Jesus’ Life: Chapter 18 – The Passion And Death Of Jesus
Time: Good Friday: 3.00pm
Death by crucifixion was as extreme a death as Jesus’ punishers could devise.
Cicero, a Roman politician and lawyer who lived before the time of Jesus’ birth (106-43 BC), described it as the “crudelissimum teterrimumque supplicium” meaning, “most cruel and horrible punishment” – (‘In Verr.,’ 5:64)
Once nailed and hoisted high, the condemned persons enduring agony multiplied:
“A fever… soon set in produced a burning thirst. [Then] the increasing inflammation of the wounds in the back, hands, and feet; the congestion of the blood in the head, lungs, and heart; the swelling of every vein, an indescribable oppression, racking pains in the head; the stiffness of the limbs, caused by the unnatural position of the body…”. (Pulpit Bible Commentary)
From noon until 3.00pm, Jesus silently bore the extreme physical and mental anguish and “darkness came over all the land”.. (Matthew 27:45)
At three o’clock Jesus, drained by his agony from the Garden of Gethsemane, his multiple trials, mockery, scourging, journey to Calvary and terminal crucifixion, cried out in Aramaic, his everyday language, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Some bystanders, on hearing Jesus’ cry, said, “‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah!’ Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink”. But other bystanders said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him”. (Matthew 27:47-49)
Jesus then cried out again in a loud voice saying, “It is completed,” bowed his head and “gave up his spirit”. (John 19:30)
At the same time, “the curtain of the Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two, from top to bottom,” “the earth shook,” “rocks split” and “tombs opened”. (Matthew 27:51-52)
Among the many who witnessed Jesus’ long torture and death was an unnamed Roman Centurion. He had been appointed to take charge of the work of a small group of soldiers, to led Jesus to Calvary and then crucify Him.
The Centurion witnessed much of the agony and silence of the suffering Jesus; the crowd’s every action and motion; the darkness, the earthquake, and Jesus’ cries and final moments.
Upon Jesus’ final breath, reacting in awe and fear, not only for himself but his comrade soldiers and the many remaining onlookers, he praised God saying, “Certainly this man was innocent”. (Luke 23:47) (Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, Luke 23:44-48, John 19:28-30)
Among my many silent thoughts on Jesus’ Passion, I often ponder about the tearing of the Jewish Temple curtain!
The moment symbolised the opening of Christ’s new way to God (Christianity), through Jesus’ torturous death; His mission was accomplished.
What a wonderful gift to humankind.
Lord Jesus, I pray that leaders of all world faiths come to see that you are the Son of God and that they seek the wisdom and strength to lead their followers to You.
Prayer: Divine Praises
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and Saints.