Dr. John Boyd, Holywood, N. Ireland
Even at Calvary the Lord's Passion continued. Pilate wrote a title to be placed on the cross. "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews", and in spite of the opposition of the chief priests demanding an alteration to this title, Pilate refused, John 19.17-22. Because this superscription was written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, the many people who were milling around out of so many different nationalities, blasphemed as they passed by. and beholding the spectacle, mocked and derided Him. To add insult to injury, the soldiers, learning of His thirst, offered Him vinegar to drink—a fiery experience that, so far from easing His thirst, would only add to the discomfort that the Suffering Saviour felt so keenly, due to His swollen, parched lips. The soldiers, priests and elders further taunted Him to come down from the cross, and deliver Himself from His awful plight. He was crucified between two malefactors to indicate the degradation that even in His last hours "he was numbered with the transgressors", Isa. 53. 12. What company the soldiers and chief priests considered fit for the Son of man, as they carried out the death sentence! These companions on Calvary at first even cast in His teeth the possibility that God had deserted Him, because He did not come down from the cross, Matt. 27. 42-44.
The Holy Spirit has summed up for us in Acts 3. 13-15 the true relationships of all those who were involved in this most complicated of judgments, in which so many individuals were implicated. "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son (properly, Servant) Jesus ; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you ; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses".
THE LORDS SUFFERINGS ON CALVARY
The Lord suffered many things on the cross. We can appreciate that He experienced at least three kinds of sufferings on Calvary.
His Physical Sufferings. These physical sufferings (some just prior to the cross) included : the crown of thorns, the scourging, the piercing of His hands and feet by the nails.
His Metaphorical Sufferings.
These are described in Psalm 22. 14-15; see also 2 Corinthians 13. 4.
His Voluntary Submission—He was poured out like water.
His Bodily Weakness—All His bones seemed out of joint; His heart was like wax melted in His inmost being ; He was so weak that He felt like a piece of broken pottery.
His Abasement—Like one whose life was dried up as dust.
His Mental Sufferings. His seven-fold soul anguish, as seen in Matthew 27. 34-50.
(1) The Anguish of His Temptation, v. 34, to by-pass the pain. But the Lord refrained ; He took no short cuts.
(2) The Anguish of His Degradation, v. 35; soldiers made sport, divided His garments, gambled for His vesture.
(3) The Anguish of His Restraint, v. 36; the soldiers guarded Him. He needed no surveillance, since He was doing the Father's will.
(4) The Anguish of His Accusation, v. 37 ; the insult of Pilate's title, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews", a usurper.
(5) The Anguish of is Association, v. 38 ; reckoned only as fit company for brigands, a great humiliation for the holy Son of God.
(6) The Anguish of His Reproach, v.v. 39-44; how they belittled Jesus:
(a) The Passers-by, vv. 39-40: they reviled Him—spake evil of Him ; wagged their heads, meaning this is what He deserves—but He was sinless; distorted His words, v. 40; denied His deity, if He were the Son of God, He would come down; what a taunt for the Omnipotent One!
(b) The Priests, vv. 41 -43 : mocking Him, they said. He saved others, Himself He cannot save – but the truth was that He came to save us.
(c) If He was the King of Israel, to come down—then they would believe that He was the Messiah. His trust in God was sneered at, v. 43, if He was the Son of God He should be delivered, but they did not believe He was the Son of God.
(d) The Malefactors, v. 44; both reproached Him, as did the people and rulers.
(7) The Anguish of the Darkness, vv. 45-46; the sword of Jehovah. The word "forsaken", Psa. 22. 1, sums up the sufferings of Psalm 22. It refers particularly to His mental sufferings—the anguish of His holy soul on Calvary as bearing sin. The wrath! The wrath! The awful wrath! That Jesus felt for me!
When bearing my sin's heavy load He died on Calvary.