Mark 15:22-24 – They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
What's a crucifixion like? A Jewish writer, Klausner, describes it as being the most cruel and terrible death that has ever been devised for taking vengeance by men against men. Cicero called it the most terrible and most cruel torture. Crucifixion started in a cult religion in Persia. The earth was considered sacred to the god Ormuzd. A criminal was to be lifted off the earth so as not to defile the property — the god's earth. The practice spread from Persia to Carthage in North Africa where the Romans learned about it. This form of punishment was saved for rebels, run-away slaves and the vilest criminals. But it was illegal to crucify a Roman citizen. Klausner further describes the crucifixion process. The criminal, a bleeding mass from the scourging, was fastened to the cross. Nails were driven through the hands or wrists and the feet were bound. There he hung to die from hunger, thirst and exposure. The criminal couldn't even defend himself from the flies and ants which came to eat the flesh and drink the blood. This isn't a pretty picture is it, but it's what Jesus Christ suffered, willingly, for us.
In order to deaden the pain, wealthy women of Jerusalem prepared a cup of wine with a grain of frankincense in it, and offered it to prisoners to help deaden pain. Jesus refused the morphine-like cocktail, instead choosing to experience the deepest, grimmest pain.
The four soldiers now sat at the foot of the cross with Jesus' sandals, girdle, turban, inner garment and outer robe. The man on the cross was left clothed only with a loincloth. There were five pieces of clothing for four soldiers. So they cast lots for the most valuable piece of cloth, the outer robe. Then they waited for the inevitable death.
And so the picture is painted for us. On Golgotha, there are three crosses. In the middle is the Son of God. On either side are criminals. Truly, Jesus was with sinners even unto death. Jewish authorities, criminals and passers-by all throw insults. "Come down from the cross and then we'll believe you." And the fact that he could have come down but wouldn't, is why we should believe him. For the Jews wanted a show of God's power, when in fact they missed the real meaning behind the crucifixion, which is that God is sacrificial love, and Jesus showed this to be true. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13).
Never let go of your faith in God. Even if you might feel you've been beaten to the very depths of despair, keep your faith in God. For that's what Jesus did.
Matthew 27:54 – When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, "Surely he was the son of God."
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you really are the Son of God, and your life paid the price of all our sins. Thank you for your love for us that kept you there on the cross. Help us to grasp the true significance of what the cross meant for you. In your name. Amen.