And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
This was the most important event in the history of the world, but at the time it was happening, no one seemed to appreciate its significance. Some counted Jesus as a criminal. Some gambled over His clothing. They stood watching and mocking, unbelieving, essentially defying God to His face. And yet there is His signature mercy as He asks the Father to forgive them. There is His signature love as He gives His life as an innocent sacrifice, dying for others who don’t love Him back. There is His strength as He bears the pain, His self-control as He refrains from retaliating, His humility as He endures the ridicule.
Some people there that day bewailed Jesus and His crucifixion. The injustice of it was apparent to some, but they didn’t understand how necessary it was. That still underscores the purpose of it, though, because we need a Savior, and there is no other way to be right with God, to be made righteous. It was unfair in the sense that Jesus was innocent but was killed as if He were guilty. But the sacrifice God required to atone for sin had to be sinless.
Others saw Jesus’ crucifixion as a well-deserved punishment. They desired to kill Jesus and see Him put to death, but that also underscores His purpose for going willingly to the cross. Jesus came to save sinners. He came because there is evil in the hearts of men that shakes a fist at God, that separates us from Him, and He wanted to save us from that and rescue us from the grip of sin.
Let us not miss the meaning of what happened that day, looking back from a vantage point 2,000 years in the future. Let’s not miss the significance of Jesus Christ—Son of God, spotless Lamb, God in flesh—there dying on a cross, counted as a sinner, shedding His blood, choosing the nails, offering His life for our sake. May we truly believe. May we understand what it was Jesus accomplished that day and look back with thankfulness that, through Christ, God met our greatest need.