Two rows in front of me were church members standing to read the account of the crucifixion that Good Friday. I was dressed in black—something to outwardly signify my setting aside of time to think of the day my Jesus had died. But I didn’t want to listen as the Scripture readers gave voice to the stripes, the crown of thorns, and the cross at “The Place of a Skull.” Stuck to my chair, I diverted eye contact from the readers—looking through vision soft and wet to the wall at my right.
It’s been some weeks between that day and this one—sitting down with the account of Jesus’ death to write. Somewhat not wanting to. Knowing that as I read these words, I must remember that He paid for my sins at The Place of a Skull. Do I look away—not making eye contact with these pages that see through to my transparent soul so exposed by the scourging of the Christ?
Blood was spilled for my soul—it’s where I most see that I am a mess with a desperately wicked heart, apart from Him. I don’t want to look because I don’t want to envision what was done to the Lord because of my sin—for I’ve received His grace and I love Him. I see the mess and destruction and evil of that day as a picture of my own soul apart from Him; I see great, transparent, dire need that translated directly onto the Lord.
I must go here, to the cross—I must visit the day that Jesus died in the Scriptures. I certainly cannot look away to be helped or find myself otherwise able to worship the Lamb. I’m here. So below I tread humbly and somewhat lightly, because of my inadequacy with my words to write about Scripture’s account of God’s crucifixion—sacred doctrine, tear-evoking details, a depiction of God’s heart. As I read through, the Holy Spirit, the Word, Jesus, is looking to me directly, saying, “Child, I love you.” As I read of Love, I see the hope peering, reaching, and then pouring through this day. The day Jesus died.
1. Hope of holiness
I begin with the Lord having been through His trial, having received flogging and a crown of thorns. He was handed over to death.
“So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.”
Jesus “went out.” According to Hebrews 13:11-13, a parallel exists here with the Old Testament sin offering. For this offering, the sacrifice was brought into the holy place, but then the body of the animal sacrificed was taken outside of camp to be burned. In the Old Testament, holiness was represented through degrees: the camp, the tabernacle court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. When something was deemed unholy, it was taken outside the camp. Jesus, the holy and perfect, was disgraced and taken there, “outside the camp,” for His crucifixion.
Could it be that an outside-of-camp mess like me could be restored through Him? Taken in to the holy places of God because of Him? Be put together again?
2. Hope of a Leader
“Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but rather, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’”
The Jewish religious system leaders resented the teachings of Jesus and the following He had. They did not recognize Him as their Messiah because their hearts took pride in their status as leaders and not in their God. But Jesus’ status as King did not alter because the Jewish leaders did not believe Him.
The account continues with a fulfilled prophecy:
“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
‘They divided My garments among them,
and for My clothing they cast lots.’”
This prophetic fulfillment was very specific, and, remarkably, it was fulfilled by the soldiers with no outside prompting—giving further Scriptural demonstration to Jesus’ messianic kingship.
Could it be that I have a proven, trusted, unchanging, and divine Leader King who is able to take my hand and lead me away from my mess of wickedness?
3. Hope of being cared for
“So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and 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, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”
Jesus looked and saw His mother from the cross—He knew that this death would uniquely impact her as a mother. In these words above, He pronounced the arrangements for His mother’s care, who was most likely a widow without income. He speaks with words full of the intentions He has for her, that she would sense belonging, care, and love. In the middle of dying and being crucified, Jesus cared for His soon-to-be bereaved mother.
Could it be that Jesus cares for me, for motherhood? Could it be that He wants me to know that He thinks of this—and it is so significant as to interrupt the account of crucifixion with this display familial care? (That, when thinking of the personally caring character of God, it is not an “interruption” at all?)
4. Hope of being covered
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
With the single word in Greek, tetelestai, He spoke, “It is finished.” According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary, this same word was used across receipts for taxes in Jesus’ time—meaning, “paid in full.”
Could it be that the payment for my mess, my sin, my wickedness, has already been fully, completely, in totality made? Across me, covering everything that is wrong, shameful, guilt-inducing, Jesus writes, tetelastai? Paid in full.
Hope Pouring Through the Day Jesus Died
Come to this day Jesus died, precious Jesus. Let your soul be flooded with this hope, His hope:
- the truth that Jesus’ being brought to the place of unholiness, while being perfect, means holiness and restoration for you, believer
- the gift you have of a Leader King who takes you by the hand out of your wicked mess of sin to forgiveness, holiness, and peace with God
- the care and concern of Jesus for motherhood, for familial care, for your time mothering (if applicable) and for your role as a mother to your child(ren), for you personally
- the hope that you, believer, are covered in Jesus, which means your sins are paid in full—you cannot mess this up, for it is already finished