“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 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. 21 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.”22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” John 19.16-22
We could look at the many aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion. This passage alone has been the subject of I dare to say, millions of sermons, bible studies and devotionals. Christians and nonbelievers the world over have examined this story and come away with different perspectives on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.
For example, we could focus our attention upon how Jesus carried his own cross or that he carried it to a place called Golgotha, meaning Skull in Aramaic, and the significance of that location. We could emphasize that Jesus was crucified most likely on a Roman built road, at eye level with passerby’s, not on a picturesque hill like we often imagine. We could focus on what we learned about these two other men or thieves as described in other Gospels.
We could discuss the sign, how it was written in Aramaic, Greek and Latin (not Hebrew) and what was written on it offended the Jews and actually back fired against them. “He is not our king,” the told Pilate. But he refused to change the sign. A slap in the face for the Jews killing Jesus.
We could discuss any of these topics which are just a glimpse into the whole of the crucifixion story but we’d be forgetting about the primary person in the picture, Jesus, and how he is hanging on a cross. So many other topics take us along rabbit trails of interest and mystery but the center of the story is Jesus. If we focused only on these other topics we would be not better off than the passerby’s who looked up at Jesus on the cross with mixed feelings of anger, guilt or disgust.
The central theme of the crucifixion is the Christ. The narrative tells the story but the centerpiece is the man who bore our sins for the sake of the world.
Don’t overlook him today. Our world is in desperate need of his love, his care and his protection. Cry out to the one who is calling out to you.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me and for allowing me to be your hands and feet, heart and soul. Help me communicate your message of love for a world filled with darkness, pain and regret. I praise you Lord for loving me deeply. Thank you for giving up your life so I might find purpose in your plan. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen