The Scene of the Cross of Calvary - Part 2
John Tinkler, Red Row, Morpeth, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The sufferings on the cross
In chapter 53, Isaiah points out: in verses 1 to 3, who suffered; in verses 4 to 6, why He suffered; in verses 7 to 9 how He suffered; and, in verses 10 to 12, after He suffered. It is interesting that John never mentions suffering. Luke, as a medical man, gives no details of His actual crucifixion.
One cannot help but wonder what went through Isaiah’s mind when he was led to write of the sufferings of the Messiah. This was even something the Eunuch in Acts chapter 8 verse 34 thought unusual, by asking ‘of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself or of some other man?’ Philip opened his mouth and spoke from the same scripture, of the Lord. Surely the hymn writer has summed it up in lovely language, ‘what He endured no tongue can tell, to save our souls from death and hell’.1
The soldiers and their conduct
At the crucifixion, the soldiers were permitted to share the personal effects of the crucified. Psalm 22 verse 18 was to be fulfilled, ‘They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture’. It is John, in chapter 19 verse 23, who states, ‘Now the coat . . .’. The soldiers were unaware that they were fulfilling scripture. The garment became the property of four unnamed soldiers.
We also have recorded for us the confession of the centurion, ‘Certainly this was a righteous man’, Luke 23. 47. A hardened soldier making such a statement does not make him a believer, but that he saw and heard things that day that were unlike other crucifixions where he heard oaths and swearing. He ‘glorified God’ – an expression so often used in Luke’s Gospel. However, from Acts chapter 10, let us remember that God can save centurions!
The spear-pierced side and its cause
It is John alone in chapter 19 and verse 34 who records this event. The soldiers did not do what they were commanded to do – break the legs – but one did something he was not supposed to do – pierce the Saviour’s side. Was it frustration? It was fulfilling scripture, Zech. 12. 10. Pilate too in his actions fulfilled three prophecies, Zech. 3. 8; 6. 12; 9. 9. By the act of this soldier ‘blood and water’ came out of the Lord’s side, being a true manifestation that the Lord had died.
The Saviour dismisses His spirit
The Lord had said in His life, ‘No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself’, speaking of His death, John 10. 18. Mark chapter 15 verse 37 is the reality – He ‘gave up the ghost’. The Lord cried with a loud voice. He, being in complete control of His faculties, yielded up His spirit, showing that He was different from all men.
Salvation’s work completed
Hebrews chapter 10 verse 12 informs us, ‘But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever’. The work of Christ never needs to be repeated. If we take away the death of Christ from our preaching we are not revealing the truth of God. As Paul confirms to us in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18, ‘For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God’. And again in the same chapter and verse 23, ‘we preach Christ crucified’. The finished work of Calvary is central to the gospel message!
The Sabbath and ‘their concern’
John tells us ‘that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day’, 19. 31. The place of crucifixion must be cleared quickly. We note Deuteronomy chapter 21 verses 22 and 23 in this respect, ‘His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in wise bury him that day’. The gospel writers present to us the ‘day of preparation’ and the Jews’ request that the victim’s death be hastened by breaking their legs.
Whilst it was the day of preparation, two men had made preparations that the Lord’s body should be given the burial in accordance with Isaiah chapter 53 verse 9, ‘with the rich in his death’. Nicodemus is told in John chapter 7 verse 52, ‘Search, and look’. Did he search the Old Testament scriptures? He, and Joseph of Arimathea, had to work quickly regarding the precious body of the Lord. Therefore, did not Joseph and Nicodemus make preparation for this day? The women made preparation, but God made preparation that the Lord would not be given a pauper’s grave, but would be with the rich in His death. This is the only act that Joseph did, but what an act!
As believers may we bow in worship at the scene of Calvary and all its wonderful blessings given to us!
Out there amongst the hills, my Saviour died,
Pierced by those cruel nails was crucified.
Lord Jesus, thus has done all this for me;
Hence forward I would live, only for thee.
1 S. Stennett, quoted in Gadsby’s Hymnal.