April 2 I Friday
“The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.” —John 10:17-18
There was a little girl who went to Sunday school for the first time. When she came home, her mother asked, “What did you learn today?” The girl responded, “We sang a song about a bear.” Intrigued, the mother questioned, “A bear? What kind of bear was it?” The girl answered, “He was cross-eyed and his name is Gladly.” Confused, the mother asked, “What song did you sing?” The girl replied, “Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear.”
As funny as the above story is, the cross that Jesus gladly bore for us was a solemn ordeal. On the road leading to His crucifixion, Jesus was flogged. The amount of flogging was determined by the centurion in charge; when the prisoner was near death, the beatings finally stopped. Jesus was not only flogged, but the soldiers stripped Jesus of His clothes and put a scarlet robe on Him, twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on His head and gave Him a staff. They spat on Him and mocked Him. Then they took the staff and struck Jesus on the head over and over again. They placed Jesus’s clothes back on and led Him to the place called Golgotha. The ultimate humiliation was that Jesus had to carry His own cross to the place in which He would die. Because of all the torture that Jesus had endured, He collapsed under the weight of the cross, so they pulled a man from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene, to carry it for Him.
The climax of cruelty was crucifixion, death by suffocation on a cross. Because it was a slow and painful death, some took up to 48 hours to die, which is why to speed the process the victim’s legs would be broken. But for Jesus, He was practically half dead from the beatings before He was on the cross. At the sixth hour, He uttered His last words, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” (Luke 23:46) and breathed His last. Afterwards, the sky went black for three hours.
The Jews wanted the crosses emptied before the Sabbath, so the soldiers came to break the legs of the victims. When they got to Jesus, they did not break His legs because he was already dead, fulfilling God’s words, “Not one of His bones will be broken” (John 19:36). Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate requesting Jesus’s body in order to bury it with dignity. As Christians, we know the events did not end with His burial. Jesus knew the price He had to pay to bear the cross for us, but He gladly did it because He knew what it would bring to all the world––salvation.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for gladly bearing the cross for me, for the suffering and pain that You endured for my salvation. Praise You!