I have often read the account of the crucifixion of Jesus and had contempt for the disciples for falling asleep, denying and betraying Jesus.
I have despaired at the blindness and hypocrisy of the religious leaders, so intent on his destruction and mockingly telling him to save himself from the cross.
I have been disgusted at the brutality and callousness of the Roman soldiers – beating, mocking and crucifying Jesus.
I have found myself getting angry at the crowds who call for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus – the same crowds that had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem as a King, only a few weeks before.
The reactions I have had towards the people involved in Jesus’ last few hours are from a deep sense of injustice. He didn’t deserve this. It wasn’t fair!
I like to think to myself:
“If I had been there I would have done everything I could to prevent Jesus from going to the cross. I would have stood up for him, spoken out, put myself on the line to protect him. He had done nothing wrong and it was the most monumental miscarriage of justice!”
However, when I consider my own sinfulness and selfishness I have to concede that I would be no better than those I have mentioned. I didn’t fall asleep in Jesus’ hour of greatest need, I didn’t stand at the foot of the cross and mock him, I didn’t shout from the crowd that he should be executed, I didn’t drive the nails into his hands – but, in the words of that great Hymn “It was my sin that held him there”.*
Even if I had managed to overcome my own desire for self preservation and hung on a cross next to Jesus for defending him, I could not have prevented it from happening. This was God’s rescue plan for humanity – a defining moment in history, and the very reason that Jesus had come to earth. The God of justice gave his Son over to death, and used an outrageous act of injustice to save us from death.
Isaiah 53:5 says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Written seven hundred years before Jesus’ crucifixion, it beautifully and painfully describes why Jesus went to the cross.
The sin of those involved in Jesus’ last hours is what held Him to that cross. He died for those that betrayed, denied, mocked, persecuted, flogged, insulted and crucified him. It is my sin that held him there – I am the nail. He died for me. He died to save me from the consequences of my sin. He died so that I could be free from the snare of Satan and have an eternal relationship with him. That absolutely blows my mind!
*Before the Throne of God Above – Charitie Bancroft, 1863. Music: William Bradbury, 1861.