Victory will often look like failure
Jesus, already in agony, is on his way to Golgotha. The place of the skull. The place known as a place of death because so many have gone before him to be crucified there too. Jesus knew what was awaiting him. He had grown up with it. The people had grown up with it. Crucifixion was a way of life meant to celebrate death for those who had committed crimes against Rome.
Some watched in celebration because Jesus was finally being deposed of. This King of the Jews causing so much unrest was finally going to be finished off for good. But others watched in horror and disbelief. Jesus had just arrived in town a week earlier. He didn't ride in on a stallion, on an image of war but instead he rode in on a donkey, an image of peace. People laid palm branches before him, welcoming him as the King of peace.
But now, he's being violently taken out of the city on charges of treason. He was welcomed as a king and he'll die as a king. Fixed above his head as he's crucified, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” His followers are at a loss of words. You can only imagine the defeat they must have felt. The King and his kingdom that they had experienced the last few years, was dying a violently humiliating death right before their eyes.
In what seems like an eternal pause, the way that Jesus works was on full display. Victory will often look like failure on the surface but it's what's happening behind the scenes–Jesus allowing death to overcome him knowing in three days he was going to walk away more alive than ever–that's what matters.
Crucifixion would no longer be a way of life to celebrate death. The cross would become a new way of life.
A retelling from John 12:12-27, John 19:16-22
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Through Line
Why has this story endured?
What is true for them then that is still true for us today?
How does this story help us love God?
How does this story help us love others?