The Passion of the Christ
With the recent opening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” this passage of scripture has more meaning than it ever has. What Jesus went through was a bloody, awful ordeal. Three years ago when I wrote this, I felt that the reality of Jesus execution had, for the most part, been glossed over, so I tried to explain how horrible it was. No longer; now I can say, “go see the movie.” Still, you should read this devotional as a reminder of what Jesus endured for you. (warning – the following text is pretty gruesome)
After being whipped nearly to death, Jesus was given his own cross to carry through the morning market then outside the city gate. Due to the loss of blood, Jesus was terribly dehydrated. Carrying a very heavy piece of wood didn’t help. Tradition has it that He collapsed three times on the way. One of those times, a man visiting from North Africa, Simon, was asked to carry the cross for Jesus for a while. Jesus made it to His destination, “skull hill,” only to have his clothes taken away, and laid bare-back on that rough hewn piece of wood. He was then nailed through the wrists and the ankles (right where major nerves are) to the cross He carried. Then, He was lifted up where His full weight was on His arms, slowly pulling his shoulder sockets out of joint. He couldn’t breathe unless he drew himself up by his nailed wrists and pushed up on the nail through his ankles. The severed nerves cause great pain. Pushing up also meant that his shredded back would scrape against the rough-hewn wood. He had to do all this with every breath. Some men tried to give Jesus wine with myrrh, a sedative and pain killer, but Jesus refused.
Aside from the pain, Jesus was also being mocked by those around Him, yet that wasn’t the worst part. Around noon, a fierce storm suddenly came from nowhere. Turmoil was in the air. Three hours into the storm, Jesus exclaimed: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” During that storm, every sin man ever committed throughout time had been placed on Him. The sight of Jesus with these sins upon Him was so terrible that God looked away from Jesus, and in that moment Jesus was all alone in the universe — separated from God. Jesus was experiencing Hell. It was that pain that probably killed Him moments later.
Even at His death, Jesus saved one more person; a centurion who said: “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
Back up the hill in the temple, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the people was miraculously torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death, symbolizing a new covenant with God’s people. God would soon vacate the temple and begin to live in the hearts of believers. And that veil was over a foot thick!
Though the disciples had all fled, Mark records that there were reliable witnesses at Jesus’ crucifixion — Mary Magdalene, and Mary, mother of James the less, Joses and Salome. These two women will be the ones who go to the tomb to anoint Jesus after the Sabbath, only to find Him missing and an angel in His place. That angel tells them to go and tell the disciples, especially Peter, that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. Jesus is not dead after all and He has a plan for His disciples. Christ has risen!
Jesus suffered greatly for us. He willingly died so that we might not be separated from Him for all eternity. He allowed heaven in our future. Thank Him for that today, and be a part of God’s great plan.