The Cross

Jesus carried His cross from Pilate’s judgment hall in the city of Jerusalem, and He then followed along the Via Dolorosa (meaning the sorrowful way toward the place outside the city walls where He was to be crucified.  The place was called Golgotha, an Aramaic term meaning “the place of a skull” (Mt 27:33), translated “Calvary” in Latin.  This was a distance of about half a mile.  The officials forced a man from the country named Simon to carry the cross the rest of the way after Jesus fell beneath His weight. 

Jesus has called everyone to carry his own cross, a way of showing we are willing to follow Him and share in His suffering, shame, and reproaches (Mt 27:27-44; Lk 9:23; Mk 8:34).  One man literally carried a wooden cross all the way through 35 nations, a distance of about 16,000 miles.  To show the world a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ, millions of crosses have been made.  A full size cross has been erected in the Garden of Prayer near Iron Horse Golf Course on Meadow Lakes Blvd in North Richland Hills, as pictured above.  The garden is always open to the public, where a full sized replica of the empty tomb may also be seen.  Many beautiful hymns about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection have been written and sung by millions of Christians around the world. 

As an instrument of death, the cross was detested by the Jews:  “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Gal 3:13; Dt 21:23).  The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, aggravated by the strained position of the body and intense thirst.  Wounds swelled about the rough nails.  Throbbing and headache ensued.  The mind was filled with dread foreboding till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death.  Sometimes this agony would last as for much as 36 hours.  Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the criminal.  The sudden death of Christ was an astonishment (Mk 15:44), although a soldier had pierced His side with a spear (Jn 19:34).  

The purpose of Jesus in coming to the earth was to accomplish the Father’s will by shedding His blood (Jn 4:34).  Isaiah had prophesied (700 BC, chapter 53) that Jesus would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  The theme of Paul’s ministry was the cross of Christ (1 Cor 1:23, 2:1-2).