There was a restlessness in the crowd. In-between the awkward taunts and jeers the only sounds that could be heard were the labored attempts of the three men to draw a breath. The weight of their bodies pulling them down forced the air from their lungs as they hung by their arms. They were, in turn, forced to push up with their feet to provide enough space in their chest cavities to inhale much too short a breath.
The one in the center bore a crown of thorns. He was so severely beaten that he was almost unrecognizable. He was covered in his own caked-on blood. The brutal scourgings he had received left him with deep gouges in his flesh. The whip was designed to tear its victims to shreds. It had not failed its purpose.
Remarkably, as the crowd’s jeers reached their peak, this King of the Jews—as was declared on the placard—could be heard saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV). Even in his broken state, this man took no thought for himself. He didn’t cry out in his pain for mercy. He didn’t follow the cries of his taunters and ask his Father to take him down from the cross.
His eyes weren’t filled with terror, as would be the case with most being executed. Instead, one could see compassion. One could see a longing, not for a break from the pain nor a swift death. As he looked upon the crowd he saw his purpose.
Yes, they were responsible for putting him there. Their voices had prevailed before Pontius Pilate, though he had done no wrong. They cried out in their anger. They had no idea that it was the voice of their sins that rose that day before Pilate.
His body devastated by massive blood loss and dehydration, and bearing the weight of the sins of the world, he used his final breath to say, “‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30, ESV). Never before, and never since, has the death of one man accomplished so much.
That man“was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4, ESV). Yes, his death did not last, for on the third day his tomb was vacated when he rose from the dead.
While we look forward to Easter and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, we should spend a little time remembering and celebrating his sacrificial, atoning and efficacious death. For “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22, ESV).
Have a blessed and mindful Good Friday, and a joyous Easter!