Devotion 4-4-14

Good Morning!

John 19:16b-25a

16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ 22Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ 23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,

‘They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.’
25And that is what the soldiers did.

Pilate handed Jesus over to his soldiers, to be crucified – and they took Jesus. In John’s gospel, Jesus carries the cross himself. The custom was for the prisoner to carry the cross-beam of the cross, rather than the entire cross. They went out to a place called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, a hillside outside the walls of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the traditional place of the crucifixion is at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, another of those sites shared by multiple denominations. In the attached photo you see the ornate Greek Orthodox altar above a place in the floor identified as the site of the cross. You can kneel and place your hand through an opening and feel the square hole in the rock where the cross could have been placed.

In recent years a second possible site has been identified, where the rock bluff takes on an eerie image of a skull. That photo is also attached. At this site groups gather to share in a time of worship, and take Holy Communion.

Regardless of which site was the actual location, this we know: Jesus was crucified, hung on a cross outside the walls of Jerusalem.And the soldiers took his clothing and divided it among themselves, tossing dice (casting lots is much like tossing dice) to divide them up. If you read Psalm 22, you will find this in verse 18; this fulfilled another prophecy about David’s descendant, the Messiah.

And above his head they hung a sign, written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” It was the political declaration – this is what happens to those who set themselves up as king against Caesar. The religious leaders objected but on this Pilate refused to budge.

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