The King is Dead
Jesus has been betrayed by Judas, arrested, and has been accused of blasphemy by pre-dawn, early morning kangaroo court of the Jewish religious leaders. They accuse him, charge him, find him guilty, and send him to Pilate. Jesus finds himself standing in front of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor that oversees the Jews. He allows them to have religious freedom as long as they pay their taxes to Rome. However, today’s he’s woken abruptly by the Pharisees and an angry mob.
Pilate looks at his servants and asks what’s going on outside. From what they can tell, the Jews are angry and ready to have someone executed. Pilate walks out from his chambers and sees Jesus. His face is bruised from the punches and abuse, and there’s a cut on his lip. His hands are tied behind his back, and he stands silently before Pilate.
Pilate approaches Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews? Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” (Mark 27:11-12)
“Blasphemy!” cry the pharisees.
“How can this man be God?!” shout the scribes.
“Crucify him!” scream the priests.
Pilate is confused. He’s only heard good things about Jesus, yet the Jewish leaders demand his execution. Something isn’t right, something is off. Does Pilate go with his gut and say no? There may be riots if he does. Or, does he allow this innocent man to be killed in order to appease the mob?
Pilate stands before the mob and asks, “What about Barabbas?”
Each year during this week, Rome allowed the Jews to pick one prisoner to be released. The people cry, beg, and plead for Barrabas to be released.
“Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!” they shout. Pilate agrees, and Barrabas walks free.
“Very well, he will be crucified”, says Pilate.
There are no more palm branches being laid at his feet. No one sings Hosanna. Instead the crowd roars, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
As Jesus is sentenced to death, Judas jumps from a tree with a rope tied around his neck. The man that betrayed The King for thirty pieces of silver, now hangs eight feet in the air, lifeless.
The King, God’s holy Son, Jesus, has just been traded for a terrorist. Pilate can’t understand why all of this is happening and symbolically washes his hands clean of this mess. Jesus stands silently, and like a lamb sent to be slaughtered, he is sentenced to die.
For a second, close your eyes. Imagine Jesus walking through the Roman courts to be beaten. Watch the man that healed the blind, have his eyes beaten shut. See the hands that healed the sick, tremble in pain. Look at the feet that walked on water, take a step closer to death. Jesus enters a large empty courtyard with a wooden stump in the middle. It’s the scourging courtyard. Jesus’ hands are tied down, and the Roman soldiers are given the command to begin.
Sticks with metal studs on the ends are brought out. These aren’t for the scourging. These are to soften Jesus’ flesh for the true beating. “Hit!” commands a Roman officer. “Hit!” he shouts again. Blow after blow, swing after swing, the soldiers tenderize Jesus’ body for what is next.
Then, the whips are brought out. These aren’t ordinary whips. These have nine lashes lined with sharp pieces of metal and glass. The officer’s voice shouts, “Hit!”
Skin is ripped apart. Again, “Hit!”
Blood goes flying through the air.
Ribs are broken.
Pieces of bone are torn from Jesus’ body.
Listen to the sound of whip. Hear Jesus’ breathing. Look the pharisees in the eyes as they smile with a smirk of satisfaction. This is their plan finally being played out.
Jesus lays there on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Every inch of his skin has been ripped open. The scourging ends, but his suffering is far from over. A crown of thorns is driven into Jesus’ skull. A robe of mockery is thrown on his back and two pieces of tree trunks are thrown at his feet. “Pick up your cross, Jesus”, they laugh.
Ordinary men would have been dead by now. Most wouldn’t have survived the scourging, but not The King. Jesus takes up his 150 pound cross on his shoulder, and begins his walk up to the place called Golgotha.
As he walks, he’s mocked, ridiculed, and cursed at. People spat in his face. “This is God?!” they mock. Stones are thrown at him. Punches and kicks are thrown. It’s an agonizing journey until finally, they reach the top of that hill just outside the city gates.. Exhausted, Jesus collapses on the dirt. His torn flesh burns like wildfire.
The soldiers throw his body on the cross and bring out three long, heavy, railroad-like spikes, one for each hand, and one for his feet. Jesus, barely conscious screams out in pain. The nails crush through his bones and his nerves go into shock.
They stand the tree trunk up and place into a concrete hole in the ground. Jesus is now hanging on the cross.
Do you see his mother there? Can you see the tears flow down Mary’s face as she watches? Her baby boy. Her son is being crushed before her very eyes. Feel the pain in her heart. She's kissed scrapes, scratches and bruises away since he was a baby. Not this time.
Hours pass. Jesus is still alive. He mumbles prayers to the Father. His prayers aren’t to take him down. They’re not commands for angels to come rescue him. The King is praying over the very ones who drove the nails through his hands. He’s praying for his enemies. He’s praying for those who will believe in him. He’s praying over you, and he’s praying over me.
It’s almost time. His lungs are filling up with fluid. Breathing has almost become impossible. The wrath of God is pouring on to Jesus.
All the sin of the world is being laid on him, driving him deeper into the nails. Every once of pain. Every broken relationship. Abandonment, neglect, fear, pain, sorrow, anguish, all being absorbed by Jesus. It’s the darkest moment in history, and The King is facing it alone.
Jesus’ heart begins to race. He feels something he’s never felt before. Is that the Father leaving? Where is he going? Why is he turning away from Jesus?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he cries out.God’s infinite, holy wrath, has been placed completely on his Son. This is it, this is the final moment of the day.
With every last drop of strength left in his body, he lifts himself up, and with tears in his eyes he says, “It is finished”.
The King is dead.
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