Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com

It was the unlikeliest of endeavors, really, and from a human perspective, one that was 4000 years in the making. Standing there in the Garden of Eden, God in Genesis 3:15 gave the protoevangelium, the first gospel, the promise that the Messiah would come and fix what man had broken by their sin. And since a tree was the center of the issue, it would be on a tree that the issue would be settled; God made that very clear in Deuteronomy 21:23, which Paul referenced as such in Galatians 3:13.

So very early on, God determined to make His way to a tree to pay for our sins. Naturally, then, the devil stepped up to oppose that plan at every turn, especially since God had promised in Genesis 3:15 to bruise, utterly crush, his head on that tree.

The Old Testament is filled with attempts to corrupt and even eradicate the bloodline to keep Christ from making it to the tree, the cross. Several times, the devil got so very close, even getting within one person of derailing that plan.

When God finally came to earth and became flesh through a virgin conception, the opposition really ramped up. In Matthew 2, the world of Christ and the world of the Herods would collide for the first time. Herod the Great, that bloodthirsty tyrant who for thirty-seven years wreaked havoc on Judaea, tried to murder Jesus as a babe; the devil was intent on not letting him make it to the cross. But when the Wise Men left without giving Herod the address, he simply butchered every baby in the area, trying to get Jesus. Mary and Joseph and Jesus, though, had been warned, and fled away in time. They spent the next year or two in Egypt, then came home when that Herod was dead.

Fast forward thirty years. Jesus is now a man and has begun his public ministry. And, in a true ministerial baptism by fire, one of the very first things that happens is a forty-day fast combined with a confrontation with the devil himself, alone in the wilderness. Mark and Luke’s gospels tell us that the devil tempted him every single one of those forty days. And then Matthew and Luke record the intense and focused three-part temptation on the very last day. Weak and tired from the constant temptation and from forty days with no food, the devil pulled out all the stops to get Jesus to do something, anything, to disqualify himself from being our perfect sacrifice. But once again, Jesus won, and the devil’s plan was beaten back.

In Luke 4, Jesus came back to His boyhood home, Nazareth, for a bit. As he was wont to do, he went into the synagogue, took a portion of the Scripture, and read it aloud. Then, he pointed out that those Old Testament Scriptures applied to him. Enraged at this claim, the entire crowd dragged him out of the synagogue and over to a cliff called Mount Precipice, a 1296-foot drop, intending to throw him over and to his death. The devil was no doubt hastening and cheering them on; this would stop the plan of God in its tracks in the most dramatic of fashion. And what could anyone do to stop it? How does one keep an entire mob from throwing them over a cliff? Here is the riveting, dramatic answer from verse thirty: “But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”

That’s it. He simply walked through them all like they were not even there.

In John 10, about four months from his appointment with a cross, Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem. Once again, the religious authorities did not like what he had to say. Verse twenty-four tells us they surrounded him, and once again, they tried to kill him, this time by stoning. And yet, verse thirty-nine says, “but he escaped out of their hand.”

With about three months left before Calvary, Jesus was just a bit to the east on the other side of the Jordan River. Coming full circle, his life is threatened again by yet another Herod, Herod Antipas, the son of the Herod who tried to kill him three decades earlier. Herod sent word through the Pharisees that he intended to kill Jesus. And yet Jesus derisively referred to Herod in terms of vermin, and spent three more days in his territory ministering. The family of the Herods has terrorized everyone for nearly 100 years, and yet Christ simply brushed aside this death threat and continued his inexorable march to the cross.

Fast forward to the night of his betrayal and arrest. Jesus is dragged before Pontius Pilate for a sham trial with a pre-determined outcome. For his part, Pilate wanted nothing to do with any of it. But bowing to the pressure, Pilate decided to at least scourge this man whom he knew to be innocent. And that provided a very serious risk; the scourging process was so brutal that many men did not survive it. Christ was just a few hours from Calvary, and Satan’s men tried their best to beat Jesus to death before he could make it there.

He survived. Then, showing both his amazing masculinity and his divine drive, he carried the cross to Calvary, getting just a bit of an assist from Simon of Cyrene along the way. Jesus waded through hell time after time to die for us on that cross.

But not just any cross – our cross. We were the ones who should have suffered and died, but Christ took all of that for us. And neither mobs nor tyrants nor soldiers nor the devil himself could stop him.

Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.

Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner