Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)
The events surrounding Jesus’ death were largely routine motions of Roman jurisdiction. The trials, the beatings, the humiliating procession, and the painful crucifixion were all a part of business as usual for soldiers involved in executing criminals. What wasn’t routine, though, was the darkness that descended over the whole event in the middle of the day (Matthew 27:45), as though God had closed His eyes on the sorrowful scene. This was both a routine execution and the greatest turning point in all eternity.
What made it so important was the identity of the man hanging on the middle cross: none other than God incarnate. Our minds should never cease to be amazed by this:
Well might the sun in darkness hide,Isaac Watts, “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?” (1707).
And shut its glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.
Scripture does not place much emphasis on Christ’s physical sufferings on the cross. He surely did suffer grievous physical pain, but “the sufferings of his body were nothing to the sufferings of his soul; these were the soul of his sufferings.” Jesus fully experienced all of the pain and agony of being separated relationally from God the Father—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Whatever you face in your life, know that Jesus has gone through worse and therefore understands how you feel. Not only that, but the unimaginable anguish He endured was for you. Only when the time was right did Christ triumphantly proclaim, “It is finished”—tetelestai: the debt is satisfied and done with.
Christ’s crucifixion is often portrayed with the cross erected high above the onlooking crowd. In reality, though, once the cross was lowered into its setting, His feet were likely very close to the ground. In the same way, Christ’s life, death, and resurrection do not stand high above our lives but intimately close to them. No, Jesus’ death was no ordinary death, but rather a death that promises to give, through faith, true life. Everything changes when we consider all that took place on that cross and say to ourselves:
Wounded for me, wounded for me,W.G. Ovens, “Wounded for Me” (1931).
There on the cross He was wounded for me;
Gone my transgression, and now I am free,
All because Jesus was wounded for me.
Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life: 365 Daily Devotions by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.