Near the Cross :: By Steven Pace

The four gospels tell us of several people who were at the cross with Jesus during those final agonizing hours. While we may tend to think of the many who abandoned the Lord during his time of suffering, there are several who were nearby that day. Each of them is unique and provides us with many valuable lessons. In this article, we will look at those who were near the cross of Jesus that day.

Remaining Faithful to the End

First, several women were present at Jesus’ crucifixion. In John 19:25, we learn that Jesus’ mother; his mother’s sister; Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were there. In Luke’s gospel, many unnamed women were present (see Luke 23:27, 49). Some of the women were those who had faithfully followed Jesus for quite some time (see Mark 15:40-41).

“Let us be faithful to an absent Lord. Let us live for Him who died for us.” [1]

“Considerations of personal safety drove the men into hiding. The devotion of the women put love to Christ above their own welfare. They were last at the cross and first at the tomb.” [2]

One lesson learned from these women is that they remained faithful to Jesus until the end. Unlike many others, they were faithful even when it was not easy. Following the Lord is not always easy, but we need to endeavor to remain faithful to Him until the end. [3]

Willing to Suffer Yet Innocent

Next, while all four gospels mention the soldiers at the cross, the synoptic gospels [4] each mention the centurion. In Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39, the centurion claims that Jesus was “the Son of God.” In Luke 23:47, it is worth noting that the centurion refers to Jesus as innocent. Innocent (dikaios) gives the meaning of righteous and just. Luke refers to the fact of Jesus’ innocence just as many others do, too. [5]

“The centurion’s declaration joins the chorus of voices like Pilate (ver. 14-15), Herod (ver. 11), and the thief (ver. 41).” [6]

One lesson learned from the centurion is that Jesus was truly innocent when suffering on the cross. When Jesus was crucified, he was taking our place as he died for your sins and mine. Like the centurion, we should praise God in response.

Saving Others Instead of Himself

Finally, another group of people that were near the cross were the Jewish religious leaders. In Matthew 27:41, the chief priests, scribes, and elders are described as mocking Jesus. Luke 23:35 indicates that they sneered at the Lord during his suffering. Additionally, in Mark 15:31, the leaders also mock Jesus, stating that “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.”

“This was true. He could not save others and at the same time save Himself. He gave Himself for others – this is the great principle of redemption.” [7]

This should remind us that the Lord needed to go to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Had he saved himself instead, we would still be dead in our trespasses in sins.

Enduring With Joy

As we conclude, it is good to remember that despite all that he endured, Jesus joyfully endured the cross for you and me. The author of Hebrews exhorts us to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Joy would follow the great suffering of the Lord Jesus, so let us rejoice in Him today. Let us also take the lessons from those who were near the cross that day to heart.

Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river. [8]


Dr. Steven F. Pace
Senior Pastor
Decatur Bible Church


[1] C.H. Mackintosh. Christian Trust, Vol. 32.
[2] The Believer’s Bible Commentary, pg. 1297.
[3] See verses on rewards of faithfulness; Ps 31:23; 101:6; Pr 12:22; 13:17; 28:20; Lu 19:17; Re 2:10.
[4] Synoptic means together or seen with a common view or same.
[5] See Isaiah 53:9, John 8:46, Hebrews 4:15, and 1 Peter 1:22 for examples.
[6] C. Marvin Pate. Moody Gospel Commentary, Luke, pg. 459.
[7] Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, pg. 231-232.
[8] Fanny Crosby (1869).