Saturday, December 1, 2012
Crucifixion: Triplets of Sacrifice
When putting up the outdoor Nativity last year, my husband Richard was inspired to make a wooden cross and place it behind the Baby Jesus. This made perfect sense to me, as He was born to die. The Son of God wrapped Himself in human flesh (John 1:2) to become the perfect sacrifice to pay our sin debt, to reconcile sinful man to Holy God through His death on the cross.
As we continue our study of triplets in Scripture, echoing God’s Triune nature, we find the same pattern repeated in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, just as it was in His birth. All of Christian doctrine, and our blessed hope of eternal life and of His glorious reappearing (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3), hinges on the sacred triplet of His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
After the trial presided over by Herod, Jesus was led away to be crucified, and Simon of Cyrene was recruited to carry His cross. This was not because the Jews and Romans had any shred of mercy for Jesus, but because they did not want Him to die before He was crucified, so that He would be a public example of what would happen to traitors and blasphemers.
The crowd following Jesus cried out in anguish over their fallen Leader, but Jesus told them, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children, and warned them that they would undergo a tribulation so severe that they would say blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. (Luke 23: 27-29)
Jesus was nailed to the cross at three points: one on each hand, and one at His feet. His resurrection body had three wounds from this ordeal that He invited the disciples and Thomas to examine: one on each hand, and one in His side (John 20:20). The inscription on His cross, calling Him the King of the Jews, was in three languages: Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew (Luke 23:38).
On Calvary’s hill that fateful day, there were three crosses, for the cross of Jesus was between that of two thieves (Matthew.27:38; Luke 23:33). These three represented the entire relationship of God with man: The Savior; those who accept Him; and those who reject Him (Luke 23:39-43).
Among those who rejected Him were passersby who mockingly reminded Jesus of His own words: Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself (Matthew 27:40). Sadly, they were unaware that His prophecy would be fulfilled as He willingly laid down the temple of His body to be destroyed, knowing that He would arise on the third day.
The crucifixion of Jesus began at the third hour (Mark 15 25) and was followed by three hours of darkness, from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. At that moment, Jesus cried out in a three-part lament: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:33-34).
At the cross, the dying Savior, His closest apostle John, and His mother Mary became a triplet of compassion as Jesus asked John to care for His mother as if she were his own, and John accepted this awesome responsibility (John 19:26).
As we approach Christmas and our celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we do three things to honor Him. First, may we be among those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Second, may we always remember His purpose in coming to earth – that through His death, burial and resurrection, all who trust Him may have eternal life! (John 3:16) And finally, may we be faithful to preach Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).