Summary: The cross is the measure of the magnitude of our sin.
The death of Jesus John 19:23-30
Jerry had been a bus driver in Toronto for 12 years and he really loved his job. He had the same route and met the same people almost everyday of the week. And then one day someone new got on and he was a huge man in his early thirties. He just looked at Jerry and said, “Big John doesn’t pay.” And he walked back and sat down.
Jerry didn’t want to make a scene so he decided to ignore it. The problem was, the same guy got on at the same stop the next day and he said, “Big John doesn’t pay” and he went to the back and sat down. This happened everyday for a week and Jerry got more and more frustrated and he decided he was going to do something about it. So, he joined a gym and started working out. Within about two and a half months he was ready. And then one morning he saw the big guy getting on the bus and he said the usual, “Big John doesn’t pay.” And Jerry stood up and said, “And why not?” And the big guy said, “Because big John has a bus pass.” You see, if you don’t know what’s behind a conversation it’s hard to understand what’s being said. And so, I want to give you a bit of background so you know what I’m talking about.
One of the most striking things about the four accounts of Jesus’ death in the Gospels is the absence of sensationalism. In other word’s there were no death defying acts of heroism, there were no great speeches to challenge or teach us, there were no moderators that stand off to the side and describe in vivid detail every little thing that happened and there wasn’t even a demonstration from heaven that showed us the horror of God or even the anger of the angels. All that’s here is the simple story of three men being crucified and the one in the middle is the Son of God.
And I think the physical suffering of Jesus was the worse kind of torture that any man has ever devised as a means of execution and as we look at this I don’t want to minimize His agony any more than I want to amplify what the writers are silent about, but at the same time, the four gospel accounts make me wonder why there isn’t more emphasis on the physical torture and the horrendous abuse that Jesus suffered?
And, we can assume that the physical torture that He went through was in the extreme because before this crowd even left for the place of crucifixion Jesus was beaten and tortured by the soldiers and we assume that He collapsed on the way to Calvary because a man named Simon of Cyrene was drafted into carrying His cross and yet, we’re not even told why he had to do this. So, the first question that comes to my mind is, why didn’t John or any of the other gospel writers tell us the specifics of what happened while Jesus was on the road to Calvary?
And I would suggest several answers as to why they didn’t tell us more. First, the physical suffering of Jesus was just a very small part of what He endured. After all, His physical pain was what men were able to impose on Him but I think the greatest suffering He had to go through was the spiritual agony He endured at the hand of God because that was when He who knew no sin became sin for us. I mean, He took on Himself sin and we have to consider that He was pure and sinless and the experience of His taking on sin must have been the most repulsive thing He ever could have ever gone through.
And yet, the scripture tells us that Jesus took our place in order to save us from everything we’ve consciously and unconsciously done to offend God and when He suffered and died He experienced the eternal wrath of God. And compared to this kind of suffering, His physical suffering would have been miniscule in comparison. And there are many who assume that the three hours of darkness that covered the world during the crucifixion as recorded in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 was God’s way of turning out the lights so we wouldn’t see what Jesus was going through. And I think it’s part of the goodness of God to keep us from knowing any more than we had to of Jesus’ suffering than He wanted us to know.
The second reason we weren’t told more was because there’s really no way that you or I could possibly comprehend even a little of God’s wrath. Many of us have tried to imagine what heaven will be like and yet, no matter how hard we try or how far we let our imaginations run wild, our minds always fall far short of grasping anything of the glory of heaven, because as 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”