February 20
Death of Jesus
Matthew 27:38-54

KEY VERSE: "Surely He was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:54b

Have you ever walked up the hill upon which our Lord Jesus was crucified? No, I am not asking if you have been to Jerusalem. I am asking if you have ever taken the time to walk beneath the cross of Jesus in your mind and heart.

You need to do that. You need to walk through the painful scenes of that last week of our Lord's life. You need to watch the soldiers push Jesus around, ridiculing Him, humiliating Him, slapping Him in the face, treating Him far worse than you would treat a dog.

You need to watch cowardly Pilate washing His hands of the whole affair, claiming that the blood of Jesus was on the hands of others. What a pitiful attempt to show himself an innocent man when he had it within his power to make a manly decision.

Don't turn away, now; watch those cruel soldiers begin the gruesome scourging. Listen as the leather thongs of the whip, filled with pieces of bone and lead, tear into the flesh of our Lord. So terrible is this whipping that many a man could not even walk after this awful beating. Some even died on the spot.

You winced, didn't you, as the rough soldiers stripped the clothes off Jesus, laughing cruelly and mocking Him as they put a scarlet robe on Him as a joke. Some kind of "king" you are, they hissed. Then when they shove that crown of vicious thorns down upon His head, you shudder to think how it must feel. The pain, oh, the pain!

There stands before you now, weak and bleeding, the Prince of glory, and why? Paul would explain later that He was humbling Himself and becoming obedient even unto death upon the cross - for your sins! Yes, yours!

But His ordeal is not over. His suffering, His humiliation will continue for hours, and you watch as they lead Him, actually drag Him, up the hill to nail Him to an ugly cross. You stand there and listen and watch as His blood runs red down His body, and the cross, until it spills upon the ground.

You can hardly believe the taunting of the merciless soldiers. To them, He is just another criminal. Crucifying Him is all in a day's work for them. They don't have a clue as to His identity.

You hear Him speak words you can hardly believe. "Forgive them," He cries to His Father. How on earth could one enduring such agony pray such a prayer? But you know what He says and you can never forget His words.

You want His anguish to end. Oh, God, He has suffered enough! Then, not in whispered tones but with a shout, you hear Him say "It is finished" and "Into your hands I commit my spirit." You hear Him gasp His last breath. It is over, thank God.

Not all of the soldiers mocked Jesus. One, a Roman centurion, did not. In the silence that follows the death of Jesus, you hear the Centurion cry, as he falls to his knees, "Surely He was the Son of God!"

Now you fall on your knees, for you too have heard and seen the Savior die for you. He loved you that much. Enough to suffer and die for you, that you, a sinner, might be saved and receive the gift of eternal life.

Now, it is time for you to walk down from Calvary's hill and begin living like your Lord wants you to live, like one of His disciples.

That's the least you can do after all He has done for you!