It is Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. It is the darkest day in human history, though most humans have no clue of this. In Rome, Tiberius attends to the demanding business of the empire. Throughout the inhabited world, babies are born, people eat and drink, marry and are given in marriage, barter in marketplaces, sail merchant ships, and fight battles. Children play, old women gossip, young men lust, and people die.
But today one death, one brutal, gruesome death, the worst and best of all human deaths will leave upon the canvas of human history the darkest brushstroke. In Jerusalem, God the Son, the Creator of all that is (John 1:3), will be executed. […]
One last move. Pilate tries to persuade the Sanhedrin to release Jesus. One last block and trap. “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12). The Council has Pilate where they want him: cornered. Checkmate.
And the triune God has the Council, Pilate, and Satan where he wants them. They would have no authority over the Son at all unless it had been given them from above (John 19:11). Fallen Jews, Gentiles and spiritual powers unwittingly collaborate in executing the only innocent death that could possibly grant the guilty life. Checkmate.
Morning wanes as Jesus stumbles out of the Praetorium, horribly beaten and bleeding profusely. The Roman soldiers had been brutal in their creative cruelty. Thorns have ripped Jesus’s scalp and his back is one grotesque, oozing wound. Golgotha is barely a third of a mile through the Garden Gate, but Jesus has no strength to manage the forty-pound crossbar. Simon of Cyrene is drafted from the crowd.
Twenty-five minutes later, Jesus is hanging in sheer agony on one of the cruelest instruments of torture ever devised. […]