Friday, September 28, 2012

John 19:16b-22

Before I begin this morning, I want to thank you for your prayers! My sister, Jodi, and her husband, Ed, who has been my big brother for 50 years, arrived Wednesday to spend two nights with us. Jodi looks fabulous! Her shingles have been very mild and are healing. I’m so thankful to have this time with them both! They will leave this morning to travel to Modesto, where they will visit with Justin’s widow, Stephanie, and their four grandchildren. Please pray for protection of Jodi’s health while she is with these little ones, as her immune system is extremely compromised at this time.

This morning we come to the Crucifixion. We will stay here, at the foot of the cross, for a while, looking at all of the accounts of it, because there are so many aspects to this most important event. As we read about the Crucifixion, let’s try to grasp the full picture, imagine the surrounding crowds, and see ourselves there. In which group would we find ourselves? We’ll start with John’s version:

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS.  Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (John 16b-22)

On his way to Calvary (the Latin name for Golgotha), Jesus carried his own cross, at first. But we know from the other gospels that the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene, who just happened to be passing by, to pick up the cross. The cross would have been extremely heavy, and Jesus’ back had been completely shredded by the scourging.

Jesus was placed on the cross between two thieves, and Pilate placed the sign above Jesus’ head that, while mocking, actually spoke the truth. Jesus had come to His own, and indeed was their King - whether or not they acknowledged it.

Isaiah, in the Old Testament, and Paul, in the New Testament, both tell us that the day is coming when EVERY knee will bow, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD, that He is, indeed the King of Kings (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10). But on the day of His Crucifixion, that sign offended and angered the Jews who were there. They demanded that Pilate change the inscription, but, finally, and too late to matter, Pilate stood his ground! I think he was so miserable over his weakness as a leader and his part in this situation that he was completely done with this mob.

So, in today’s scene we witnessed the scene of this execution. We saw the soldiers, who had mocked and beaten Jesus, lead Him out of the city where they nailed Him to the Cross. There was Simon of Cyrene, the innocent bystander who happened to be in the right place at the right time. In the background, there was Pilate, who, fearing men more than God, ultimately ordered execution of this innocent man and had the sign proclaiming Jesus’ identity to be placed over his head. And finally, there were the Jews, who were infuriated by that sign - the sign which limited their “victory.”

Next time we will watch as Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled, and we will look at one final group who stood near the cross. While we are tempted to blame Pilate or the Jews for this horrible event, let’s never forget that what actually put Jesus on that cross was our own sin! I always need to personalize that! It was MY sin that nailed Him to that cross! Pilate and the Jewish mob were responsible for their part (that was their sin), but MY sin, our sin was what put Him there!  

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