So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’. Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews’, but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews’. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be’. this was to fulfill the scripture. “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”. So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘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. After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst’. A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:17-30)
Good Friday always brings me to an emotional stop. I am overwhelmed by the love that was demonstrated by His death on the cross for me. I am overwhelmed by the forgiveness that He expressed as his broken and bruised body hung on that cross . “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” I am overwhelmed by the despair that the human Jesus felt., , “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” I am overwhelmed by the enormity of redemption that His death on the cross meant and expressed in three words . . . “It is finished.” I am overwhelmed by his total trust and confidence in His Father . . . “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”
For all of this and more, I am humbled beyond belief that I, a sinner, am so loved and so forgiven.
As we gaze on his wounds – we touch the scars of his resurrection. I can’t seem to get enough of looking at the cross. Time stands still as I look at the cross. On this day, the weight of the cross around my neck seems to pull my head down to examine my heart to ask “am I worthy?” And I am reminded that his death was to prove me worthy. I know that the cross has been indelibly imprinted on my consciousness. It is a part of me and it speaks of who I am.
As I gaze on his wounds – I touch the scars of his resurrection and our resurrection. In the cross of Christ, we see the triumph of Jesus over his enemies – sin, Satan, and death. Many Christians down through the centuries have sung the praises of the Cross of Christ. Paul the Apostle exclaimed, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14)
As I gave upon the wood of the cross, I am vividly reminded that there is a very real connection between the cross of Christ and my own struggles, my own sufferings, my own disappointments, my own pain. I realize that in order to make any sense of the world around us, we need to remember that we each have to travel by way of Calvary. Calvary sets in consoling relief the experience of all who suffer: whether the nightmare of physical pain or the emotional trauma of significant loss or the prospect of imminent death.
As I think of that body, nailed to a rough wooden cross, I am awed that that this Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve. His entire life was spent in the service of others. And it ends in one final act of self-surrender to His Father, on our behalf.
I feel a tear run down my cheek as I reflect that it was through his suffering that I and those around me are saved and redeemed. I will ultimately know the joy of being with God, our Father, because of the suffering of Jesus Christ. That rough, wooden cross becomes a gilded chariot to bring us home.
I catch a breath when I focus on the human Jesus who entered into the totality of the human struggle of pain and loss so that our frail human bodies will carry the saving power of God.
Christ has died but Christ is risen and Christ will come again..
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death.”
The cross of Christ is the throne of love. It is also the sign of God’s mercy and the proof of forgiveness. By his cross Jesus Christ has pardoned us and set us free from the tyranny of sin. He paid the price for us when he made atonement for our sins. The way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God and the way to victory over sin and corruption, fear and defeat, despair and death is through the cross of Jesus Christ.