3/26/16 Jesus Is Crucified

Jesus and two other criminals condemned to be crucified are led to a place where three crude, heavy, wooden crosses are waiting.  Each is given a cross to carry to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, where they are to be crucified.  Because of the fierce beating He has just sustained, Jesus is very weak and in much pain.  He finds it very difficult to carry the heavy cross and stumbles often on the road leading up to that terrible hill.  A man from Cyrene named Simon stands by the side of the road, watching as Jesus stumbles again on the road.  A Roman soldier shouts to him, “Hey, you, come here and carry this Man’s cross.”  When a Roman soldier gives an order, there is no choice but to obey, so Simon comes and hefts the cross over his shoulder, trying to avoid getting splinters stuck into his skin in the process.  Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, watch with wide eyes, terrified of what might happen to their father.  The procession continues slowly, and is followed by a huge crowd of onlookers.  Those in the front of the crowd include a number of women who have been followers of Jesus and are overcome with grief at what is happening to their Messiah.  Jesus gathers what strength He has left, turns to them, and speaks to them.  “My dear women of Jerusalem, don’t cry for Me.  Look out for yourselves and your children, because a time of great trouble is coming to Jerusalem and if you remain here you will wish you had never given birth to them.  For if Pilate can stand by and allow this to happen now, wait until a more wicked successor is in his place!  When that time comes, people will beg for death.”  Now they reach the base of the hill and begin to climb it.  At the top, the soldiers begin to nail Jesus and the other criminals onto their crosses.  One of the soldiers tries to give Jesus some wine mixed with myrrh as a kind of drug to lessen the pain, but after a single taste, He pushes it away.  The crosses are erected at the top of the hill, Jesus in the middle and the two criminals on either side of Him.  Pilate had made a sign for Jesus’ cross that was nailed to it over His head.  It read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  One of the priests, objecting to the reference, tried to get Pilate to change it to, “He called Himself the King of the Jews,” but Pilate refused.  The crucified men were stripped bare except for loincloths.  Jesus’ clothes, especially His robe, which was woven as one solid piece, were of interest to the soldiers, because they thought they might be able to get some money for them from His followers.  They gambled with dice to see who would win the robe, and divided the rest of His clothing among them, fulfilling the prophecy that said, “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing cast lots.”  The crowd standing near the crosses jeer at Jesus, saying, “You bragged You could destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days!  You can’t even save Yourself!  Son of God, indeed!”  One of the criminals crucified next to Him even ridicules Him in this way, but the other silences him by saying, “You are about to die!  Why are you mocking the Son of God?  We are real criminals, we deserve what is happening to us, but He is completely innocent!  Lord, Son of God, will You remember Me when You take over Your Kingdom?”  Jesus replies to him, “I tell you the truth:  today, you will be with Me in Heaven.”  Jesus looks over and sees John standing with His mother Mary, His Aunt Mary who is Clopas’ wife, and Mary Magdalene.  He looks at them lovingly and says, “Mother, John is now your son, and John, My mother is now your mother.”  John puts his arm around Mary protectively and vows to take care of her as his own mother from this point on.

 

Matthew 27:32-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:26-43, John 19:17-27, Psalm 22:18

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