William J. Stewart | Faces Surrounding Calvary
No series looking at the “Faces Surrounding Calvary” would be complete unless we discussed the Man who died there, Jesus Himself. The fame which follows the hill of Calvary would not exist were it not for Him, and the circumstances of that Friday. Let us take time to note some things about the Son of God.
THE ENTRY — Very seldom will we do something, knowing that it means harm to ourselves. Jesus was different. He entered the city of Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover, knowing full well that it was to be His last Passover. The Jerusalem crowd surrounded Him, praising Him. They sang songs of joy and chanted jubilant chants. “Blessed be the One that comes in the name of the Lord….”
THE SUPPER — Before sitting down to the feast, Jesus decided to leave His disciples one last lesson. A lesson on service. He girded His waist with a towel and one by one, He washed the feet of His disciples. The Master, washing the feet of the servants. The Boss, serving His employees. The Teacher, bending down before His students. The ultimate example of selflessness is found in Jesus.
THE GARDEN — Jesus went off by Himself. He prayed to the Father. Three times He prayed to the Father. As we have an account of His prayer, or at least part of, in John 17, we see His concern for those who would follow His cause. He thus prayed that they “…might all be one…” Death looming over Him, but hours away, and His prayer was for others. It is not surprising that He went to the Father three times that night in prayer. When trials persist, and grow on every side, we need to turn to our Father, “…for He cares for you.”
Finishing His prayers, Jesus called His disciples to come, that they might meet the betrayer. He did not run from those who would kill Him. The will of the Father was His agenda, and that would not be side-railed by anyone. Meeting Judas, Jesus was kissed on the cheek, taken by lawless hands and committed to custody.
THE TRIALS — Throughout time, as men have looked at the trial proceedings, heads have shook in awe and disbelief. First tried by the Sanhedrin, no witnesses were available. Thus, they brought forward false witnesses, bearing fabricated testimony. The proceedings took place throughout the night, judgment to be made at the crack of dawn. Being found guilty in this mock trial, He was led to Pilate.
Pilate gave Jesus a fair examination. Upon weighing the evidence he declared, “I find no fault in Him.” After being sent to Herod, and then returned again, Jesus stood trial before Pilate a second time. Again, Pilate declared, “I find no fault in Him.” The crowd which praised Him days before cried out for His blood. “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” Minutes later, Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, the cross piece of a crucifix tied to His back.
CRUCIFIED — Having reached the hill of Calvary, He who was and is perfect was nailed as a criminal. His hands and feet pierced with spikes. The cross was lifted up, the Saviour, crucified. We will never know the pain that was endured there. Crucifixion was to be the cruelest of deaths. It affected the circulation, respiration, nervous system, the entire body was subject to it’s effects. Each breath was a breath of pain, until the very last.
From great distances, a cry could be heard, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” His deep relationship with the Father was severed, even momentarily, due to our sin. Very shortly afterward, the Son of God would die.
AN EMPTY TOMB — Yearly thousands of people visit a tomb site outside Jerusalem. I’m sure that many of us have visited grave sites to pay our respects to the dead, but that is not the attraction to this grave. The attraction here is the living. Jesus was buried that Friday afternoon. On the third day, the very same grave which so silently held His body was empty.
The ladies came early on the first day of the week to pay respects to Jesus. An angel met them, “Why seek the living with the dead. He is not here. He is risen.” Consider the song writer’s words:
Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Saviour;
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.
Vainly they watched His bed, Jesus my Saviour;
Vainly they sealed the dead, Jesus my Lord.
Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Saviour;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.
Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose the victory from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign;
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ arose!