“On Your Mark”
The Cross (Chapter 15 Verses 21-32)
The frightful and awful abuse is the reason for his breakdown and the necessity of Simon having to bear Jesus’ cross (v21), little wonder. But in literally bearing his own cross thus far we are given a very poignant illustration of what he has taught us about bearing our own (Matthew 10.38; 16.24). The place they brought him to is called Golgotha (v22), the place of execution. No, not a pretty place, hardly a green hill far away, that sounds far too pretty. More like Israel’s rubbish dump, where the City dwellers would bring their refuse for disposal. And around this hill-top God crucified his own Son (v24). The idea of offering the victim this concoction of wine and myrrh (v23) is not to alleviate the suffering of the executed but rather to so dope him in order to make the person more manageable. In other words to make their job easier.
Pilate takes his revenge on the Jews (vv25-26), they want Jesus on a Cross. Okay, they can have him on a cross, but only as a king, that was their charge. So the inscription reads “the King of the Jews”. The words are a vindication, Jesus indeed was, is, the King of the Jews, and all the protests of the Jews just fall on deaf ears as far as Pilate is concerned (John 19.19-22). As in his birth, his life and his baptism, and so now in his death he is identified with transgressors (v27), in order to intercede on our behalf (Isaiah 53.12), to reconcile us to, and make peace with God (Romans 5.10-11; 11.15; 2Corinthians 5.18-20; Ephesians 2.14- 17; Colossians 1.19-22). “He saved others” (v31), yes, he did, from the wrath and enmity of almighty God, by the blood of his cross. Pilate wrote his sign over Jesus’ cross because he knew Jesus was innocent. In fact he was utterly sinless (1John 3.5), he was on that cross as a substitute for our sins (Galatians 3.13). Here before you in these verses is the cost of your salvation, in Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice. God’s hot and holy wrath is plunged into the blood of Calvary and quenched, and it is here we see clearest of all the mercy, the love of God (1John 4.8-10). It is here we see the height, the length, the breadth and depth of that love of God (Ephesians 3.17b-18; John 3.16). But that reconciliation has to be received, not by working for it, not by earning it in any sense whatsoever, it is simply by grace through faith. If with a sense of your sin you see what Jesus on this cross means, there is only one thing for you to do, abandon yourself to that sin-bearing love, unreservedly and unconditionally – and forever.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)