Matthew 27:32-43 and Luke 23:34
Jesus, was handed over to die, though He had done no wrong. He was mercilessly flogged and as His blood trickled down onto the dusty earth beneath His feet, He was forced to carry his own cross to the execution site. There at Golgotha, the place of the Skull, He was offered wine to drink mixed with a drug to numb the pain of what was about to happen. Yet Jesus refused to drink! Choosing rather to face death at its worst. He wanted His thoughts unclouded. Matthew tells us that the Roman soldiers divided up His clothes by casting lots for them, before Jesus was nailed to the rough wooden beams and hoisted high in the air.
All those who passed by began to hurl insults at Him mockingly they encouraged Him to save Himself, jeering: “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders were also there to witness His agony and they too ridiculed Him shouting: “He saved others, … but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:41-43)
Truth be told, Jesus could have saved Himself, but He chose not to even telling Peter earlier in Matthew 26:53-54: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Even in the midst of His agony Jesus was focused on seeing the Father’s Word fulfilled.
Those who were executed by crucifixion died in one of two ways: from blood loss or from suffocation, for as the body hung there it was impossible to take a breath. The only way for Jesus to get oxygen was for Him to push up on the nail through His feet long enough to take a shallow gulp of air. The pain must have been unbearable and yet remarkably Jesus still managed to speak seven times while nailed to the cross! We know that these words of Christ are important because we know the sheer effort it took to utter them as life ebbed from His body.
As if the physical pain was not enough Jesus was taunted adding insult to His injury. Yet, as the post of the cross thumped heavily into the ground, Luke 23:34 records the first thing out of Christ’s mouth as being: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” With no thought for Himself, Christ’s first prayer was that God the Father would forgive mankind for their sin.
No one took Jesus’ life! He gladly gave it. Enduring the agony of the cross He took the full weight of our punishment upon Himself so that God the Father would be able to forgive us all of our sins. If God did not punish sin He would not be just. But God is also merciful. Not wanting us to perish, in His mercy He sent His one and only Son to die on our behalf and it is here at the cross that God’s justice and His mercy meet, so that at Christ’s request we can be fully forgiven. Christ did not cry out for revenge! No, He was willing to forgive those who rejected Him and harmed Him! The desire that we be forgiven was so important to Him it was the first thing He prayed in the midst of His pain.
No servant is greater than his master and as Christ forgave we too should be willing to forgive those who hurt us. Paul puts it this way in Colossians 3:13, encouraging us to: “Bear with each other and forgive one another … Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Blessings on your day!