Read the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus and you will be moved. Consider the fact that crucifixion was invented by the Roman Empire to be the most humiliating and painful form of death ever known to man. Execution by crucifixion was intended to deter people from ever following the example of the condemned.
The agony of the cross. The Bible tells us that before He went to the cross Jesus was flogged by the soldiers. They took leather whips, attached pieces of bone, stone, glass and metal, and whipped Jesus repeatedly, tearing His back to shreds. With each lash, His flesh was torn and blood poured out. The soldiers made a crown of thorns and jammed it into His brow. Then they forced Him to carry His cross to the hill called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, the place of His crucifixion. John 19:17-42 tells us the story.
As excruciating as this physical agony was, it was nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual agony that He felt. All but one of His disciples deserted Him in that hour. He carried the spiritual weight of the sins of the world upon His shoulders. He did not deserve to be there. He never sinned. He endured the agony out of His love for us.
The people at the cross. In the apostle John’s account of the crucifixion, we zoom in to see some of the people there at the cross as Jesus died.
Pilate — Roman authority, who ordered the sign that declared the reason for the crucifixion to read: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”
The Roman Soldiers — played games to divide the clothes of Jesus
Jewish Leaders — stirred up the crowd to ridicule and mock Jesus
The Crowd — did not realize that Jesus was dying for their sin
Two Criminals — one was crucified on Jesus’ left and the other on His right
Mary and Several Other Women — supported Jesus and grieved His death
The Apostle John — a disciple that Jesus loved dearly; from the cross, Jesus asked this disciple to care for His mother
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus — followers of Jesus, who would be the ones to take His dead body and prepare it for burial
You and me — although we were not there physically, certainly our sin caused Jesus to go to the cross; in a very real sense we were there
The work of the cross. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” He was declaring that the work of redemption was now complete. On the cross, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God that we deserved for our sin. He was our substitute; He died in our place. On the cross, Jesus became the once-and-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sin. He provided the means of forgiveness and redemption. Jesus made a way for you and me to be saved.
It is by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross and believing in His resurrection from the dead that we are saved. When you realize all that Jesus did for you, you understand that you could never earn your salvation. Like every person who has ever lived, you are guilty of sin before a holy God. Jesus provided the way of salvation. He is the way!
Have you trusted in the finished work of Christ for your salvation? If you have, then praise God! Live a victorious, faith-filled, faithful life for the Lord, pointing other people to faith in Jesus.
If you have not yet trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior, then do that today. Turn away from your sin and trust in Jesus. Ask Him to save you. He will! Then tell someone of your decision to trust in Christ so that you can become the person that God created you to be.
The crucifixion of Jesus was both horrible and wonderful. It was horrible because Jesus died an agonizing death. It was wonderful because His death provided the way for us to be saved.