With Easter drawing near, my heart turns to the cross. Will you join me for a journey?Let’s imagine for the next few minutes we have followed the crowds outside of Jerusalem, to the place of Jesus’ execution. We find ourselves at Golgotha (the Place of a Skull, also known as Calvary), watching and listening, as the soldiers nail Jesus to the cross.
It’s early in the day.
What do we see?
Jesus hanging on a cross before us, suffering excruciating pain.
What do we hear?
A noisy, unruly crowd all around us. The pounding of nails. The mocking of skeptics. The weeping of loved ones.
But let’s lean in a bit closer.
Let’s listen for Jesus’ words.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
We don’t hear angry, hate-filled words. No appeal for a rescue. Jesus’ first words from the cross is a prayer. Words of forgiveness. We aren’t sure for whom He is praying. The Roman soldiers, Pilate and Herod? The vindictive mob crying, “crucify Him?” Those who betrayed Him? Yes, for all of these. But His Words are also for you and me. He spoke of this moment as He walked among us.
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
Looking to the left and to the right of Jesus, we see Him hanging between two thieves. Both hurl insults at Jesus (Matthew 27:44), but, soon thereafter, one of them rebukes the other. Something shifts deep within Him right before our very eyes. He sees his sin. He repents. Jesus extends grace. What does this mean? With Jesus, it’s never too late.
“‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold. your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:26-27
From the cross, we see Jesus’ eyes search to and fro for his mother. When he finds her, he calls to her and tenderly provides for her. He entrusts her to His beloved friend John. We stand amazed. Even in His suffering, Jesus cares about her needs!
The early part of the day has passed. It’s now noon. The earth goes dark. Blackness consumes the day.
“‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46
Jesus suffers His deepest, darkest hours. Our sin, mine and yours, overcomes His body, crushing Him (Isaiah 53:10, 2 Cor. 5:21). But, Jesus doesn’t climb down off the cross. He doesn’t beg for mercy. He remains. We look at each other, tears in our eyes. Where is God? Why has God allowed this? How could He watch this from His throne in Heaven. Jesus cries out to His Father. He feels it too. Yet He still remains. Though He cannot see His Father’s face, Jesus must know He is there. Jesus must trust He is listening.
“I am thirsty.” John 19:28
We look at each other? We heard him say many times He is both human and divine. We know God doesn’t get thirsty, yet Jesus is thirsty. More proof. He is indeed who He said He is. And haven’t we heard these words somewhere before? Yes! Remember Psalm 69:3, “My soul is parched” and Psalm 29:21, “They gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Jesus knew these Scriptures. He now fulfills them before our eyes.
“It is finished.” John 19:30
We look at each other. Jesus moan or mumble these words. He speaks them clearly, precisely, intentionally. What is finished? He declares them like it’s a declaration of triumph and victory. We both realize something. All the prophecies we heard Him speak over these past years are being fulfilled, in this moment, before our very eyes. The hard fought battle begun in the Garden of Eden now won by the Son of God (Gen. 3:15). Hallelujah!
“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46
We stand in awe. The weight of what we have witnessed falls hard and full. Jesus has done it. Fulfilled every word of Scripture. Kept His every promise. He willingly allowed Himself to fall into the hands of His own created ones … to be mocked, tortured, persecuted, and ultimately executed like the worst of criminals … for us! Every step of the way trusting in the love of His Father. Knowing and trusting nothing and no one could snatch Him away.
I hope you have enjoyed our time together at the foot of the cross. Thank you for joining me. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please take a moment and share what God spoke to your heart.
May each of you have a blessed and joyous Easter.