And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
In the past, I have led several dozen tours to Israel. Quite often on the first night in Jerusalem, after I know my guests have been fed and are sound asleep, I slip away from the hotel and walk about a half hour to the hill called Calvary. It’s located on the north side of the old city of Jerusalem. There, several hundred yards away from the famed Damascus Gate, stands a diesel-smelly bus station. During the daytime, it’s both crowded and noisy. But at night, bathed in moonlight, it’s not so bad. Just behind the bus station stands a rocky crag. Clearly etched against the facade is a skull. Golgatha! It is at the foot of this rock, I believe, that Jesus was crucified. I stand there alone, sometimes for a long time, just contemplating the enormity of the price paid for my salvation.
The Romans were experts at crucifixion. One April day, A.D. 30, three men emerged from the Antonia Prison, flanked by the death squads. Three cross-pieces had been requisitioned from the supply room. The actual uprights were always left standing at the place of execution and were used frequently. Each of the three victims had his wrists bound about six inches apart, allowing his hands to curl over the timber on his shoulders. Only one of them, Jesus of Nazareth, had been beaten prior to the cruel march. His body had been bent over a whipping post in the courtyard of the fortress. The soldier who had beaten Him had used a flagellum, a whip made of strips of leather with bits of bone and chain fastened to them. Every time the whip crashed against Jesus’ body, skin and flesh were torn away. Now, at Calvary, the banging of mallet against nail could be heard. Jesus’ cross stood at the edge of the roadway where passers-by could revile Him and spit upon Him. But, as my friend Tony Campolo has preached so often, “That was Friday….Sunday was comin’!” Lest I forget God’s love for me, I visit Calvary as often as possible. And I stand there – and just remember.
Prayer: O God, what infinite love You have shown to us in the giving of your only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would never die but have eternal life. Thank you! Let my life show my gratitude today. Amen.