The Cross – Part IVDecember 15, 2006
Continued from // The Cross – Part III
The Cross jerked, bringing Jesus back to the moment. Slowly it began to move skyward. Weekly, Jesus looked right and left. On either side of Him, the other crosses were being raised. With a lurch, the Cross fell forward into the hole made for it, throwing Jesus against the nails. Groaning, Jesus looked Heavenward, looking for the Father. As Jesus gazed, the clouds darkened, darkness fell, and the Father left Jesus. In His desperation, Jesus cried out to His Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” But the Father did not hear Him; Jesus alone shouldered the burden of the sins of mankind.
There He was, nailed to the Cross, with two common criminals on either side of Him, and a sign above Him that mocked, “This is the King of the Jews.” Roman soldiers were about the crosses, three of them were casting lots for His clothes, ordinary people were passing by on the road and would throw insults at Him, and there was a small throng still lingering and insulting Him. In front of Jesus stretched the city of Jerusalem, with the Temple sparkling above the low-lying homes and shops. The sky was overcast, the sun was fading, the whole countryside looked bleak, as if it was mourning for the Son of God.
As the two men and Jesus hung on the crosses, the one of Jesus’ left began throwing insults as Jesus as well. “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the one of Jesus’ right rebuked him, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” He then turned to Jesus and pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
At the sixth hour, there was a great thundering in the clouds, and the whole land became black as if it was night, and it stayed dark until the ninth hour. As the ninth hour rolled came, Jesus lifted His head heavenward and cried out, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit,” and, Jesus Christ the Lord, died. As the echoes of His cry died away, Jesus exhaled, and went limp. At that moment, there was a great earthquake. In the Temple, just as the High Priest was about to sacrifice the perfect lamb for the entire nation of Israel, the veil between the Court of the Priests and the Holy of Holies tore from top to bottom. The priests cried out in alarm, and turned to run out of the Temple. But there, on the hilltop, Jesus hung on the Cross, as if a lamb who was slain. Several of the priests fell down on the spot in worship of the true Lamb of God.
Continued on // The Cross – Part V