Good Friday is a day to remember a certain Person on the cross. The four gospels, found in the New Testament section of the Bible, reveal to us all that happened to this Person on this particular day. In a place called Golgotha, three men were crucified by the Romans. This article aims to give attention to the cross in the middle and the Person hanging on it.
The Person on the cross is Jesus of Nazareth. He is around 30-33 years old. He is the oldest son of Joseph and Mary. The Person appears to be a helpless and unattractive man. He is a man of sorrows and one despised of men. He is dying the death of a criminal even though He is innocent. The Person on the cross is a victim of a political conspiracy. Some powerful Jewish leaders hated Him for the way He rebuked them and exposed their hypocrisy. They hated Him for the things He taught, the things He claimed about Himself, and certain actions of His especially on the Sabbath (religious day of rest). And so, they wanted Him dead. But Jews in those days did not have the authority to execute capital punishment. So, with the help of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal, some false witnesses, and political pressure on Pontius Pilate, the religious leaders were able to influence Rome to put this man on the cross.
But who is this Person really? Where did He come from? What did He teach? What did He do?
1. His Humble Beginnings Yet Miraculous Birth
The Person on the Cross had very humble beginnings. When He was in His mother’s womb, His parents were in Nazareth in the Galilean region. But Caesar Augustus’ decree for a worldwide census forced the parents on a journey to Bethlehem in Judea where the family had to register themselves. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary was due to give birth but they could not find suitable accommodation. So, she delivered in the place where they keep animals, and baby Jesus was kept in a manger. While He was still very young, Herod the Great attempted to kill the baby, but the family escaped to Egypt and later returned and settled back in Nazareth.
Even though His beginnings were humble, yet His birth was miraculous. Both Joseph and Mary received individual angelic visitations announcing the birth of Jesus. Even before Joseph and Mary physically came together, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin Mary’s body and conceived Jesus in her womb, just as it was revealed by the angel Gabriel. When this Person was born, certain shepherds also received angelic announcement that a Saviour was born in the city of David. After some time, certain wise men from the East observed an unusual star in the sky that communicated to them that the King of the Jews was born. As they started travelling towards Israel to honour the new-born King, the star that they were tracing led them to Bethlehem where the baby was born, exactly as Micah had prophesied.
2. His Ordinary Background Yet Unique Lineage
The Person on the cross had a very ordinary background. He was born in a carpenter family. He probably worked as a carpenter before He began His teaching ministry.
At the same time, this Person came from a unique lineage. This Man was a descendant of Abraham to whom it was promised that in His seed, all the nations will be blessed. This Man was a descendant of the tribe of Judah from which the future Messiah was expected. This Man was a descendant of David to whom it was promised that His son will have an everlasting kingdom.
3. His Common Physical Attributes Yet Awesome Power
The Person on the cross looked just like any other Hebrew man. He grew from being a child to a boy to a grown man physically and mentally just like any other person. He did not have a halo behind His head. He had a body like ours. He felt hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, joy, and sorrow just like us.
At the same time, this Person had immense power. He had so much power that demons would shriek at His voice and leave at His command. He had so much power that He would rebuke the wind and it would stop. He had the power to heal all kinds of sicknesses and raise dead people. He had the power to convert water into wine. He had the ability to feed five thousand people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He had the ability to defy gravity and walk on water.
4. His Lack of Formal Education Yet Profound Knowledge
The Person on the cross was not theologically trained. He did not go to any rabbinical schools like the Pharisees. And that is the very fact that caused His listeners to be astonished at His teaching because He taught with great authority.
The Person on the cross demonstrated profound knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. Some soldiers who were sent earlier to arrest Him could not because they had never heard anyone teach like Him. He authoritatively expanded the interpretation of the OT law. He spoke of heavenly realities to which no one except God had access. Not only this, He demonstrated omniscience in His awareness of the personal lives of people like Nathanael and the Samaritan woman, as well as in His prophecies concerning Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denials, the details of His arrest and crucifixion, etc.
5. His Dependence on God Yet Sovereign Authority
The Person on the cross was someone who completely depended on God. He was a man who spent much of His time in prayer and communion with God. He would seek God’s help for direction in His ministry and for spiritual protection from His enemies. He had prayed to God that if there was any other less painful and awful way to die, He would grant it.
But the Person on the cross also demonstrated total authority and control over all things. His prophecies concerning His own arrest, death and resurrection proved that He was in full control of the things that were done to Him. Even at His arrest, He reminded everyone that He could call 12 legions of angels to rescue Him if He wanted. The Bible reveals two instances when He entered the Temple and drove out those who were misusing the temple property in order to do business. He deliberately healed on the Sabbath to prove His authority over Israel’s religion. Not only that, He described in great detail the events surrounding His future Second Coming suggesting that He controlled the future as well.
