Mark 15:16-39; Luke 22:63-71 and 23:1-43; John 19:1-37
Jesus didn't just carry the cross along a dusty road before being nailed to it to wipe away our sins. He did so much more. In 'He Chose The Nails', Max Lucado points out some amazing symbols surrounding the cross. Let's just have a look at some of the things He endured before He breathed His last.
Having people make fun of you, call you names or even spit on you is something none of us like to go through. Some of us go through those things more often than others. No one deserves it. Jesus certainly didn't. Having lead a completely sinless life, He was betrayed. The soldiers spat at Him and made fun of Him. You can look through every version of the Bible for the verse that says 'Jesus wiped off the spit' but you know what? You won't find one. Within His blood and sweat, He carried the spit of those soldiers, a symbol of our sin, to His death.
Before He was made to carry the cross, Jesus was beaten within an inch of His life. The soldiers whipped Him. The whips, which often had nails in the end, tore into His skin leaving deep wounds. Why did endure this? There are hundreds of theories to what this symbolised. I like to think that Jesus' endured having His flesh torn in order for the curtain of the temple to follow suit. As His body was torn, so was the temple curtain, which separated the 'Holy people' from the 'Unholy people' - giving everyone a ticket to heaven.
A crown of thorns was thrust on to His head. Each thorn pierced the skin. Again, this is not just pain that Jesus went through. Each of those thorns represents something. On the point of one thorn was all our deceit. On another was all our anger. Our betrayal, our dishonesty, our discouragement, our bitterness, our hatred. All the things mankind had ever done were represented in those sharp, jagged, skin piercing thorns. He gave up the crown of heaven, for this crown of thorns.
What about those two thieves who were crucified with Jesus? Are they significant? Do they have any bearing on this act of 'love'? One denies Jesus and joins with those who mock Him. The other? He chooses to accept Him. We may never know what it was that made this man accept Christ. We may never know what made him utter those words 'Jesus remember me in your kingdom'. We may never know why the other man chose not to. But something that I do know from the gift of the cross, is that Jesus' life was taken away because of what those two men represent...
You can accept Him or reject Him. There is no inbetween.
Birches Head Christian Fellowship
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