Today’s Scripture – May 18, 2017

Matthew 27:32-38 (NIV) As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Jesus was so weakened by the beatings He had received and the loss of blood that He could barely stand, let alone walk with a seventy-pound log lashed across His shoulders. So the soldiers impressed Simon, a bystander from Cyrene, in town for the Passover, to carry the heavy crossbeam for Jesus. Ahead of them in the procession went a soldier carrying the placard that proclaimed the crime for which Jesus was to be executed: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

The distance was not far to Golgotha, the so-called Place of the Skull, along one of the major roads into the city. But each step would have been torture for Jesus, broken in body as He already was. When they got to the execution site, Jesus, like every prisoner sentenced to the torture of crucifixion, was offered a sedating combination of wine mixed with gall and myrrh, but one taste showed Jesus what the mixture was, and He refused to drink it. He was going to do this clear-headed, and able to suffer every pang.

Despite modern depictions of Jesus hanging on the cross in a loincloth to preserve His modesty, the victims, both men and women, were crucified naked, the shame of the experience being an important part of the deterrent effect. The victim’s clothes were distributed among the soldiers assigned to the detail, a perk to make the horrendous nature of their job a bit more palatable. So they cast lots to see who got what, and then settled in for the long watch until sunset. At that point, those who were being executed would either be dead already, or they would be swiftly dispatched by breaking their legs so that they could not push themselves up to breathe.

Jesus was not the only one crucified that day. On each side of Him another man hung, each with a placard over his head that identified him as a robber. It was amazing company for the Son of God to die among!

Father, Matthew spared us the most gruesome details of the crucifixion, but even the little he included fills my heart with horror at what Jesus went through to pay for my sins. He could have drunk the potion to numb the pain, but He refused to not feel everything. It was all or nothing for Him, and he chose all, for my sake, and for the sake of the whole world. Amazing love! Amazing grace! Amazing Savior! Amen.

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