Jesus’ journey to the cross began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Realizing His time was coming to pay the price for our sins, He took His disciples into the garden to pray (Mark 14:32). Because of what He knew was coming, Jesus wept openly as He prayed so hard His tears became as drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Under periods of extreme stress, the capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture creating this effect. Can you imagine the stress Jesus was experiencing knowing He was about to be brutally murdered?
While Jesus prayed to the Father, the disciples He’d asked to keep watch over Him while He did so slept. They apparently didn’t realize the significance of what was about to happen or surely they would’ve been on their knees nearby praying on His behalf. Isn’t it interesting Jesus’ best friends were sleeping in His darkest hour? Although the disciples were nearby, He must have felt terribly alone in the garden.
After a period of prayer, Jesus went to the disciples, awakened them and told them He was about to be betrayed. Moments later, Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, arrived to betray Him with a kiss. The kiss was the method of identification used by Judas so Christ’s enemies could select Him from among the group.
Luke 22:48: “Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”
Can you imagine the hurt Jesus must have felt realizing He’d been betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, the price Judas was paid to deliver Jesus unto His enemies?
After His capture, Jesus was brought before the High Priest. While being interrogated, Jesus started to be abused as seen in Matthew 26:67. He was spat upon, slapped, and mocked. All of these things bore both physical and emotional pain. During one of the beatings at that location, they blindfolded Jesus and slapped Him, asking Him to prophesy as to which one of them was going to hit Him next (Matthew 26:28). Jesus could’ve spoken a word and freed Himself from their custody, but He instead chose to suffer knowing more intense pain was coming. Jesus spent the night with these tormentors and likely had no sleep at all.
Jesus was undoubtedly tired, bruised, battered and dehydrated when the next morning He was taken to the office of Pontius Pilate—the Roman in charge of the region. Pilate questioned Jesus but did no harm to Him initially. Rather than punish Him, he elected to send Him to King Herod, the local government’s ruler.
Upon Jesus’ arrival, Herod was pleased to see Him because he’d heard much of Him and hoped to see some miracle performed by Him (Luke 23:8). Under questioning from Herod, Jesus remained silent so Herod, being unable to break Jesus’ will or get any harmful information to use against Him, had Him arrayed in a fine robe mocking His status as king of the Jews and sent Him back to Pilate.
Undoubtedly, Pilate must’ve been amazed to see Jesus returning to him for punishment of crimes that Pilate didn’t think were worthy of punishment. Frustrated, Pilate elected to have Jesus chastised and released upon the second visit, but Jesus’ captors asked for Pilate to release Barabbas, a murderer, in accordance with a tradition concerning a feast that was taking place at the time.
Pilate, wanting no part of harming Jesus, reasoned with them, but they yelled, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” In Luke 23:22 Pilate responded, “Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.”
In spite of his personal objections, Pilate eventually surrendered to their wishes, ordered Jesus killed, and released the murderer Barabbas. Jesus was betrayed by His own people to the extent they begged for the release of a murderer to insure He would be killed. Can you imagine the pain He felt inside? In spite of His pain, He endured for our sake!
The administration of Jesus’ execution began when His hands were tied above His head to begin his scourging. He was stripped of His clothing then whipped with a whip which likely had either bone or lead fragments in the end of it. Jesus legs, back and shoulders were undoubtedly beaten until ribbons of His flesh hung down from the repeated blows. Blood was assuredly pouring from His wounds yet no one comforted Him.
Instead they mocked Him by dressing Him in purple (a color signifying royalty) and placed a crown of thorns upon His head (Mark 15:17). Using a reed, they struck him in the head driving the thorns into His scalp then mockingly kneeled before Him as though to worship Him (Mark 15:19). After completing this vicious episode, the soldiers removed the purple from Jesus and dressed Him in His own clothes in preparation for Him to be taken to the hill called Golgotha to be placed on the cross.
As a result of the terrible beatings He had received, Jesus struggled to remain upright as the soldiers made Him carry the cross He was to be nailed to toward Golgotha. Simon, a man from Cyrene, eventually had to carry Jesus’ cross for Him due to Jesus’ weakness. Jesus was already in terrible physical condition from his numerous injuries, but He pressed onward for all of us.
Once He struggled to His destination, He was thrown down onto the cross and His wrists were bound. A Roman soldier drove a nail through one wrist and then the other. Jesus’ feet were crossed and a nail driven through each of them. As the cross was lifted into position, the weight of Jesus’ body started pulling against the nails. When He used His arms to ease the pain to His feet, His wrists bore the majority of the pain. When the pain to His arms became too great, He had to press upward with his legs creating more pain to the arches of His feet where He was nailed to the cross.
While He suffered, the Romans placed a sign above Him which read:
“Here is the king of the Jews.”
To add to Jesus’ humiliation, they hung Him between two thieves. As He hung there in agonizing pain, soldiers gambled for His clothing. Passers-by mocked Him, and the priests said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Matthew 27:43). If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, “I am the Son of God.” Here we see Jesus was challenged to prove Himself to be the Son of God as He neared death. For our sakes, Jesus didn’t reveal Himself. Why?
In the Old Testament, our Father in heaven established death as the punishment for sin. This is why we see the sacrificial death of animals used as an atonement for sin in ancient Jewish religious traditions documented in the Old Testament. It is also why we see Jesus referred to in the Bible as the Lamb of God. Jesus came to surrender Himself to death on the cross so none of us would have to experience eternal separation from God as a result of our sinful nature. Jesus knew, while He was hanging on the cross, He had to complete His mission and die for us.
As Jesus neared death, His suffering was so intense He felt He had been forsaken by the Father. The Bible tells us in John 1:1:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was God” (John 1:14).
Imagine if you can for a moment how badly Jesus, who’d been at the side of the Father throughout all eternity prior to mankind’s creation, even to the point of His crucifixion, must’ve felt when He said as seen in Matthew 27:46:
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
For the first time in the history of eternity, Jesus felt separated from the Father. Jesus, having taken the sin of the whole world upon Himself on the cross, knew for the first time the anguish sin brings. This pain was likely worse for Jesus than all the other pains combined. He had lost contact with the Father.
Finally, Jesus cried out to the Father with one final burst of energy, “It is finished!” He died at that moment and, in doing so, paid the price in full for all the sins we’ll ever commit.
The tremendous suffering and agony Jesus endured for us should never be forgotten, taken lightly, or ignored. Having reviewed the events of His death, how can we not worship Him? There is no name under heaven more precious than the name of Jesus. Through His shed blood and death at Calvary, we’ve all been given the right to be called the sons and daughters of God. All He asks in return for the terrible suffering that He endured on the cross is for us to believe in Him!
John 3:16-17: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Galatians 3:26: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
God required a price to be paid for sin. Jesus paid it for each and every one of us through His journey to the cross. His sacrifice made on behalf of all of us is why those of us who believe in Him will someday be gathered around His throne in heaven as seen in Revelation 7:12 saying, “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
If you have never asked the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and be your Savior, I pray you’ll do so this day.
If you’re already a Christian, I hope you’ll take a moment, having reflected on Jesus’ journey to the cross and His sacrifice made on our behalf, to praise Him!