matthew 16:24 are calls to actions. Deny self; sin no more; love one another; take up your cross. The question is not what we feel about Jesus. Instead, what will we do with Jesus? When things are difficult, when our lives are lonely, when we are faced with the bloodstained cross, where will we be?
lesson by Tim Smelser