The Crucifixion Of Jesus
The shadow of the cross that was raised on Golgotha reaches across the centuries to offer comfort, forgiveness, and hope to us today. The story is almost unbelievable, for it is hard for us to image such love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" is the message of the golden text of the Bible, John Chapter 3, verse 16. Jesus had to love us beyond measure to give Himself willingly to die for our sins. And we must complete the story of love by loving Him in return.
Some of the Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He condemned their sins. They did not want to believe the truth He preached, as He urged them to repent and turn back to God. They became jealous of the great crowds that followed Him and believed in Him, and finally decided to get rid of Him by having Him killed.
Since the Jews did not have the right to have a man killed without the approval of the Roman governor, they had to take Jesus to Pilate. At the trial they had no evidence of wrong-doing by Jesus, but put enough pressure on Pilate that he finally agreed to have the soldiers kill Jesus by crucifying Him.
The place where they killed prisoners was outside the city of Jerusalem on a small hill called Golgotha or the place of the skull. Here they laid the cross on the ground while they nailed his hands and feet to it with great spikes. The cross was then lifted and dropped into a hole in the ground. The entire weight of the body tore at the spikes, and the pain was almost beyond endurance. The blood began to pound through the body as the shock of what was happening began to take its toll. As the cells of the body were broken down it became a living death that sometimes lasted for a few hours, and could even last for a few days. Since Jesus had been whipped before they took Him to be crucified, He was already weak from loss of blood. Mercifully, He lived only a few hours on the cross.
Even with all the pain, Jesus thought of others rather than Himself. His first words from the cross were, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Even though He could have threatened to punish them eternally when they faced Him in judgement, he did not do so. He thought of His mother, who stood by the cross weeping, and asked his beloved friend John to take care of her. On either side of Him there were two thieves crucified with Him. When one of them expressed faith in Jesus, the Saviour answered, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise". As the terrible afternoon wore on and His pain increased he finally moaned, "I thirst", and was offered vinegar, which He would not drink. God blotted out the sun as if to let us know how black the deed which was being done, and out of that blackness Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?". His final words expressed his complete surrender to the will of God as He said, "It is finished; Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit". He then bowed His head and died.
Even the earth could not accept the death of its Creator and Master without showing grief. There was a great earthquake which shook the countryside and made all people afraid. The only fear which we need to have, however, is that of refusing the love He showed in dying for us. The theme of our lives ought to be, "I'll live for Him who died for me, how happy then my soul shall be. I'll live for Him who died for me, my Saviour and my God".
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