Of all of the times to send his son to the earth, the King chose this one. It was the will of the King to send His son, the Prince to the people on the earth. He wanted to show them His love firsthand. There was a plan in place to give the people a new way to follow the King.
The world was in turmoil. There was a government in place that was very hard and harsh. There wasn’t a lot of room for religion or for speaking one’s mind. The government had their hand in everything. The everyday people were losing their rights and their money very quickly. So it was in these conditions that they waited for their promised King to come and save them.
The soldier woke with a start. He was to report to duty very early that morning. The time off with his family was great but he also had a job to do and it was calling to him that day. There was word of a procession that would come through the town - some kind of religious thing. “Ugh,” he said out loud, “why do these religious types feel the need to force their beliefs on all of the rest of us? And why must I be the one running security for them?”
Everywhere The Prince went, the people tried to get to him. They pressed in. They clamored. They called for him. They reached out to him. For they had heard all about The Prince: There were stories of how he had healed the sick, he had raised the dead and he had fed 5,000 men with only a few fish and some pieces of bread. He spoke as one who knew what he was talking about so there was endless debate. Could he be the King – the Messiah – that their religious scholars had promised would come?
Just then, there he came, riding on a donkey through the streets of Jerusalem. There was much adulation and shouting. As he got closer, people began to lay their coats on the ground for him as a sign of respect. They waved whatever they could wave at The Prince in an attempt to honor him. Yes, there was something about this Prince.
They shouted, “Hosanna!” [Which was a Hebrew expression meaning ‘Save!’] Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" (From Psalm 118:25-26)
Watching all of this unfold, The Evil One could hardly contain his distaste. The people should be following him, not some silly Prince.
For some time, The Evil One had been nervous. All of a sudden, here was The Prince - walking on the earth. “My territory,” he thought. “If he thinks he can take my kingdom from me, well, he can’t.”
Long ago, The Evil One had tricked the ones in charge of the earth in order to gain this territory. He had brought sin and destruction to the earth so he could reign in it, so he could control it and so he could destroy these people that the King loved so much. Oh, how he hated these people! “This place is mine,” he hissed.
He smiled at his next thought, “Go ahead and heal the sick and raise the dead. I have another plan and this one will do you in once and for all.”
The Prince’s men were devoted to him. They called themselves his disciples because of their desire to follow him anywhere. Most had given up just about everything to serve with him. Several had checkered pasts but that didn’t matter to The Prince. Even though he knew everything about them, he loved and trusted them anyway. He just had a way of pulling people out of their desperate circumstances – whatever it may be. And they were always better off than before. Anyone could get a fresh start as far as The Prince was concerned.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Prince’s disciples came to him and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' “So the disciples did as The Prince had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, The Prince was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"
The Prince replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"
The Prince answered, "You yourself have said it."
While they were eating, The Prince took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (From Matthew 26:17-29).
His men didn’t really understand but they knew something was about to happen. So many times The Prince had told them something but in their minds they just couldn’t grasp it. Maybe someday they would know exactly what The Prince had meant.
The Evil One listened intently. This was going better than even he could have imagined. One of his minions was tempting someone and the man was going for it – and this was not just anyone but one of the Prince’s own men. There was an offer on the table. It was for 30 pieces of silver. The Evil One could tell the man was contemplating it – going over in his mind what it would be like to have that money in his pocket. Now if only this man would take the bait.
Then Judas, one of The Prince’s disciples, went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray The Prince. They were delighted and agreed to give him the money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand The Prince over to them when no crowd was present. (Paraphrased from Luke 22:3-5)
The soldier had reported for duty. Once again, he was going to be tasked with protecting this religious man – this time from his own people. The soldier would never understand religion. He had no use for it because it made no sense to him. A thinking man would never go for it.
Tonight there was going to be an arrest and he wanted to be a part of this one. His job was to wait for the signal and then arrest the religious man – pretty straightforward. "Now this place can get back to normal," thought the soldier.
The Prince went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. For he knew what awaited him. He knew what he needed to do for the plan to be completed but what a hard task was before him! As much as he wanted to do it another way, his love for the people couldn’t be denied. No, he had made up his mind. He would complete the plan.
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached The Prince to kiss him, but The Prince asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" No condemnation came from his eyes. Only disappointment.
When The Prince’s followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But The Prince answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. The Prince would not let anyone go away from his presence less than whole. It was always his way. Even in the midst of extreme stress, The Prince was extraordinary.
Then The Prince said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me.
But this is your hour—when darkness reigns." (Paraphrased from Luke 22:39-52). And through it all, the soldier watched and made note of the remarkable man - this Prince.
From then on, the disciples scattered. They didn’t know what to do. They were fearful and confused. In their minds it wasn’t supposed to happen this way so they gave in to their first response - and ran.
“Watch this,” said The Evil One. He and his minions had been standing around thoroughly enjoying what was happening. The Prince was under arrest. He had been taken before the judges and had been found guilty. He was going to die on a cross like a common criminal.
That wasn’t enough for The Evil One. He wanted more. He took a breath and blew in the direction of the soldiers. One of them made a “crown” out of a few sticks with long thorns coming out of them. He slammed it onto the head of The Prince. “Here,” a soldier said, “a crown fit for a king!” Everyone laughed.
“He thinks he’s the one in authority,” hissed The Evil One, “I will bruise the head of anyone who wants to usurp my authority! Take out ‘the head’ and the rest will follow. By the end of the day, I will rightly own the kingdom.”
Next, the governor had The Prince flogged - struck on his back almost 100 times by the flagrum, the Roman instrument of torture. Each time the flagrum hit him, another infirmity or sickness was laid upon him. Then he was handed over to be crucified. But He was pierced through for the transgressions of the people he loved, He was crushed for their iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by The Prince’s scourging we are healed. (Paraphrased from Isaiah 53:5)
Bang…bang…bang. The hammer drove the nails deep into The Prince’s flesh. As The Prince was lifted and hung on the cross, in pain and agony, each new breath brought horrible pain. He looked down and saw the eyes of the people. There was only hate and anger and bitterness. Yet his love for the people never left him. He looked back at them with such a look of love. His heart went out to the people who were sinning. Then he spoke to The King, “Father, forgive them. They don’t realize what they are doing.”
Then the soldier’s eyes met the eyes of The Prince. What kind of a man was this? The soldier had witnessed hundreds of executions but none like this one. Who could endure this kind of death with that kind of love in their eyes?
The criminal had been watching this scene for some time. Having been sentenced to death, he was hanging on his own cross, right next to The Prince. He had been thinking. What a mess he had made of his life! He guessed he shouldn’t have been too surprised that he had ended up in this place. He grimaced ruefully, “There is no denying your sins when you’re forced to confront them like this – dying, tortured on a wooden cross.”
More laughter and shouting: The soldiers had taken The Prince’s clothes and were dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. They rolled the dice to see who would get a souvenir. (Paraphrased from John 19:23)
Drip, drip, drip - there, on the dusty ground, fell the blood of The Prince. When judgment comes, it looks for blood and it was this blood that was most precious. It is the blood that atones in the eyes of The King. In the old way of doing things, there would have been an animal without blemish who would take on the sins of the people and then be sacrificed. The new way was for The Prince – the Son of the King, who had no sin himself – to be sacrificed.
The Prince’s blood was to be used in payment for the sins of all people – even the ones who are still sinners. Because it was the sinless blood of The Prince, it was a permanent atonement. Because of the blood, even though they don’t deserve it, The King sees the people as no longer tainted, impure or sinful. There was a debt to be paid. The Prince was willing to pay that debt because the people couldn’t pay for their own debt.
The criminal cried out in pain. Not only did his body hurt beyond comprehension, but his soul was in agony. Yet he couldn’t stop thinking. He had heard of this man, The Prince. Maybe if he had met him before this – he wouldn’t have ended up here. Yes. There was definitely something different about this man. The thief knew The Prince was innocent. He could feel the love of The Prince coming from the cross – even here, even now. But it was too late for the criminal. His fate was sealed; that was obvious enough.
Those who walked by hurled insults at The Prince, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!" In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself!” (From Mark 15:29-31)
Then came a derisive voice from the third cross that was standing there, “Hey, save yourself and us too, while you’re at it.” Even though everyone could see he was in agony, The Prince’s only response to all of this was the same look of love.
