Summary: He brought forth a bride for the first Adam from his side; now He has done the same for the Last Adam
It has been said many times, that crucifixion must be the cruelest form of capital punishment ever devised by the mind of man.
In our culture of comfort, and in a time when the pendulum of justice has swung so far away from the protection of society and so far toward the protection of the criminal - when even the most humane modes of execution are decried as cruel and unjust, it is virtually impossible for us to get a mental picture of the true nature of crucifixion.
Once in a while someone will preach a sermon about the sufferings of Christ on the cross and they’ll list all of the symptoms of agony that would have presented themselves according to medical knowledge, and they’ll explain all about the breathing and the effects of the hot sun and the infection if the victim lived long enough, and the purpose of the vinegar and gall...
I think it will suffice here, for me to point out that according to historians it was not unusual for someone to last days and sometimes even weeks, before they finally expired; and the practice of the Romans was to leave the body there after death for the birds to feed on and the sun to rot, as a lesson and a warning for anyone else who may be tempted to defy Roman rule and law.
It was also common practice for the Romans to smash the lower leg bones of the victim with an iron bar; sometimes to heighten the torture just before death, but also to bring death on quicker if it was convenient for them, because the inability to push themselves to a more upright position hindered victims’ breathing and they would basically suffocate.
But God had decreed that the events of this day would be otherwise, and while man goes his own way, arrogantly making his own decisions and carrying out the evil intentions of his heart in defiance of God, STILL, God’s Word will be fulfilled and no man can hinder.
Friends, something we should get into our heads and always be cognizant of, is that when Jesus is present things change. We have a God of surprises. I personally think that He takes pleasure in surprising us. I think it brings joy to His own heart, to suddenly change our circumstances or bring a bit of comfort or blessing into our lives when we least expect it, just as it does an earthly father to come home with something new for his little one and watch their eyes light up and see them jump up and down with excitement over an unexpected gift.
But even more often, I think, His presence with us and His influence in and around us comes as a surprise simply by virtue of the fact that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. We are backwards. Therefore, God, simply acting according to His own nature, surprises us because our fallen nature expects in its ignorance, something quite different.
Jesus was full of surprises during His earthly ministry, wasn’t He? Every time the disciples indicated by word or action that He would act in a certain way or say a certain thing, they discovered, much to their frequent embarrassment, that they had misjudged Him altogether.
They thought He would want to consume a Samaritan village with fire out of heaven because of the people’s rejection of Him; instead, He rebuked them and reminded them that He came, not to destroy men, but to save them.
Then they thought He would go running to the side of His friend Lazarus, but He delayed for two days until Lazarus had died.
They admonished Him to stay away from Jerusalem for fear of the plotting Jews, but not only did He go there, He walked into the court of the Gentiles at the temple itself and made Himself very visible indeed, by purging it of the marketers.
They thought He would assemble an army, destroy Rome and make Himself king; instead, He went as a lamb to the slaughter and submitted to the cruelest hatred of the very ones He came to save.
Jesus is full of surprises, people. He provides our needs even though we sinfully neglect to go to Him in prayer asking. He often says ‘no’ when we do ask, because we ask for the wrong reasons or for the wrong things, but then says, ‘I have a better plan’, and later we are constrained to lift our hands and our hearts in praise for His wonderful love and mercy and goodness as we see Him do things in our undeserving lives that strengthen our faith and glorify His name.
And here, on this Passover eve, on a hill outside the walls of old Jerusalem, we see Him, already dead, His mangled and tortured body hanging limply on a Roman cross.