You’ve Never Read Anything Like This!
Bent nearly double under the weight of a huge cross, a Man, guarded by soldiers and followed by a yelling, mocking mob, struggles up a hill. Sweat and blood are mingled on His white face, drawn with pain, for a crown of sharp thorns has been pressed upon His head with such force that it is piercing the flesh deeply. One needle-like dart is sticking just above one eye, and the blood is running down and partially obscuring His vision. His hands are bound tightly behind his back which, with horror, we see to be streaming with blood, cut and lacerated terribly and with long, livid welts showing where the lash of the whip has fallen in the awful scourging He has received. His face is swollen, and the marks of someone’s fingers can be seen on one pale cheek.
He staggers, the rough cross lying with all its weight on the horribly lacerated back. Realizing that the Man can go no further thus burdened, the soldiers lay hold on a member of the howling mob and bind the cross to his back. In the meantime, the Man has been revived and is once more standing on His trembling legs, and at once, the procession is again on its way up the steep hill.
Reaching the summit, the cross is laid upon it. Someone sits at its base and places His two feet together on the heavy beam, as someone else brings a huge spike about eight inches long and a heavy hammer. What are they going to do? Someone else has also brought hammers and spikes as two burly fellows stretch His arms out on the crossbeams. Is it possible? Can we believe our eyes and ears? Are they really driving spikes through the hands and feet of a living being? Horror of horrors! It is true! The thud of a hammer against nails is mingled with the sound of deep groans from the bloodless lips of the stricken Man, as the heavy spikes tear through the flesh and grate past bones on their way to the wood beneath. Surely now they will be content with their hellish hate. That is what they desire, is it not? But no! There is a deep hole dug at the base of the structure, and now several husky soldiers lift the burdened cross and, with many grunts, drop it with a thud into the hole. The strain of His weight on the nailed hands and feet force a cry from the lips of the Man, but He does not curse those who so cruelly torture His body. Instead, He lifts His eyes to the heavens and speaks. What does He say? Does he pray for Himself, that His pain may be lessened? Ah, no! This is His prayer: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). A plea of forgiveness for these cruel, heartless people who have subjected Him to such untold suffering and humiliation, and now have nailed Him to a cross to die in excruciating agony.
Minutes pass, and He hangs motionless, while the blood drips ceaselessly from His head, His back, His hands, and His feet. The torn back is raising a fever. His throat is parched, and feebly He asks for a drink. Someone runs quickly, and dipping a sponge into a liquid raises it on a long reed to the white lips. Alas! It is not water. They bring Him vinegar. Think of it! It would seem that they could have pitied Him now, seeing that He is dying. Surely, there must be someone in all that vast mob who would relent and have compassion. But no! Instead, they mock and taunt Him to save Himself if He is the Son of God as He has affirmed (Luke 23:36-37).
But suddenly every voice is hushed, and the people stand scarcely daring to breathe. A feeling of horror grips their hearts as every light in creation seems to be snuffed out and an intense darkness, so deep as to seem tangible, settles over the earth. As they fearfully ask each other what such a phenomenon can mean, a vivid flash of lightning, which splits the darkness for a moment only to make it more intense, seems to strike at the cross, and is followed by a crash of thunder that shakes the earth. For three hours the Man on the cross is the center of this strange and terrific storm. It is as if the mighty wrath of God has joined its fury with that of the mob against this one forsaken, suffering Person. But the heart that had so bravely endured man’s rejection cannot endure a seeming separation for His God; and suddenly a loud cry issues from His tortured lips, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And with another loud cry, He says, “It is finished,” and He bows His head and gives up the Spirit. Then indeed, it seems that God would vent His wrath upon the people who have so misused His only Son. The earth shakes and rocks; and then the veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom, and many graves are opened. Then it is that the terrified people begin to speak to each other in awed tones: “Truly this must have been the Son of God, and we have crucified Him.” And they flee in every direction from the awful place of the skull.
FOR ME - FOR YOU
Have I caused you to see this tragedy? Have you also pictured in your mind the Man on His ascent up the hill, His crucifixion, the awful storm of darkness, the vivid lighting, the crashing thunder, the pain and death, the dripping blood? Did you wonder why God also appeared to direct His fierce anger at the Man who had already suffered the cruelest, the most excruciating agony and humiliation? Did you wonder why the Man should have cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Did you hear the blow of the hammers against the spikes as they tore their way through the living flesh? Did you see the agony on His white face? Did you see the mark on His cheek where someone had slapped Him, and did you see those awful ragged cuts on His back and that thorn above one eye?
If you did not get this picture will you read it again? Will you go with Him in your mind all the way, and see, hear, and feel all that you would if you had actually been there? Then ask, “Why must such a tragedy have occurred?”
And let me tell you! It was for you! It was for me! Now say this with me:
It was for me He had His back cut to ribbons with a cat-o’-nine tails. For me someone slapped His face till the marks remained for hours. For me someone mocked Him and crushed the sharp thorns on His brow. For me He carried the heavy cross till He fainted. For me He was stretched on the cross and nailed there. For me He endured the awful pain without the comfort of a drop of cool water to ease His fever. For me His last hours were tortured with a sense of separation from the Father he adored.
It was my sins that hid the Father's face from Him and make Him cry out in terror; it was my sins that sent Him to His death. How can I express it? It was all for me, unworthy me. It was I who deserved all He endured, but He did it for me. You ask me why? Why did He volunteer to die for us- for you and for me? I cannot tell you more than to say it was because He loved us. How could it be? It is too wonderful for me to think out. My mind is too small. I only know that He suffered and died so that I could be freed from the power of Satan and that I might have eternal life. I know that I love Him because of it, and that I shall never cease to thank Him and praise the Father for the matchless love He revealed when He let His dearest possession suffer for me.
Can you continue to reject Him now? Is your heart still hardened? Are you unwilling yet to believe Him when He says He is the only way for the salvation of your soul? Does your heart not thrill at the love He has shown for you? Think of it! All that happened on the hill at Golgotha was for the insurance of your happiness and eternal welfare. Can’t you see it?
Such suffering, such love- for me, for you!
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