Loving Father, I bow in reverence before the Cross. Love so amazing demands my all.
Read John 19:16-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“There is no greater suffering or any greater innocence than the suffering and innocence of Christ. Yet God was in it all. The very suffering that we caused became the hope of our salvation” (John Piper).
Jesus’ execution took place on a crowded, noisy hilltop alongside other convicted criminals, surrounded by soldiers, a jeering crowd and a few disciples witnessing his end. The soldiers were practiced at this gruesome ritual, but because this was Passover season in Judea they were especially alert to trouble. Nothing could be left to chance. Yet, John’s account is full of surprises.
Surprise one was the indictment Pilate had nailed to the cross: a simple assertion of his kingship–which the Jewish leaders had alleged, but Jesus had never claimed (19-22). Talk about throwing gasoline on a bonfire! No wonder the Jews objected. Was Pilate being cynical, or getting even with the locals, or revealing what he really thought? Whatever his reason, he proclaimed the message loud and clear in all the significant languages of the time, so the Nazarene’s claim would embrace the world. Surprise two came when the soldiers took their customary dues by dividing up their victim’s possessions among them (23,24). They found Jesus’ garment seamless and decided to cast lots to determine who would get it. They didn’t realize they were acting out the ancient words of Psalm 22:18, the psalm about unjust suffering that Jesus had made his own when he quoted its opening words from the cross (Mark 15:34).
Surprise three is that the disciples who witnessed his execution were mainly women, as all the Gospels stress (25). They showed more courage than the men and remained faithful to the end. That was true discipleship. Surprise four was that in his dying moments Jesus cared for others, committing his mother to his beloved disciple (25-27). He might have been understandably preoccupied, but it was Jesus on the cross, the One who in life and, now, death oozed compassion.
Place yourself at the scene and let your eye roam around. What surprises you? What have you missed previously?
Lord Jesus, Your cross was once for all, but You call me to take up my cross daily. Today, may that regulate my actions.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.