The whole world in comparison with the cross of Christ is one grand impertinence.
– Robert Leighton
All heaven is interested in the Cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning. – Oswald Chambers
Henri Daniel-Rops’s book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus is a masterful survey of first century Palestinian Jewish life and customs. After nearly 500 pages in which Daniel-Rops touches on every conceivable aspect of the lives of ordinary Jews living in Jesus’s day, he gives us this final, chilling description of how the citizens of Jerusalem might have reacted to the death of Jesus:
[On that day] a man was to be seen, a pitiful sight with his marked and blood-stained face, carrying a heavy beam on his shoulders and staggering under its weight as he went down the stepped streets of Jerusalem from the judgment-hall of the Antonia Fortress and then climbed towards the Gate of Ephraim.
A troop of Roman auxiliaries escorted him, and with him there went a few of his followers, mostly women. Did the crowd pay much attention to the procession, the crowd of housewives on their way to the upper market for the Passover shopping, the craftsmen, the worshippers going up to the Temple, the ass-drivers? A condemned man being led to the place of execution was no very uncommon spectacle.
And when all was over, when the crosses, the Cross of Christ and those of the two thieves, stood upon the bare mound of Golgotha, that haunt of wandering dogs and vultures, how many of the travelers on the road to Jaffa stopped to gaze at these poor remnants of humanity, to read an inscription placed on the central cross and to ask the soldiers as they played at knuckle-bones, “Who is it?”
In the daily life of the Jewish people, may not the most important event in the history of the world have passed unnoticed? -- Henri Daniel-Rops
Everyone involved in the crucifixion of Jesus had an agenda:
· The religious leaders sought to punish Jesus for blasphemy.
· Pilate merely wanted the problem of Jesus and his accusers to go away.
· The soldiers were just doing their grisly job.
They all thought they knew what they were doing that day, but no one knew that they were playing a crucial role in the most tragic moment in human history when man rose up to kill God.
No one but Jesus, that is. He knew that his death was the culmination of centuries of planning and preparation, that his unspeakable suffering fulfilled the words of the ancient prophets of Israel. Jesus knew that the hundreds of thousands of animals slaughtered in the Temple were one long dress rehearsal for this moment, when God gave up His Son. The death of Jesus was the most important event to occur on planet earth up to that point. Yet most people then – and now – cannot understand its significance.
How awful it would be, and how dangerous, to see the Cross of Christ and fail to appreciate its value, to see the Cross but not to recognize the priceless gift God gave us in the death of Jesus.
Prayer: Thank you, dear Jesus, for submitting the will of your Father, for giving up your life, for allowing evil men to break your body and spill your blood, for enduring the shame, abandonment, and rejection that rightly should be mine. I can never repay you for your amazing and kindly grace.