Standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ must have been one of the most moving experiences a person could ever have. The innocent one was dying for the guilty ones. Old Testament prophesies of a suffering messiah by whose stripes we could be healed was taking place before their very eyes.
At the cross the crowds and many of Jesus closest followers stood together. At one section were those still crying reviling messages of curses on him, while his mother, several women disciples and the apostles stood shocked, hurting and agonizing over what their savior and friend was going through.
Imagine what must have gone through their minds when Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Probably some thought, “What does he mean we don’t know what we are doing? We know we are crucifying a false prophet.” Others were likely moved by his asking for their forgiveness even when they were killing him. The ones who loved him most probably thought, “He never changes. Even in dying he is thinking of others and their forgiveness.”
At the cross Jesus would take care of his mother’s future. Most likely Joseph had died some years earlier and Mary had all grown children who were pursuing their own lives now. Jesus from the cross turned to his friend and disciple John and commissioned him to take care of his mother saying “Woman behold your son” and “Son behold your mother”. His love and loyalty for Mary had not slackened at all.
At the cross some natural events were happening that none of the people could comprehend. Darkness fell on them in the middle of the day and lasted for three hours. When the light again appeared someone came running to tell the crowd the veil of the temple had been torn in two from top to bottom. This was symbolizing that the way into the presence of God was being opened as never before. They also heard the agonizing cry of Jesus from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” All the Jews there would note that this was a quotation from David in Psalms 22:1. The point was being made in full power that he was dying as a sinner, taking on him the sins of the whole world for all time to pay the price for our guilt.
At the cross Jesus didn’t die alone. There were two thieves dying with him on crosses on either side of him. We don’t know their names but it is obvious they knew each other. At first these thieves got into the persecution of Jesus saying ugly things to him along with the mob there. But one of them was moved by something, we aren’t sure what to change this thinking altogether. He turned to Jesus saying, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He also spoke out to his fellow prisoner who continued in his hate speech toward Jesus. “Do you have no fear of God? We are being put to death because of evil we have done. But this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Jesus on the cross said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It wouldn’t lessen his pain but he could now face death knowing the future was bright. His whole life changed at the end of it.
At the cross there were soldiers gambling for his garments. But there was also the centurion who said, “Truly this was the son of God.”
At the cross the religious leaders among the Jews thought they had won and they wouldn’t have to deal with Jesus anymore. Things could go back like they were before. People would again come to them for education and help when they needed it. What a shock was waiting for them three days later when Jesus was raised from the dead. At the cross Satan thought he had beaten God by killing his son. But his victory was to be short lived.
At the cross Jesus knew he had completed the work God had given him. He said, “It is finished”. In saying this he was declaring to all that his mission had been fulfilled. Finally he spoke to God saying, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” and he died. Soldiers would come to break the legs of the ones on the cross to hasten their death, but when they came to Jesus he was already dead so they didn’t break his legs. Instead a soldier would drive a spear into his side and blood and water came out.
At the cross the world was changed. Instead of the nation of Israel being God’s special people the time was now here when God’s special people would be those who walked in the steps of Abraham’s faith. His church would be the chosen generation, royal priesthood, and holy nation, his own special people who would show his marvelous wisdom and power to all.
At the cross our debt to God was paid. He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us and took them out of the way nailing them to his cross (Colossians 2:14). At the cross he made the means for people from all different backgrounds to come together and be one sharing in his fellowship.
At the cross we can see the light of God’s love and grace. We can also see his righteousness. Sin is so horrible that it cost God and Christ dearly for those sins to be paid for. Today any of us can be forgiven based on what Jesus did that day on the cross. But there is a cross for us to bear as well if we wish to follow him. “If anyone desires to come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”