The crucifixion

Golgotha, the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, was a hill beside a main road just outside Jerusalem. The procession arrived there about 9 a.m. (Matt 27:33; Mark 15:25). (It is difficult to calculate the exact times of all the incidents that took place on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. People in those days did not carry clocks, and the times given in the Gospels are only approximate. In some cases the writers may have estimated their times at different stages of the same event. Also, they may have used different methods of reckoning. Matthew, Mark and Luke usually count the hours from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but John seems to reckon differently.)

Great though Jesus’ suffering was, his agony of spirit was greater. He was bearing the burden of human sin, and thereby was conquering Satan and releasing people from the power of sin and death. He was determined to face death at its worst, fully conscious of what he was going through. Therefore, he refused the offer of drugged wine intended to deaden the pain and dull the mind (Matt 27:34).

Meanwhile, the four soldiers who carried out the crucifixion threw dice to decide how they would divide Jesus’ personal possessions. Above his head they attached a sign announcing the charge for which he was condemned, so that those who passed by could read it. As he hung there, Jesus had insults thrown at him by the common people, by members of the Sanhedrin (who came to see their sentence carried out), and by the two criminals crucified with him. All mocked with the same theme – he claimed to save others but he could not save himself. This was true, though not in the sense the mockers intended; for only by willingly sacrificing himself could he save guilty sinners (Matt 27:35-44; Luke 23:32-39; John 19:18-24). One of the criminals, realizing this, repented and experienced the saving power of Jesus that very day (Luke 23:40-43).

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