On Monday I posted my thoughts on why and how worship leaders should regularly and consistently point people to Jesus Christ in such a way that helps remind us that he’s beautiful. One of the ways to do that is to point to his suffering. When we look at the cross, we see a Savior who endured the worst kind of suffering imaginable, beckoning us to run to him in our suffering, and reminding us that one day he will end suffering without ending us.
We behold the beauty of Jesus in his suffering. And we behold his beauty in his sacrifice.
If you’re anything like me, one of the parts of the story of Jesus’ death that has always particularly unsettled me is the part about Barabbas. A convicted murderer, on death row, due to be crucified on Good Friday, Pilate concedes to the demands of the crowd and lets Barabbas go, so that he can crucify Jesus instead.
Barabbas deserved to die. He was guilty. Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He was innocent.
And that’s the point.
On the cross, the guilty go free. The Innocent is crucified.
Worship leaders have a responsibility to remind people of the sacrifice of Jesus. The substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus in our place.
And the sacrifice of Jesus was not only substitutionary. It was final.
In Mark 15:37, Jesus breathes his last breath. In the very next verse (15:38), our attention is immediately drawn to the ripping of the temple’s curtain (“from top to bottom”). No man could rip this massively thick curtain. Especially not starting at the top. This is a monumentally powerful display of the immediate institution of the new covenant – instantly – and with finality. It was done.
God in Christ did what no man could do for themselves. Now, because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…” (Hebrews 10:19-20).
When worship leaders allow services, and weeks, and even months to go by without drawing their congregations back to behold the beauty of Jesus in his sacrifice, we allow a certain level of arrogance to develop in our worship that we are able to approach God on our own. We’re not. It’s only because of Jesus’ sacrifice – his final, in-our-place, once-and-for-all sacrifice – that we can draw near with confidence.
Jesus is worthy of our praise. Never forget it, worship leader. And never let your congregation forget it either.