Holy Week - Friday: Crucifixion

"With Shame Weighed Down"

Matt. 27

As we read the account of the crucifixion of Jesus, we can only imagine the agony of Jesus, His mother and His followers. Surely every dream they ever had was dying a slow death, and the sorrow and grief recorded in this passage is just unbearable. There are so many things to note in this text, but we will concentrate on just one: the shame of Calvary.

What a dreadful emotion shame is.  Jesus was physically stripped naked, and nailed to the cross, place of death for common criminals.  He endured the physical shame, emotional shame, and most of all spiritual shame, as His Father turned His face from the vile sinfulness Jesus bore on the cross. Jesus, the beloved and only begotten Son of God, who enjoyed such love and intimacy with His righteous Father, had to suffer the guilt of the sin of the entire world. Have you ever thought about that phrase, “the sin of the whole world”? No wonder Jesus was repulsed at the “cup” in the Garden as He prayed. That cup was for all men’s sin….for murderers, child molesters, all perverse immoralities, cruel oppression of the poor and needy – it contained all of the wicked sins of mankind.

What utter humiliation, shame and disgrace, for Jesus, the perfect Son of God, to hang on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth. As He was dying, people passed by insulting and scorning Him, believing that He was getting what He truly deserved (see Psalm 44:15).  Hebrews 12:2 says that “Jesus…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the SHAME, has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Isaiah 50:6 speaks the prophetic words, “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out My beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.”

Bernard of Clairvaux, a monk in 12th century France penned the words that are set to music in the hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”. This verse so poetically expressed his musings on Jesus’ death:

“O sacred head, now wounded,

With grief and shame weighed down

Now scornfully surrounded, with thorns, Thy only crown;

How art Thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!

How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

(So often in Baptist or evangelical churches, we hesitate to stop here in the crucifixion story. It seems so “Catholic” to concentrate on Christ’s death, rather than hurry on to the Resurrection. I challenge you to ‘stay here’ today. His death deserves serious reflection on our part since it was for us that He died. It would do all of us good to soberly ponder this today.)

Prayer for Today: Lord Jesus, to say “thank You” for the cross is so pitifully inadequate. We truly have no way to express our gratefulness for Your sacrifice. I am trying to understand what You did for me, I see Your sorrow and shame, knowing that You willingly took my place. Your life was not taken, but freely given. What else is there to say but thank You for your unfathomable love and mercy.

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