“He will be called Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” – From even before He was born, the Cross was there in the peripheral of Jesus’ life: He was born to die. The Roman guards may have “escorted” Jesus that last walk from Pilate’s court to Golgotha BUT this was a path Jesus placed Himself on long before!
“Jesus resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus had spent the last three years preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom all over but that time was now past and there was only one more place He would go. He turned His face to Jerusalem. Nothing was going to make Him look anywhere else until He had reached there –and reached the Cross. On the way, some offered to become His disciples but were not ready to commit themselves; He left them in the dust. Would they have offered if they knew His dedicated goal was His own death? Was that not His call to Discipleship: “Come and Die, because to follow me is to end up on a Cross.”?
The Disciples suggested there might “be another road”; Jesus called Peter the mouthpiece of Satan and silenced their objections. A crowd tried to divert Him into becoming their King but this present road led to humiliation, not exaltation.
He hurried things on by dismissing Judas to do what he needed to do quickly. Judas did not have to sit there wondering how he was going to slip out unnoticed; Jesus dismissed him without the others having a clue. In the Garden, He prayed to the Father: “Not my will but yours be done”; then said to His disciples, “Get up; we need to go meet my Betrayer.” Before, Jesus had miraculously slipped from the clutches of the hostile crowd but now He willingly placed Himself in their grasp! It was the Disciples who fled deserting Jesus. It was the mob that fell to the ground as He told them “I AM He.” It was Judas who tried to flee his own guilt. It was Peter who fled in bitter tears as he had just fled the accusations of a servant girl. It was Pilate’s wife who warned Pilate to flee from passing judgment on this Man.
Jesus stands as they interview false accusers. Jesus stands as they blindfold and beat Him. Jesus stands looking at Peter as they both hear the cock crow. Jesus stands in front of Caiaphas and Annas. Jesus stands in front of Herod. Jesus stands in front of Pilate. Jesus stands in front of the people who cry out for His crucifixion ---- all of whom will one day bend before where He stands and confess that He is LORD.
They beat until He can no longer stand. But Jesus would not be stopped. They loaded the crosspiece on a man who could barely carry His own weight. He staggered toward Golgotha already carrying on His shoulders a part of His goal: the Cross. He falls, in danger of not making it but a man is drafted to carry the crosspiece because Jesus is headed to the Cross!
His last few steps bring Him to His goal: the Cross. But to Him is not the rest of a victor but rather the Role of the Victim: the Victim of shame and scorn, the Victim of my Sin, the Victim of God’s Wrath, the Victim as the Lamb of God, the Victim of the Cross: Death.
But Victim becomes Victor as the Cross becomes the Empty Tomb and the Wrath of the Father becomes the Exaltation of the Son!
Hallelujah! He is risen; He is risen indeed!
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.