Coop's Column - Jesus Condemned and Crucified

Ibis ad crucem! You shall go to the cross! With these three words Pilate condemned Jesus to die by crucifixion. In this Lenten series we have been paying visits to several places where Jesus stopped as he with his disciples made his final journey to Jerusalem to die.


"As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, 'Crucify! Crucify!'…..So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha) Here they crucified him." (John 19:6, 16-18)

Ibis ad crucem! You shall go to the cross!

With these three words Pilate condemned Jesus to die by crucifixion.

In this Lenten series we have been paying visits to several places where Jesus stopped as he with his disciples made his final journey to Jerusalem to die.

The events of the several days he spent in Jerusalem after his triumphal entry on Sunday were full of ominous intrigue and suspense, events such as his last supper with his disciples, his walk to the Mount of Olives, his torturous hours spent in prayer with his Father in Gethsemane, his betrayal by Judas and arrest by the guards, his denial by Peter, his mock appearance before Caiphas and the Sanhedrin and his sham trial before Pilate.

But now the suspense ends: Pilate pronounces the sentence of death upon Jesus. Jesus is forced to carry his cross to a spot outside the city gates, to a hill called Golgotha, and there he is crucified.

It is to this place that we must go with Jesus on Good Friday. We must linger long there and take in carefully all that happened. For what happened at Golgotha when Jesus "was crucified, died, and was buried," as the Apostles Creed so succinctly declares, discloses both the raw and naked aggression of evil and also the supreme expression of God's love.  

The Ultimate Gift of Love

Jesus died. That sheer and simple fact, says John Stott, is charged with "theological significance." In the Bible human death is seen as a consequence of human wrongdoing. But during his entire life Jesus had done no wrong.  Why then did he die?  Only one explanation suffices: Jesus chose to die. Willingly he offered his life to pay for wrong that others, that we, had done.

His God-assigned work now complete and his heavy agony on the cross nearing its end, before he died Jesus announced triumphantly: "Tetelestai!" "It is accomplished." He had paid in full the debt of humanity's sin.

Jesus' death on the cross, claims Stott, underscores three Gospel truths:

1. Human sin is detestably outrageous, quite beyond human ability to comprehend or describe. Sinners assault God's honor and grieve his heart. So heavy is the assault and so grievous the wrongdoing that only the death of God's dear Son could pay the penalty and set things to rights again.

2. God's love, too, is beyond human ability to measure or describe. Almighty God could have left us in (our) sin's sorry despair. But he did not. Willingly he gave his own Son to endure the suffering and death that paying for our wrongdoing required.

3. The salvation Jesus accomplished is a (free) gift. No human being deserves it. No human being can earn it. But by simple trust in what Jesus, God's innocent Son, accomplished at Golgotha, any one can receive the eternal blessings his death brings.

Surveying the entire scene at Golgotha and beholding the One who was crucified, how can we keep from telling—no singing—to him:

"What Thou, my Lord, has suffered,
was all for sinners' gain,
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.        

On this Good Friday, the supreme manifestation of God the Father's love for his children, and of Jesus' sacrifice to save sinners, the Church acclaims:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5.12)

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