though Son of God,
though a Galilean benefactor,
though a teacher of wisdom,
though a prophet,
though compassionate and loving,
though a good man,
though a favorite of the people,
though steeped in Israel’s scriptures,
though aware of Israel’s traditions,
though hailed by crowds,
though accompanied by followers,
though in the City of David,
though staring at the seat of justice in Jerusalem,
though examined by the highest of authorities,
though capable of giving profound answers to life’s questions,
though responding to unjust accusations with grace,
though … though … though … all these things and many more…
… Was condemned to capital punishment and unjustly and publicly crucified at Golgotha. He was like an innocent lamb led to a slaughter, and the prophet Isaiah predicted that very thing about the Messiah (Isaiah 52–53). As the sun was eclipsed, so was justice. The darkness of the scene was the darkness of injustice. They chose to put him away, this Lamb of God, with the ultimate punishment: crucifixion.
Crucifixion is the ultimate obscenity.
Crucifixion is the ultimate deterrent.
Crucifixion involves stripping the victim in order to humiliate.
Crucifixion means a body would be picked apart by birds of prey.
Crucifixion sates the sadistic desires of the strong.
Crucifixion is reserved for vile criminals.
Crucifixion is synonymous with shame.
Crucifixion is synonymous with suffocation.
Crucifixion gives a lasting commentary on a person’s life.
Crucifixion means a person is cursed by God.
Those who were lined up for the kingdom dream of Jesus since his days in Galilee could not believe what happened at Golgotha. In Galilee he was a Jewish prophet who convinced many that the kingdom of God was already at work. In Galilee he performed deeds that showed he was in tune with God. In Galilee he opened up the Kingdom.Life for thousands. In Galilee he created tables of fellowship and tables of joy. In Galilee the most ostracized persons in society found their way to God. In Galilee people sensed the kingdom of God was on the horizon and coming their way.
But in Golgotha everything was destroyed. Or so it looked like everything was destroyed. Three days later Jesus was raised, and the cross morphed from an instrument of injustice into the place of grace. The cross, where Jesus bore the pain and sins of others, became both a place of redemptive power and a model for discipleship. Our sins morph into his, our death morphs into his, and our stories morph into his. And at the very same time his righteousness morphs into ours, his life morphs into ours, and his story morphs into our story.