This kept on for several minutes. The criminal couldn’t take it anymore. He mustered as much strength as he could. “Enough!” he told the third man, “We belong here. You know it as much as I do, but this man has done nothing. Can’t you see how he loves all of the people? Even now he loves them – even as we are in the end stages of our suffering.” Then the criminal addressed The Prince, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Then came the same look of unconditional love as The Prince answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Paraphrased from Luke 23:42-43).
And then the criminal knew. His sins were gone and he could rest in peace. His life had been wasted by sin. Yet while shattered and dying, he had found true life and peace. Even as a criminal and a prisoner, he would die a free man.
Then suddenly the world went dark. The sun stopped shining. The Evil One and all of his forces took over. This could only mean one thing: The Holy Spirit had left. Because The Prince had taken on the sins of all people, The King had turned his back on his son. Laughing, The Evil One and his minions went about feeling triumphant and basking in the darkness. They finally had things the way they wanted them.
The Prince knew that once the sin of all people was laid upon him, his task would be completed. The Scripture would be fulfilled. However he felt totally separated from his Father, The King. There is no comfort apart from The King. There can be no physical nourishment, no spiritual anointing.
So The Prince said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to the lips of The Prince. When he had received the drink, he said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and voluntarily gave up his spirit. (Paraphrased from John 19:28-30).
The sin had run its course. The spiritual world and the physical world had forever become entwined. The Prince had given his life willingly for the people he loved so dearly. He had chosen to become the blood sacrifice.
The soldier stood there. He couldn’t believe it. What was happening? “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after the resurrection of The Prince they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When he and the soldiers with him saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Paraphrased from Matthew 27:50-54)
It was then that it hit the soldier: “I am the one who should be up there, not this man! He was the son of The King yet he chose to do this for me. He took my place. Dear God, forgive me! For I am a sinful man.”
Then an even greater revelation hit him – he remembered the look he got from The Prince. It was for love. “I’m forgiven because he loves ME. I’m set free because he chose ME.” The soldier fell to his knees. He was wrecked. His life would never be the same. How could this be?
In the midst of the darkness The Evil One smiled a very wide grin. It was finished all right. Now he could reign completely with no interruptions. The world really was his now. He could not stop giggling at the thought.
Mary’s heart was broken. She couldn’t keep from crying over the death of The Prince. He had done so much for her. Only he had seen the good in her when her life was such a mess. Only he had loved her unconditionally. She had believed she would serve him for a long time as an earthly king. Now he was dead and she was shattered.
The only thing she could do for him now was to give his body a proper burial. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, Mary and the other women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
When they remembered his words, they couldn’t run fast enough to tell the others. In an instant their utter sorrow was turned to unbridled joy. (From Luke 22:1-8)
It all made perfect sense now. The Prince had been telling them all along but they just hadn’t seen it. He had to die so all could live eternally. He had to be the perfect sacrifice.
Far above the earth, The Evil One and his minions circled. Nervously, their eyes darted back and forth throughout the earth. If only they could figure out some way out of this new development. This is not what was supposed to happen.
There was no more rejoicing. Only unbridled fear. They dared not look at each other – or even think of what this meant. They knew though. They knew exactly what had happened. Their plan had backfired – spectacularly. Now they were even worse off than before. Plus The Prince had every power in heaven and on earth and even – they shuddered – under the earth. No, this was NOT how things were supposed to go.
It was time. There was no more for The Prince to do here. He had conquered sin, death, sickness and the devil. He had gained the victory over religion. By doing so he had gained unequivocal authority on earth and in heaven. He had made his followers heirs with him and had passed these rights to them as well. He had shown mankind how to reign in the Kingdom – on earth and in heaven. He proved that nothing could hold him - on earth, under the earth or in heaven. He showed that he is all powerful and that his Kingdom will live forever.
Now that he had completed his task, The Prince had to leave the earth to go to The King and reign beside him until he returned in glory. He had gathered his disciples around him and prepared them for the final time. He had assured them that he would always be with his people through the Holy Spirit.
Everything was in place. Yet, it was so hard to leave. Oh how he loved his people! The fire of love burned even brighter in his heart after he had paid their debt for them. As he looked upon them with great love, The Prince lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was still blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
With their hearts burning with love for their Prince, the children of The King raised their hands and worshiped him. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 25:50-52)
Copyright 2010. Anne Schickowski. All rights reserved. All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners.