Crucifixion; April 10, 2020

Luke 23:33-34 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The act of crucifixion is so horrible that Luke could do no more than use the bare words, “they crucified him.” Mel Gibson did us a great favor by directing and producing the movie, The Passion. The raw brutality, the reality of what was done to Jesus is hard for us even to imagine. We can quibble over the exact location of the nails in His hands, since a nail in the center of the palm would rip out with the body weight of the person crucified, and archaeologists have found bones that had had a nail run through the ball of the heel from the side, rather than simply with the feet crossed, but such details don’t change the fundamental facts. Jesus was nailed to that cross for us, not for His own sins but for ours. As a matter of fact, in the movie, Mel Gibson himself is the one holding the spike as it is hammered in. Luke doesn’t make clear the timing of Jesus’ statement recorded here, whether it was as the nails were being hammered, as he lay there nailed to the cross, or after the cross was raised and His weight was supported by the nails driven through His flesh, but that again is immaterial. The point is that He said it, asking that we be forgiven for our sins that brought crucifixion upon Him. And the point about the soldiers rolling dice to decide who got His clothing drives home the point that for the soldiers this was just a job, and the clothing of the executed was part of their pay for doing it. Paintings and movies always have some sort of loin cloth, but the reality was that He likely wasn’t left even with that, because shame was a major part of the punishment. We really don’t grasp all that Jesus went through for us, or the magnitude of the love that made Him do it. When we realize that it was our own sin that did that to Him, we are transformed as we need to be, and as Paul said, we are crucified with Him, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in and through us. (Galatians 2:20)

Every time I perform a wedding I do a minor dramatization of the crucifixion, to drive home the reality of God’s love for us, in contrast to our own conditional love. Even so, I could benefit from more meditation on the cross and all that transpired there. I have known the facts of the Gospel for as long as I can remember, but there is a world of difference between knowing facts and letting them “dwell in you.” (Colossians 3:16) Since Jesus is the Word of God (John 1) and He lives in me, in a way that cannot be explained by either physics or biology, then the goal of my existence is to let Him do so more and more, and a major factor in that is to live out the truth of the Bible. I find myself running in linguistic and logical circles trying to explain it, because it is indeed beyond merely human understanding. (Ephesians 3:19) I need both to be caught up in the wonder of it all and to live it out in fully practical terms, letting it control every detail of my life, because the love of God is worthy of that and more.

Father, this is Good Friday indeed. Thank You for that day 2000 years ago, and thank You for all that You have planned for today. Help me live each moment of today in right relationship with You and with those around me, by the love that only You can supply, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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