As the first part of Jesus’ punishment, Pilate’s men scourged him, meaning they tied Jesus to a post and whipped him. Pilate’s men were roman soldiers, men who probably did not respect Jews and Jewish customs.
In addition to whipping Jesus, the soldiers made fun of Jesus, that even though he was called the King of the Jews he was to be crucified. They made a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They also put a royal-looking robe on him and said, “Hail King of the Jews!” and hit him in the face and spit on him. Some of them bowed before him and pretended to worship him. Then they put Jesus’ own clothes back on him to lead him away to crucify him.
The Bible says that Jesus carried his cross. It must have been extremely exhausting to do this after the suffering Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before and the whipping he had just received. It’s possible Jesus wasn’t physically capable to continue carrying the cross; the soldiers found a man to carry the cross, Simon of Cyrene, and they led Jesus to Golgotha, also called Calvary, a hill just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. That is where Jesus was to be crucified.
There were different ways that Roman soldiers crucified people who were being put to death. Sometimes they tied the prisoner to a pole or cross to suffer for days before dying. Sometimes they nailed them there. In this case, they wanted the prisoner to die that day so they nailed Jesus to the cross.
Of the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The soldiers divided some of Jesus’ clothing, then cast lots (sort of like rolling dice) to see which of them could have his coat. The soldiers were instructed by Pontius Pilate to also make a sign to put above his head that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews” written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, so everyone – the Greeks, Romans, and Jews could read and understand. The Jewish leaders who wanted Jesus crucified asked for the sign to be changed to “This is Jesus who said I am King of the Jews”. But Pilate kept the sign as it was.
The one merciful thing the soldiers did was to offer Jesus a drink: vinegar with gall or myrrh, that would dull Jesus’ senses. Jesus refused this, determined instead to keep his senses and feel the full pain of crucifixion.
People watching said terrible things. Some said that Jesus could save others, but cannot save himself. Others told him that if he could come down off the cross now, they would believe him.
Near the cross of Jesus, watching the terrible scene of crucifixion, included Mary the mother of Jesus, and John, one of Jesus’ disciples who described himself in writing the gospel of John as ”the disciple whom He loved.” At this time of horrible suffering, Jesus wanted his mother to be cared for after Jesus was gone. So Jesus said to his mother Mary, “Woman, behold thy son!” while somehow indicating that she should look at John. Then turning to John, Jesus said, “Behold thy mother!” John wrote that from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
After suffering the horrible pain of being nailed to the cross all afternoon and into the evening, Jesus said, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Apparently, God the Father had withdrawn his Spirit from Jesus so that Jesus could finish this final task completely alone. Jesus showed absolute obedience to the Father and absolute love for us by finishing the work of sacrifice he was sent to do.
Jesus finally said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
For the last few hours there had been darkness in the sky; now there was an earthquake. The Bible has this reaction recorded:
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Jesus was dead.
What do you think?
- This story has a very sad ending, but this is not really the end. The most amazing part of the story is coming soon! Do we sometimes feel sad about how things are going in our life and forget that there will be a better ending coming later?
- How does Jesus’ suffering help him understand the difficult things you face in your life?
- How can we ask Jesus to help us in times that we are suffering and need Him?
- Jesus thought of helping his mother during his time of great suffering; it would be so difficult to do this, but have you been able to think of helping others while going through a hard time?
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