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Every journey has a beginning. In this Easter meditation we look at the question ‘Where did Jesus’ journey to the cross begin?’

Perhaps, we might answer, it began when the Roman governor Pilate, washed his hands of responsibility, and handed Jesus over to the Jews:

Matthew 27:24, 26 – ‘he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” ... he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.’

But no, the journey to the cross did not begin with Pilate’s weakness.

What about Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane? Is that where the journey began?

Mark 14:34, 36 – ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow ... “Abba, Father ... take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”’

No. The journey started long before this.

Well, we might suggest, perhaps it began when the unbelieving disciple Judas became a tool of Satan?

Luke 22:3, 4, 6 – ‘Then Satan entered Judas ... and Judas went to the chief priest and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus... he watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them ...’

But no, the journey to the cross did not begin with Judas’ betrayal.

Did it begin when the Jewish leaders, fearful that Jesus’ popularity after raising Lazarus from death would incur the wrath of Rome, made a deliberate decision that Jesus must die:

John 11:49, 53 – ‘Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” ... So from that day on they plotted to take his life.’

No, the journey did not begin with Caiaphas’ ruling.

Did it start when Jesus, against all advice and all human wisdom, Jesus set out for Jerusalem with unshakeable determination?

Luke 9:51 – ‘As the time came for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.’

No. Jesus was on his journey to the cross long before this.

Could it have begun with the Jews’ persistent opposition to Jesus and his teaching that had accompanied him throughout the three years of his ministry?

John 5:18 – ‘For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.’

No. The journey to the cross did not begin with the Jews’ opposition.

What about Jesus’ baptism, where he identified himself with us sinners? Or the temptations in the wilderness, when Jesus rejected Satan’s suggested easy ways to secure human allegiance?

No. These were steps along the journey, not its beginning.

Or did it begin in the temple, when the twelve year old Jesus expressed his commitment to God his Father?

Luke 2:49 – ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (About my Father’s business? – KJV)

No. We do not find the beginning of the journey even here. Nor in his birth. Nor in his conception.

The journey to the cross began in eternity, before time began – in a decision made deep in the heart of God. As the New Testament teaches:

Revelation 13:8 – Jesus is ‘the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.’

1Peter 1:20 – ‘He was chosen before the creation of the world.’

2Timothy 1:9 – ‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022