Jesus Died for Us!
Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others–one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
The cross–an instrument of the most dreadful and agonizing torture, commonly used among the Romans for slaves and criminals. Persons sentenced to crucifixion were first scourged, and then compelled to bear their own cross to the place of execution. Crucifixion was reserved for the worst and most hardened of criminals and a sign was usually placed on the chest of or over the head of the one being executed. What humiliation Christ endured as our substitute.
Jesus was reckoned a sinner and counted a curse for our sakes–He was the mightiest sin offering ever to be seen–bearing our disgrace In the book of Hebrews we find this summation:
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. (Hebrews 13:11-13)
We must choose to follow Jesus regardless of the humiliation or suffering that being His disciple might entail. We may be stretched past our “safe” confinements of traditions and ceremonies or friends and family or location and lands. We may be deserted by all, persecuted for our doctrine and practice, and yet be willing to stand alone. As we carry our crosses, we embrace His right over our lives and in so doing take hold of the life that is truly life. Whatever cross He calls us to, we must remember that He bore His cross first. He died among the criminals fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah:
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
How incredible that the words Pilate chose to place on the cross of our Lord would be the exact proclamation God would have the world to know! How symbolic that those words were nailed to the wood on which Jesus bore ours sins. How like God to use someone like Pilate to accomplish His purpose!
“JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” the proclamation read. Christ came to be a King, and as a King He lived and suffered and died for His subjects. The sign eliminates any confusion about who He is. The myriads who pass by, those who witness the crucifixion, see that Jesus really did suffer. and that He was not at the last moment released, or another punished in His stead, or His death taken away by miraculous intervention.
Jesus’ vicarious death blotted out the ordinances of the law which was held against us. Paul tells us Christ nailed them to the cross:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Take It to Heart
“The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours. Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive–He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm … Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.”