16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Death had to be confronted, conquered, walked-through not around. Death loomed on the horizon of Jesus’ life from the moment he entered that stable in Bethlehem. Healing, teaching, praying, delivering—yet never losing sight of the cross and the grave. The Father’s justice demanded it; the Father’s mercy provided for it. The fruit of sin is always the removal of life, and it was Jesus who was sent to remove sin and offer the fruit of life.
The mocking, flogging, beating, crucifying—the one who endured it was the only one in all of history who could have righteously opted-out under the banner of innocence. The willing (although difficult) surrender of the will of the Son to the full penalty of sin reveals a love worthy of our whole life. Today Jesus says “don’t just cheer me, join me.” O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross, bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.
Jesus, the depth of your sacrifice takes my breath away—that you who formed the hands of man would submit yourself to blow after blow after blow. What humility, what mercy. Lord, I’m more aware than ever that I am completely powerless to confront sin in my own strength. As I turn my eyes to the cross today, I gaze in worship upon the only hope for overcoming evil – in my own heart and in this world. You are the Great Redeemer. Amen.