Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 16:21 – From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (NKJV)
We know that Jesus, though God, had to be born human so that He could give His perfect life as the payment for our sins, but I really wonder why Jesus had to die such a horrific death. There were many ways that people died in those days. Why couldn't Jesus have died a more private death, perhaps be murdered quickly by the same sword that cut off the centurion's ear, be stoned to death, or die from a communicable disease like leprosy? Surely, God could have accomplished the same end and also spared His Son immeasurable suffering by having Jesus die a more humane and less public death.
No, Jesus was terribly and publicly humiliated. He was scourged (up to 40 lashes), struck, spat on, jeered, and mocked with shouts of "Crucify Him!" at an unjust trial. Then He was made to carry His own cross (which weighed between 100 and 300 pounds) until Simon was found to assist, and was marched through the busy streets of Jerusalem, where short days before, He had been heralded with loud hosannas.
Can you imagine having nails pierce your hands and feet? The knowledge of the excruciating pain that He would have to bear had Jesus sweating blood and asking His Father if it were possible for Him to find another way.
Luke 22:44 – And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (NKJV)
Crucifixion was reserved for the most heinous of criminals. The horrific public display of agony was used to dissuade the witnesses from perpetrating similar crimes. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow and excruciatingly painful. Ultimately, the one crucified died either from exhaustion or asphyxiation.
Maybe we or our loved ones are going through terrible physical pain. We cry out, "Why God? They are good people." I think that Jesus had to endure the worst possible pain and suffering to assure us mortals that no matter what we may go through, Jesus can relate. He responds, "I have also endured My back being torn apart by a leaded whip, nails being driven through My body, and a spear piercing My side."
When we feel abandoned, Jesus whispers, "I understand; My disciples betrayed, abandoned, and denied Me, but I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5b NKJV)
Isaiah 53:3a – He is despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (NKJV)
Perhaps we have been unjustly humiliated. Jesus replies, "I did nothing wrong, but I was chosen to be crucified in place of the hardened criminal Barabbas. I know what it is like to be mocked and jeered at."
Revelation 21:4 – And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (NKJV)
Prayer: Dear Lord, no matter what we may face, help us to know that in Your humanness, You have also faced these circumstances. You know our pain. In Your godliness, comfort us with the promise of everlasting life, where there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.