the journey to calvary

Jesus began His journey to Calvary long before He was ever born, but the last week of His life culminated with His cruel crucifixion and the beginning of my life rose with His resurrection. Jesus left the beatings and taunting of the Roman soldiers with the burden of a heavy wooden cross, as he was handed over to be crucified. As they led him away, Jesus struggled with the cross, and the guards seized Simon from Cyrene, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover. A large crowd of people followed behind Jesus, including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus turned to them and told them not to weep for Him, but to weep for themselves and their children. He warned them that because of His rejection, they would face persecution. Jesus’ message was being rejected while He was physically present. How much more would it be rejected in the coming ages! Two others, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be crucified.

It was early in the morning when Jesus came to Golgotha (The Place of the Skull). They offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh but after tasting if, he refused to drink it. They crucified him, along with the criminals, two revolutionaries. One was on his right and the other on his left. It was about 9 o’clock in the morning when he was nailed to the cross. Pilate had prepared a notice of his crime. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. It was written in three languages Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. All that passed by that day read it. The chief priests of the Jews did not like what it said, so they protested to Pilate. Pilate was firm and kept the sign above Jesus’ head.

When the Roman soldiers began nailing Jesus to the cross He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” These soldiers then took His clothes and divided them by casting lots. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece. Prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus was left to hang on the cross, naked. The soldiers kept watch while Jesus hung on the cross. People passed by Him. They sneered and him, hurled insults at him, some shook their heads and said, “So you who are going to destroy the temple in three days, save yourself! Come down, if you are the Son of God.” They constantly mocked him and laughed at him. One of the criminals who hung there also hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other revolutionary rebuked his friend. “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then the criminal made an amazing request. He asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Also standing near the cross was Mary the mother of Jesus, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” Jesus took care of His mother by putting her in John’s care. At about noon darkness came over the whole land and remained until three o’clock in afternoon. The sun stopped shining. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some thought He was calling out for Elijah. Jesus knew that all was about to be completed and called out, “I am thirsty.” Immediately one of those nearby filled a sponge with wine vinegar and lifted it to His mouth. The others wondered if Elijah would come to take Him down from the cross. When He had received the drink, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “It is finished.” Then He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When He had said this He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn into two pieces. It ripped from the top to the bottom, not by human hands. The holy of holies was revealed and the earth shook. The earthquake broke open many tombs and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people.

These events terrified those who were guarding Jesus. The centurion who had heard His cry and watched Him die exclaimed, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” Many people who had gathered to witness the crucifixion beat their breasts and went away. Those who knew Him, including women who had followed Him from Galilee, (Mary the mother of Zebedee’s sons and Salome) stood at a distance. It was Preparation day and the next day was a special Sabbath, and the Jews did not want dead bodies left on crosses during the Sabbath. Roman soldiers were sent out to break the legs of those on the cross, but when they got to Jesus he was already dead. They pierced His side with a spear instead of breaking His legs. This was part of the fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus was taken off the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb. The journey to Calvary was completed.

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