“Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS.”—Mark 15:21–26 (NKJV)
Exaggeration is something we’re often guilty of in life. We exaggerate how good something tastes, how cold we are, how long we wait in a line, and the list goes on and on. But it’s no exaggeration to say we’re now considering the most important moment in all of human history. The sinless Son of God is being led to the instrument that will serve to satisfy the righteous wrath of God towards the sinfulness of all mankind. The cross is the pivotal point where a rebellious creation is reconciled to its Creator. So as we approach it, we should carefully consider the importance of each detail God’s Word gives to us.
The first detail we need to see is that a man named Simon was ordered by the Roman soldiers to help carry Christ’s cross to its final destination. When the condemned were unable to physically carry their own cross, a bystander was often enlisted to help. But consider the spiritual significance. Here was a normal person just like us, yet his path converged with Christ’s on the way to His crucifixion. This reminds us the way of the cross is for all of us—normal people who have heard the call to come alongside and witness the Lord’s suffering for our sin. But there’s more detail to see.
The very site of this momentous event was imbued with death. A rocky outcropping on the outskirts of Jerusalem resembling a skull, Golgotha was where people went to die. How many others had breathed their last breath and seen their last glimpse of earthly light here? We don’t know for certain, but we do know that of all places in the universe, this is where the Author of Life would willingly die. He was offered a narcotic drink that would initially satiate His thirst and dull His pain, but He refused it as a declaration that He wouldn’t circumvent the suffering appointed to Him. There would be no short cuts here!
Having been stripped of all His clothes, the executing soldiers start casting lots and dividing them among themselves. Has there ever been a more profound contrast between the heart of man and the heart of God? It’s in mankind’s nature to selfishly take, but it’s God’s nature to selflessly give. And giving His life is precisely what the Lord is doing as man takes the very clothes off His body! It’s a powerful commentary on God and the fallen race He came to rescue from itself.
And over this entire scene, this twisted and contorted mess of misery, hangs a proclamation “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Despite all that is wrong here, what ultimately matters most is who Jesus is. Because of Him, everything wrong would be made right. That’s what the cross is—it’s where all that’s wrong can be made right, including us as we consider these details.
Pause: What do the details of the cross reveal to us?
Practice: Reflect on a time when the cross of Christ has made something wrong in your life right.
Pray: Lord, open my heart and mind to apprehend all that You’ve accomplished for me through the cross! Amen.