Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders,mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Humility in Dying
The cross was an extremely well known and feared execution tactic in the Roman Empire. It was more than being put to death, it was torture of the worst kind. Executioners would tie a cross beam to the back of the condemned and make them carry it to the place of execution. Once arrived, as with Jesus, they would often nail them to the beam, attach it to a riser, and hoist them into the air. Shockwaves of pain would shoot through the body as their nerves bore their weight on the nails. It was a slow agonizing death that ended in eventual suffocation.
Jesus endured this in His dying, but there was more. He was mocked, scorned, ridiculed, and taunted every step of the way. They posted a sign above His head that read “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37, ESV). A crown of thorns was placed on His head that dug into His skull, and they mockingly bowed to Him as king. Some watched and jeered Him, telling Him to save Himself if He was really the Son of God. Jesus bore it all; the beating, the torture, the utter hate, and He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV).
I can sometimes sacrifice a little of myself for somebody I love without saying a word. Maybe I can give up some rest in order to help a friend out or pass up something I want in order to buy something for my wife or kids. However, if I sacrifice something only to be mocked by the very person I am doing it for, staying quiet and humble gets exponentially more difficult. My ability to “look not only to [my] own interests, but also to the interests of others” decreases significantly (Philippian 2:4, ESV). It’s possible that my motivations are often more about getting high on my own self righteousness than truly loving somebody else.
Paul writes in Romans 5:7-8, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ESV). Jesus suffered so much pain in the face of hate. He certainly could have shown those who sought to humiliate Him the truth of His identity with some awesome display of power, but He didn’t. That Jesus died for His enemies with such a quiet humility is truly astonishing.
The humility of Jesus in dying on the cross is the ultimate love. Jesus didn’t die for those who proved they loved Him enough. Jesus gave His life to prove His great love for those who mocked, ridiculed, and scorned Him. 1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (ESV). The good news on this Good Friday is that He really is the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world, and that He died for you and me because He loves us with an ultimate love.
Prayerfully consider these few questions:
- What if somebody, who was considered high risk for dying from COVID-19, mocked you for sacrificing your social life and financial loss in an effort to not spread the virus? Would you keep quiet?
- How does your own sin mock the sacrifice of Jesus in a similar way?
- Jesus loves you and humbly died to forgive your sin. How does His love free you to love others?