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From the Garden to the Desert … and on to the Cross - Part 5

By: Arnie Cole & Michael Ross

The Way of the Cross

The hour had come. The Lamb of God was about to be slain before the eyes of the world, but first the Roman soldiers decided to have some gruesome “fun” with Him.[1]

Jesus was flogged by a whip with multiple leather strips, each armed at the point with an angular bony hook, or a sharp sided cube. And after His captors had woven a crown from a thornbush, each thorn about an inch long and as sharp as sewing needles, a soldier thrust it onto Christ’s head. Another man wrapped a purple robe around His body, which by now looked like one big, open wound. The crowd then made fun of Jesus saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

As a final insult, they began to spit on Him and beat Him. The soldiers even played a little game with our Lord, demanding that He prophesy who would hit Him next as they punched Him in the face again and again and again. Once Jesus was lead to Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull), [2] those who gathered around the cross witnessed hate at its worst and love at its best. People so hated that they put Christ to death; God so loved that He gave people life. [3]

Iron spikes were driven completely through each of Christ’s hands and feet. He was stripped naked and raised high into the air for everyone to see and mock as He hung for hours in the intense Middle Eastern sun. Jesus eventually became so exhausted that no matter how hard He tried, He was not able to hold His body up by His pierced feet. He began to hang from His torn hands, His weight gradually pulling His arms and shoulders from their sockets.

He struggled to keep shifting the strain back to His feet, but exhaustion eventually overtook Him until, finally, He hung completely by His arms. And it was at this moment that His body began to slowly cave in on itself until He couldn’t get enough air into His lungs. And there, in the blistering heat—His body already swollen and bleeding from the floggings and beatings in the face, spikes driven through His hands and feet, bones popping out of His sockets—Jesus ever so slowly suffocated to death. Words prophesied hundreds of years earlier came to pass: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”[4]

Yet onlookers witnessed even more than the fulfillment of prophecy during those hours. Nature itself began to cry out and writhe at what humanity was doing to its Creator. Here’s how The Message paints the scene:

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some bystanders who heard him said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, “Don’t be in such a hurry. Let’s see if Elijah comes and saves him.”

But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, “This has to be the Son of God!”[5]

The captain was right. And the barrier between the created and the Creator was destroyed—ripped from top to bottom. Jesus’ payment on the cross now made it possible for anybody to be pure enough to stand in God’s presence. God had paid for the world’s disobedience. The sacrifice, the substitution for our punishment, was complete. We were freed from the deadly menace that taunted Adam and Eve and every human since. Satan had lost. The war with sin was over!

Now it was simply up to each man, woman, and child to step forward and claim the victory that had already been won. Now it is time to fight back.

Jesus once said, “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.”[6]

[1] See Matthew 27:27, The Message.

[2] See Matthew 27:33.

[3] Dr. Henrietta C. Mears, What the Bible Is All About, (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, © 1998), 435.

[4] Isaiah 53:5-6

[5] Matthew 27:45-54, The Message

[6] Jesus, Luke 11:23, The Message.

From Tempted, Tested, True

© Back to the Bible.

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