Very often, we push to the background (or erase completely) the physical toughness, mental sturdiness, and spiritual fortitude Jesus exhibited in carrying out the salvific work at Calvary. It’s quite striking how our Savior suffered the death of a thief, a liar, and a false prophet with such poise and grace.
In today’s reading, Jesus Christ was on trial for claiming to be the Son of God and an enemy of the king. To maintain the mission while undergoing a great miscarriage of justice is not just difficult but proves that this was not merely some human mission. The verdict had been determined. The crowd believed that Jesus was the problem, and if they rid the world of Him, the world would be a better place.
Pilate made clear, “I find no grounds for charging him” (John 19:6). Christ is not just an example of serving God faithfully to the end, but He also exemplifies what it looks like to faithfully endure suffering in the faces of our enemies. Reading this text could easily leave one screaming, “Fight back, Jesus.” For those of us who know how this story ends, we know Jesus was fighting back, but simply fighting back God’s way.
Not only was the mind of the crowd already made up, but the mind of Jesus was, too. In the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to walk with a resolute mind, remaining focused and faithful to God’s mission for us. Despite knowing the people’s intentions, Jesus never forgot that His life ultimately rested in the hands of the Father. This should be the posture of every believer: “I know God will take care of me.”
We cannot discuss this portion of Scripture without talking about the need for justice. Jesus was beaten by fearful leaders, crucified by the call of the religious elite, and called to be killed by His peers. This government-sanctioned murder was carried out on a man who had done no wrong. For Scripture reminds us in 1 Peter 2:22 that Jesus had committed no sin. Nevertheless, He committed Himself to a just God despite dying for an unjust world who would come together to kill Him.
Jesus’s response here is to remain focused. For His ultimate purpose, overriding the justice system of His day was not His goal, but rather that He would place the government upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). For Jesus, Golgotha was the hill to die on.
May we be found innocent and blameless in our walk as we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, carrying our cross up the hill—the place where we die to our flesh despite suffering and pain for the purpose of glorifying God.