The scene is Calvary… just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Passover is soon to commence. Jesus, Redeemer of the World, hangs upon the cross. How is this Man… this Son of God… this Messiah impacting the lives of the townspeople? And how is He touching the lives of people today?

“Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” – Mark 15:32

The Jewish leaders are the spiritually proud. They have heard the “blasphemy” of Jesus. They disbelieve His claims of messiahship. Together, they heap scorn upon this One who saves others, yet cannot seem to save Himself. Their pride blocks any chance of belief.

   Today, some refuse to believe in Jesus. In their pride, they stumble on the Rock. They discredit His teachings, His miracles, His healings, His divinity. They see Him merely as a man and nothing more.

“Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if You are the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:40

The crowds scornfully hurl insults at Jesus while He hangs on the cross. Through the week, their adoring cries of “Hosanna” turn to hostile shouts of “Crucify Him”. They laugh at the sign that reads “THE KING OF THE JEWS”. To them, Jesus is just another criminal who is facing due punishment for His alleged “crimes”. Their lives remain unchanged.

⇒   Today, some demand signs and wonders to believe. They insist on concrete evidence for Jesus, when even that would not be enough for them to believe. They lean on their own rational thinking rather than stepping out with spiritual faith.

‘Hail, King of the Jews!” – Matthew 27:29

The Roman soldiers assault and mistreat Jesus. They cast lots for His few pieces of clothing. They mock His kingship by dressing Him in a purple robe with a crown of thorns and bowing down before Him. They walk away from their disparaging game unaffected.

⇒   Today, some look down on those who follow Jesus. They ridicule and condemn the heartfelt beliefs of Christians. They are swayed and deceived by the world’s values and beliefs. 

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” – Luke 23:42

Two criminals hang on crosses beside Jesus, facing the same gruesome death. They watch this Man in His last hours. At first, they join with the soldiers in heaping insults on Him. Then one sees something different in His way of handling the cruel punishment. For this Man has done no crime as they have. He manifests a peace in His suffering. In Jesus, this criminal sees hope and believes.

⇒   Today, some who are seekers find in Jesus the One for whom they have searched. He is the One in whom they place their faith. He is the answer to the emptiness in their hearts, the futility of their lives.

“Surely He was the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:54

A centurion is guarding the men on the crosses. Just as Jesus breathes His last breath, a violent earthquake shakes the ground, splitting open rocks and tombs. This guard watches these happenings and recognizes that this Man is the long-awaited Messiah. He praises God and believes.

⇒   Today, some come to faith in Christ quite unexpectedly. Something happens that shakes their world and brings them to belief. They discover in Jesus the way to a victorious life.

“This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” – Matthew 26:31

The apostles scatter in fear… deserting their Shepherd, the One who has been so loyal to them. He has warned them of what would come… what He would endure at the hands of His adversaries. Yet they fail to grasp its significance. Their faith is shaken, yet still they cling to hope.

⇒   Today, some follow Jesus in fair weather. Yet when storms roll into their lives, they forget the faithfulness of their Savior and succumb to fear. They turn to the world and themselves instead of turning to the One who promises to never leave or forsake them.

“All those who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” – Luke 23:49

The women sit devotedly at the foot of the cross. They are saddened as they watch their Lord in such agony. They wonder why He must die… why He would ever leave them. No one else offers them such compassion, mercy and hope. Their faith falters yet does not fail.

⇒   Today, some follow Jesus earnestly. Yet when times get tough, they presume Jesus has abandoned them. They are disheartened, forgetting His love and undying loyalty. They fail to remember that He is the One with the power to save.

“Jesus… said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’” – John 19:26-27

John is the only apostle who stays by the side of Jesus until the end. He listens to His last words while on the cross. The Lord places His mother Mary into John’s care, trusting him to provide for her needs. John’s faith holds strong.

⇒   Today, some abide closely with Jesus, staying the course and bearing their cross. They never stray far from their Shepherd. They accept the challenges and trials of a life following their Savior. Their faith never wavers.

“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother Mary.” – John 19:25

Mary sits with the women at the cross, remembering the words of the angel Gabriel who first told her of her Son Jesus and the gravity of His earthly mission. These words that she treasures in her heart comfort and give her peace in this difficult time.

⇒   Today, some are devoted disciples of Jesus who believe His promises. They treasure His words in Scripture, holding firmly to their faith. They seek the Lord’s comfort and peace in trying times.

“There came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.” – Matthew 27:57

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Council, is a secret disciple of Jesus. He has not been complicit in the plot against the Messiah’s life. He boldly asks Pilate for Jesus’ body. After preparing Him for burial, He places Him in a tomb, rolling a stone across the entrance. Despite Joseph’s fear of the Jewish leaders’ backlash, he steps forward with courageous faith.

⇒   Today, some are willing to risk reputation and status to follow Jesus. They endure rejection and exclusion from friends and family. They persevere in times of opposition with resilient faith.

Lord, Thank You that You are our risen Lord. Touch our lives with Your shepherding presence. You are the One for whom we have searched. Grace us with faith to follow You unwaveringly. Favor us with Your comfort in trying times. Keep us ever persevering on the path You set before us. Let nothing deter us from Your mission for our lives. Amen.