The Final Chapter
“Man of sorrows, Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid
Silent as He stood accused
Beaten, mocked, and scorned
Bowing to the Father’s will
He took a crown of thorns
Oh, that rugged cross, my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out, “Hallelujah”
“Praise and honor unto Thee”
Sent of heaven God’s own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree”
Betrayed, tried, convicted, mocked, abandoned… The hero of this journey faces his ultimate choice that will change the world forever – choosing to die.
After the crowd demanded his public humiliation and gruesome execution through the means of crucifixion, Pilate had Jesus scourged hoping to satisfy the crowds with that sentence.
A Roman scourging, or flogging, was not simply a leather whip across the back. Instead, the Romans used a cat o’ nine tails that had bits of metal pieces on multiple leather strips converging into the handle. For 39 times, this menace ripped open Jesus’ back again and again most likely shredding it in the process. This torture would often kill the person being whipped.
But Jesus survives this, and while his back is bleeding and his wounds are open, an entire battalion of Roman soldiers decides to add upon his humiliation. They put a purple cloak on his back (which the open wounds would clot into just to be ripped away), pushed down a crown of thorns onto his head, and handed him a wooden staff to symbolize a scepter. Again and again, they shouted “Hail, King of the Jews,” (which was similar to how they would address Julius Caesar), spit on him, bowed down, and hit him with the staff.
Weak, beaten, bleeding, and exhausted, Jesus’ torture is only beginning.
Given the crossbeam to carry, Jesus starts to walk up towards Golgotha – the place of the skull. He publicly trudges through the city accompanied by shouts of scorn and hatred. Along the way, it is assumed he is no longer able to carry the cross by himself, and a man named Simon of Cyrene (a Jewish North African) is chosen from the crowd to help Jesus.
Once they arrive at the hill, the soldiers offer him a sedative – wine mixed with myrrh, that would help dull the pain. He refuses it.
Then, Jesus is laid on the cross, and nails are driven into his hands and feet, and over his head is written, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” in Greek, Aramaic, and Latin. Lifted up, without his clothes as they had been divided up by the soldiers, he is placed between two other criminals sentenced to die that day.
For hours, as Jesus slowly asphyxiates to death, he is mocked.
Those passing by hurled insults at him yelling, “Ha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross!”
In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.”
Jesus speaks, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
One criminal beside him also decides to use his last breaths taunting Jesus, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
After this, he speaks to Mary, his mother, who was witnessing his death along with other female followers and John.
Jesus says to his mother while seeing her sorrow, “Woman, here is your son,” meaning she can turn to John for care and comfort.
At noon, darkness covers the land until 3:00 in the afternoon.
Jesus becomes the sin offering of the world and is forsaken by his Father in heaven. He cries out in misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Thirsty, he is given wine vinegar from a sponge on a long pole.
Then in a loud voice, he announces, “It is finished.” (This is an accounting term, meaning the debt has been paid in full).
Drawing one more breath he says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
And he dies.
At this moment, three things happen almost simultaneously.
The curtain of the Jewish Temple is torn in two from top to bottom which had separated the holy place from the holy of holies (which only the high priest entered once a year to give a sacrifice for the people). Drenched in symbolism, this miraculous act signified that God’s presence is accessible to everyone through the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, an earthquake shakes things up so powerful that it splits rocks revealing that Jesus’s death was no ordinary event – it is an earthshaking event with repercussions that affect the whole world.
The earthquake caused tombs to burst open exclaiming Christ’s triumph over sin in death. Matthew records that righteous people came to life and entered the city, though other theories ascertain the dead did not awaken until Jesus did three days later.
Observing all these things, the soldiers at the foot of the cross are terrified and their leader, the centurion, shouts, “Surely this was the Son of God!”
To confirm that Jesus is dead, the soldiers strike him in the side and blood and water spill out. They break the other criminals’ legs to quicken their deaths (Check out Psalm 34:20).
Jesus is dead. Many people assume this is the end. This is the final chapter. This is where the story of Jesus ceases to exist.
But keep in mind, there’s an epilogue.
And for now, as we reflect upon the cross, we can sing,
“Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh, is free indeed”
In love and truth,
Copyright © 2021 by Melody Turner
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