On Friday they took him to Pilate, asking him to decide;
A traitor and a blasphemer; he must be crucified!
Then to the cross they nailed him and watched him as he died;
On Friday they took him to Pilate, asking him to decide.
136 When I survey the wondrous cross (Tune: Rockingham)
1. When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
3. See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
46 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, I surrender my Spirit into your hands.” And he took his last breath and died.
47 When the Roman captain overseeing the crucifixion witnessed all that took place, he was awestruck and glorified God. Acknowledging what they had done, he said, “I have no doubt; we just killed the righteous one.”
Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you hadn’t got out of bed? Nothing seems to go right for you.
Perhaps the central heating failed overnight, and you end up with a cold shower. The milk has tipped over in the fridge, leaving a white sludge in the bottom. You can’t get the door open to receive a parcel from the postman. You discover you’ve run out of medicine. The children won’t eat their breakfast (even the adult ones!). Then at the end of the path you suddenly realise you’ve slammed the door and left your keys locked inside!
This is nothing in comparison to Jesus’ experience on Good Friday. He was taken from kangaroo court to show trial, where even the Roman governor was afraid to acknowledge his obvious innocence. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, followed him around until someone challenged him, then he slunk off, ashamed of his denial. In the end, Jesus was nailed to a cross between two criminals, and jeered at by commoners and religious leaders alike until he died.
Yet Jesus didn’t see this as defeat. In advance, he talked of being lifted up (exalted) on the cross, so that people would be drawn to him. It is ironic that one of the first to give Glory to Jesus was not a Jew, but the Roman soldier who supervised his crucifixion.
People often say of war, disease or other difficulty, “these things are sent to try us.” Although God rarely sends these things directly, it is true that they can “try” and hopefully prove our faith, so that we can give glory to God as Jesus did.
Think back over your life to times of difficulty and challenge. How did you cope? Can you see signs of God’s hand at work, to bring you through and make you a better person?
As we ponder the crucifixion of Jesus, and look forward to celebrating his resurrection on Sunday, ask God to show you how he can use you for his glory through this difficult time.