“So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. 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.” (John 19:16-18)
Today’s text chronicles the passive obedience of Christ in willingly submitting to the Father’s will by becoming a substitutionary atoning sacrifice on behalf of sinners. This passive obedience was in Jesus willingly being delivered to be crucified. This passive obedience is complimented by the active obedience of Christ in perfectly obeying the Law of God. This was so Jesus would be counted worthy of such a sacrifice and atonement.
Prior to arriving at Golgotha, Jesus would endure another flogging. While John does not record this event, Matthew and Mark do (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15). This second scourging would have left Jesus severely beaten, weakened and suffering a great loss of blood. Historians’ record that others condemned to be crucified often died following the Roman scourging and never made it to the place of execution. This was not the case with Jesus.
John’s Gospel records that Jesus went out, bearing his own cross. The cross Jesus would bear would not have been the entire object. Rather, Jesus would have carried only the horizontal cross beam. However, this bean would still have been heavy and Jesus, already severely weakened by the second beating, was unable to carry it the entire way. Therefore, the Roman soldiers seized and forcibly compelled Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry it (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26).
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Carrying His own cross, Jesus went out. These words fulfill two Old Testament symbols or types. Isaac carried his own wood for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:1–6) and the sin offering used to be taken outside the camp or city (cf. Heb. 13:11–13). So Jesus was made sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus arrived to the location called The Place of the Skull or Golgotha. Several reasons given for this title was (1) the rocky incline resembled a skull and (2) it was a place where people died. The Latin word for Golgotha, “Calvary,” also means skull or cranium (Luke 23:23).
John mentions that there were two others crucified with Jesus. John specifically states that Jesus’ cross was in the center of the three. These two criminals (Luke 23:32-33) or robbers (Matthew 27:44) are most likely mentioned to provide an understandable context when their legs were broken to hasten their deaths while Jesus’ were not because He had already died (cf. John 19:32–33). This is one evidence that Jesus in fact died and did not merely faint from exhaustion.
As we have previously noted, crucifixion was a horrible and shameful way to die. The crucified endured tremendous physical suffering not only from the prior beatings but also by the driving of the nails through their hands and feet. It was a slow, agonizing way to die.
However, while Jesus experienced the physical consequences of crucifixion He also endured the spiritual consequences as well. He suffered the wrath of God the Father on behalf of sinners.
One commentary states, “Yet, the horrible physical pain and shame of crucifixion paled in comparison to the additional suffering that Jesus alone experienced on His cross. He was crucified outside the city—outside the camp of God’s people, where the scapegoat was sent on Israel’s Day of Atonement, cut off from the Lord’s blessings (Lev. 16:27). Moreover, Jesus was crucified on the wood of a tree, and the Mosaic Law curses those who hang on a tree (Deut. 21:23). Jesus suffered outside the camp, cut off from God’s blessing, bearing the curse of divine wrath against the sin of His people so as to redeem them (Gal. 3:10–14; Heb. 13:12–13).”
At the cross, we not only witness the love of God but also the just wrath of God. God the Father poured out upon the sinless Son of God the wrath and punishment we deserved. This was in order for sinners like us to receive the grace of salvation which we do not deserve and also the mercy of salvation which is not to receive the judgment we do deserve.
Thank you Lord for your indescribable gift.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!