The Cross

When Jesus died, all the ambitions,  hopes and dreams of his followers died with him.
Convinced that he was Israel’s Messiah, they expected Jesus would overthrow the tyranny of Rome, and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel! They saw his miracles — calming the sea, raising the dead — as signalling that God was about to repeat the epic miracles of the Exodus when Moses parted the Red Sea to drown Egypt’s armies, or when He brought down the walls of Jericho for Joshua.
It was this expectation that caused his disciples to leave everything and follow him. It was why they speculated which of them would be the greatest. It was why Mrs Zebedee asked Jesus if her boys, James and John, could sit either side of Him on his throne.
When the soldiers came to the Garden of Gethsemane with their lanterns in the dead of night to arrest Jesus, the disciples at first wanted to take them on. But when Jesus surrendered to them without a fight, all they could do was panic and run. Totally bewildered, they were preoccupied with their own survival and went into hiding. As dawn broke and the full tragedy unfolded, their hopes began to free fall into despair.
Crucifixion was shockingly brutal; whipped until the ribs were visible, hands and feet nailed to a cross, then hoisted up and dropped into a hole in the ground, jarring all the bones out of joint. Exhausted, parched, dehydrated, and on the verge of asphyxiation, as the victim’s weight squeezed on his diaphragm. To breathe he had to lift his weight so he could gasp in the air needed to prolong the agony. All this under the constant taunts of the crowd surrounding him.
As Jesus was about to die he cried out, ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”… This the first line of Psalm 22 written 1000 years earlier. No doubt the rest of the words of the Psalm would eerily have gripped all those who heard him. Jesus was showing that this had been God’s plan all along. The Psalm goes on… “… All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him… I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death… a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me… They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”
But as amazing than this supernatural revelation, is the truth that there on the cross Jesus was bearing the sin of all of the human race. 1 Peter 2:23-25 explains what happened that day this way… “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”