To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Never before or
since has so much been accomplished in a six-hour span. According to Mark’s Gospel (15:25,
34), Jesus’ ordeal on the cross lasted an agonizing 360 minutes.
For six hours, history and
eternity hung in the balance. The fate of humanity rested on the bloodied and
broken shoulders of the “king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29), as Jesus was
mockingly (yet presciently) labeled by his executors. As the final minutes of
his life ticked away, Jesus fulfilled his destiny.
Of every human who ever drew
breath on the planet, Jesus is the only One who did not deserve the fate that
met him. He alone did not deserve to die. Jesus was innocent of wrongdoing; he
was righteous in God’s eyes, making him the only One who could pay the price
for humanity’s sin. Only a perfect sacrifice would do.
For six hours, Jesus carried the
weight of humanity’s sin—past, present, and future. The apostle Paul taught
that Jesus effectively became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). According
to Christian theologians, Jesus bore the punishment we deserved in order to
rescue humanity from the consequences of sin.
The agony Jesus experienced defies
description. The physical effects of crucifixion—wrists and feet impaled by
spikes, bones shattered, and organs traumatized— are well documented. Beyond
the physical pain, though, Jesus experienced unprecedented emotional and
spiritual agony. In the midst of his suffering, he felt utterly abandoned—by
most of his followers and by God himself. Jesus experienced a sense of
aloneness that went to his very core.
During that six-hour span, Jesus
overturned sin and death. He righted every wrong since the beginning of
history. He bridged the gulf between God and his creation. He blazed a path to
eternal life for everyone who follows him.
This blog post has been adapted from the special-edition magazine Walking with Jesus, which is now available in stores wherever magazines are sold.