One of the more interesting, and thought-provoking, Lenten sermon series that I came across during my years as a parish pastor was titled: Who Wants Jesus to Die?
On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, He laid aside His garments, like a slave, and began to wash the feet of His disciples. Look at the kind of men that He was serving...Judas would betray Him...Peter would deny Him...and the other disciples would flee from Him when things got too dangerous in the Garden of Gethsemane.
But His service did not end with the washing of their feet, His work of service would cause Him to be lifted up on that cursed tree of the cross. After Jesus had washed the feet of them all, Judas leaves them in order to set into motion the events that would bring Jesus to the cross; and, waiting in the background, were all kinds of individuals who would want Jesus to die.
The Jewish leaders want Jesus to die for He had confronted them with their false beliefs and false way of salvation. Their plan was simple -- this Jesus must die so that they can keep their place, their nation, and their position of power.
The Father wants Jesus to die. Not many earthly fathers want their children to die; matter of fact, most fathers would give their lives for their children. Yet, already in the Garden, the Father promised that the Son would come so that Satan could be defeated (1 John 3:8b) and eternal life be given to those who looked forward to the Son's coming and the salvation that He would bring (1 John 5:11-12).
At the very beginning of His ministry, as He was being baptized in the Jordan River by John, the Father revealed that this Jesus must die in order to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). At the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah review with Jesus all that must be done so that the Law and the Prophets would be fulfilled (Luke 9:30-31).
Isaiah summarizes His saving work in this way: "He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from His wounds" (Isaiah 53:5). And as Paul writes: "for our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Satan wants Jesus to die. Satan, throughout the Old Testament, sought to stop the world's Savior from being born. Three examples for your consideration: at the time of the flood, only Noah and his family is left yet God was able to make a new beginning with them; and, at the time of Jesus' birth, King Herod sought to kill Jesus by killing all of the baby boys two years and younger in the region of Bethlehem; and, at the time of His crucifixion, we hear Satan shouting through the voices of the religious leaders, and the people of Jerusalem, demanding that Jesus be crucified and not realizing that His death on the cross would bring about his defeat.
Barabbas wanted Jesus to die so that he could be set free. Barabbas deserved to die because of the criminal acts that he had done; as we know from the life of our Lord, He was without sin and should have been the One to be set free by Pilate that day, not Barabbas.
And that is why it was so difficult for the disciples to understand Jesus’ message when He, on three separate occasions, told them that “we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him; and after three days He will rise!” (Mark 10:33-34).
In a way we are like Barabbas, we needed Jesus to die...so that He could become our substitute and fulfill all righteousness and be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. "For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
May you experience a blessed Lenten journey to the cross and to His resurrection!