CRUCIFIXION IS BARBARIC
Gracious Father, you love me unconditionally and your heart overflows with forgiveness. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Read MATTHEW 27:27–44
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
As God’s Word takes us into the cruelty and evil of human structures, rely on God to empower us to stand against them.
Nothing humane exists in crucifixion. The flogging of Jesus would have left him bleeding, lashed, and barely able to function. The soldiers epitomize the worst in human nature in their awful degrading humiliation and scorn. Nothing resembling respect or compassion was offered to Jesus, but instead mockery, violence, ugliness, and hatred. Even forcing Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross was no concession. Jesus was so weak he could not have otherwise made it to execution. Yet carrying Christ’s cross may have been a life-changing experience for Simon, for Mark names his sons, suggesting they were known as Christian followers.1
We are horribly familiar with the details of the crucifixion – the impaling of Jesus’ body on the cross, the nails driven through his hands, his refusal of the drugged wine to deaden the pain, the stripping of his clothes, and the soldiers casting lots. Since Jesus was crucified alongside two criminals, the caption signifying him as ‘King of the Jews’ (see v 37) spoke only of irony to passers-by.
Even now, the religious leaders could not leave him to die quietly. They joined in the mockery with the crowd and convicts. Unbelief is rampant in any age, ours included. People in our society are just as ready to ridicule faith in Christ. His powerlessness on the cross signifies defeat; cynicism proclaims the emptiness of Christian hope, as people still echo the sneering of that Good Friday crowd. Yet, unbelief always misses the point. It was Christ’s persistence in staying on the cross that saw his mission through. It’s his victory as Son of God that has drawn millions to him throughout the ages. It’s his death that brings life to us today.
We are challenged today to witness to Christ in an age of growing unbelief. Pray now for greater wisdom in knowing how.
I thank you Lord, with repentant heart, that Jesus, without spot or blemish, accepted sin’s sting and bore it for my sake.
1 Mark 15:21
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