Going into this Easter season, I wanted to spend time really digging deep into the suffering Jesus endured for me in the moments leading up to his death, burial, and resurrection. After studying the four different eye witness accounts of this, I find myself more convicted, more in love, and more motivated than ever before. I pray it impacts you as well.
What Jesus endured going to the cross for me:
- One of His very closest betrayed Him. (Matthew 26:14, 48-50) (Mark 14:44-45) (Luke 22:48) (John 18:5)
- A group of His closest friends fail Him. (Matthew 26:31, 56) (Mark 14:37-41, 50) (Luke 22:45-46)
- Another one of His closest friends denies even knowing Him, not once, but three times. (Matthew 26:34, 69-75) (Mark 14:68, 70-72) (Luke 22:56-60) (John 18:25-27)
- His soul was in agony. (Matthew 26:37) (Mark 14:34-36) (Luke 22:44)
- He denied the ability to be sent more than “twelve legions of angels” as He was being arrested. (Matthew 26:53)
- The religious leaders created false testimony against Him. (Matthew 26:59-60, 65) (Mark 14:55-56)
- In the midst of being falsely accused, instead of defending Himself, Jesus remained silent. (Matthew 26:63, 27:12) (Mark 14:60-61, 15:3-5) (Luke 23:9-10) (John 19:9)
- He was “scourged”. Scourged was a form of punishment used by the Romans that involved beating someone with multiple strands containing glass and metal. (Matthew 27:26) (Mark 15:15)
- He was stripped of His clothes. (Matthew 27:28) (Mark 15:20)
- His persecutors stuck a crown of thorns on His head. (Matthew 27:29) (Mark 15:17) (John 19:2)
- They then mocked Him not only by placing the crown on His head but by sarcastically teasing that He was the King, since this is what He claimed. (Matthew 27:29) (Mark 15:18) (Luke 22:63-65, 23:11) (John 19:2-3)
- They spit on Him. (Matthew 27:30) (Mark 14:65, 15:19)
- They struck Him. (Matthew 27:30) (Mark 14:65, 15:19) (Luke 22:64) (John 19:1,3)
As Jesus was carrying His cross towards Golgotha, His body was so weak and broken they asked a man named Simon to carry it. I wonder who this man was. What his story is. Where he came from. Why was he the one that was chosen to carry the cross of Jesus?
Three out of four gospel accounts mention this guy, and in each account, he’s only acknowledged in one verse. (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26). The only verse penned by Matthew and Mark in regards to him describes his taking of the cross as more of an inconvenient command than anything else. They state that those in charge actually “compelled this man to carry his cross”. Luke says they “seized” him and “laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus”. And I can’t help but think that maybe Simon was a little bit like me. That it was honestly an internal struggle for him to pick up the cross of Jesus and carry it.
I’d like to think that in that moment, looking Jesus in the face as He willingly walked Himself towards the death He was dying for me, I would be bent down and weepy and full of a deep, broken, worshipful surrender. But the reality is, He Himself has commanded me to pick up my cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), and sometimes I struggle with it. I struggle because it’s too heavy. Maybe that’s why Simon was hesitant – he didn’t want to deal with the weight of it all. It was a heavy load and a long journey and it’d be much easier to cheer Jesus on from the sidelines instead of getting involved in the process. I don’t think it’s ironic that 10 chapters prior to Matthew’s account of Jesus going to the cross and His crucifixion process, Matthew gave an account of Jesus foretelling it all. And in that foretelling, also saying that we would have to do the same.
So, I take myself to those moments – the betrayal of those who meant the most, humble silence that came after false accusations, the metal and glass ripping gaping wounds deep into the flesh of His back, the embarrassment endured and profound self-control involved as they belittled the King of the universe. He could’ve shown them in an instant. But He didn’t. He let them spit in His face and strike Him on the head instead. All of this, every single moment, just for me. Every single moment leading up to the nails being driven through Him, I was the one on His mind. His hanging there suffocating just so He could breathe life into me, that’s what motivated Him. The thought of eternity spent with me and the pain of eternally being apart from me, that’s what kept Him going. It’s this love that propels me to love Him and to pick up my cross.
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” Mark 15:37
This dying breath, it brought me life.
And I will never be able to repay Him for all that He willingly chose to endure for me.