6. His Servanthood Yet His Kingship
The Person on the cross was a servant. Just before His arrest, He took upon a servant’s vesture, got down, and washed His disciples’ feet. He expected the same from His disciples. He would teach them that if they wanted to be great, they must be least of all and servants of all. His served His followers by relentlessly teaching them about God and meeting their spiritual needs.
At the same time, this Person was a King, just as the inscription on His cross read. Before Jesus Himself announced His kingship, God had sent a prophet named John the Baptist whose goal was to prepare the people to receive Jesus as King. Jesus’ own teaching centrally involved the preaching of the kingdom of God with Him being God’s anointed King. Through His teachings, He would describe what kind of people would gain entrance into His kingdom and what kind of people would be excluded from His kingdom. He gave three of His disciples a glimpse of His future glory as the Messiah. As a victorious yet peace-loving King, He entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey just 5 days before His crucifixion. When the high priest asked Him if He was the Anointed King or the Messiah, He confessed and applied to Himself a passage from the Book of Daniel that speaks of a divine King with a worldwide and everlasting Kingdom. When Pilate asked Him if He was a king, He did not deny but confessed that He has a kingdom that is not of this world.
7. His Love for Sinners Yet Hatred for Sin
The Person on the cross loved people, especially those who were burdened and heavy-laden, those who were broken in spirit. He forgave sins. He ate with sinners and tax collectors. He had compassion for the people seeking Him. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. He graciously received people such as Zaccheus and the paralytic who eagerly sought Him. Those who obeyed Him, He called them His own mother, brother, and sister. He discipled the apostles, trained them for the ministry, guarded their faith, corrected their false understanding, encouraged them before His departure, and prayed for their sanctification and protection. Post His resurrection, when they temporarily drifted from their mission, this Person graciously restored them to their calling.
As much as He loved repentant sinners, the Person on the cross hated sin and those who committed evil. In His personal life, He was tempted on many occasions by Satan as well as unbelieving Jews, but He never sinned. He rebuked those who tested Him and wished to trap Him. He rebuked those who stressed keeping traditions without regard for keeping God’s word. He openly rebuked the Pharisees and scribes and pronounced woes on them for their dishonesty, hypocrisy, and their failure to shepherd God’s people. He called the unbelieving Jews as children of the devil. He pronounced judgment on all those who practiced iniquity.
8. His Condemnation Yet His Future Judgment
The Person on the cross appears as a condemned man. The Jews condemned Him as a law breaker. The Romans condemned Him as a possible troublemaker and challenge to Caesar’s rule.
But little did they realize that the Person on the cross who they thought was under judgment was actually going to judge them. He is the one to whom God the Father has given all authority for judgment. His future resurrection was going to prove that God has appointed Him to judge the whole world in righteousness.
9. His Humiliation Yet Future Exaltation
The Person on the cross was humiliated. He was dishonoured in His own hometown. At one point, people attempted to throw Him off a cliff. He was called a Samaritan and having a demon. His exorcisms were attributed to Beelzebul. At His Jewish hearing, people spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him. The Roman soldiers stripped Him of His clothes and dressed Him up as a king in order to mock Him. They placed a crown of thorns on Him. They scourged Him and beat Him. At the cross, they humiliated Him by offering Him a sour drink. Those passing by were hurling abuses at Him, wagging their heads, mocking His claims to kingship and His inability to free Himself.
But this Person’s humiliation was only for a season. Only Easter Sunday, God glorified Him by raising Him from the dead. Forty days hence, this Man would ascend back to heaven and is currently seated at the right hand of God. God has now highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above all names, that at His name, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord! This Man will come in His glory with all the angels, sit on His glorious throne and judge all the living and the dead. At His voice, all the dead will be raised, either for life or for judgment.
10. His Humanity Yet His Divinity
And finally, the Person you see on the cross was actually a man. He was a man who was born of a woman, a man whom people saw, whom people heard, whom people touched. He physically died on the cross. He was physically buried in a tomb. He physically rose again from the dead.
But the Person on the cross is God Himself! He is the Word who was in the beginning with God and was God. At His baptism, God declared from heaven that this Man was His beloved Son. This Person did the works of God and spoke the words of God. He is the Light of the world. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the true vine. He is the Good Shepherd who is laying down His life for the sheep. He is the one who alone gives eternal life.
So, why give so much attention to this one Person? That is because the Person on the cross is the gospel. That’s right. The gospel is a person! The gospel message is empty is this Person is taken out of it.
Acts 8:5 – Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.
Col 1:28 – We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom …
1 Cor 1:23 – but we preach Christ crucified …
This Person is the good news of God. If you reject this Person, you are rejecting God. But if you are willing to receive this Person on the Cross, you are receiving God. And if you do that, God will receive you. If you draw near to God based on this Person’s work on the cross, God will forgive all your sins and declare you righteous based on what this Person accomplished on the cross.
And so, what will you do? Will you wag your heads like those who were passing by? Or will you bow before the Person on the Cross?