Jesus’ journey to the cross was extraordinarily short, yet it transformed death from being eternal to only temporary. He literally trampled death by death. Jesus was arrested around 1:30 a.m.; and by 3:00 p.m. that same day He was dead. In less than 14 hours He was tried by illegal courts, flogged, walked the 650 yards to Golgotha, the place of the skull, crucified on a cross and died. Though God asked so much of Him, He would not permit the suffering to last one minute longer than necessary.
Jesus hung on the cross from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Those were probably six of the longest hours of human history. During those six hours, Jesus spoke seven times. Each time He spoke, He had to inhale enough air into His lungs to animate the words that were formed by His dry and dehydrated mouth and lips. We know His mouth was dry because one of the statements He made from the cross was His admission of His thirst.
Tradition tells that as the first nails were being pounded into His flesh, Jesus made His first statement from the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” At this moment that must have felt like the brink of hell, Jesus cried to His Father in prayer on our behalf. What greater love can exist? Next, He responded to the thief who believed that He was coming into a kingdom that was not of this world. He spoke to His mom and His beloved disciple about their new relationship after His death. He pointed us back to the famous Psalm 22 and confirmed that this moment in time was what David had written about all along when he quoted the first verse: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”
He spoke of His thirst described in Psalm 22:15. He took a drink and spoke His final statements from the cross, giving Himself fully into the hands of God and crying out in victory that all was finished.
After six grueling hours, He died at 3:00 p.m. There had been darkness since noon. The temple curtain veiling the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. Earthquakes shook the ground. Amidst the mockery, darkness, earthquakes, and risen saints visiting Jerusalem, Jesus’ cross was the center of it all. Not one of His bones was broken; rather than break bones to bring on death, the guard speared His side where water and blood flowed insuring that He was dead. Every moment on that cross was memorable and important to Jesus. From this point on He asks us to eat bread, remembering His body that was given for us, and drink wine, remembering the blood He shed from this point on. Jesus spent a relatively short time on His cross, but He never wants us to forget those short hours and what they mean. There are two who expressed faith in Christ during those six hours of torture—one of the thieves on the cross and a Roman Centurion.
Six hours of hanging on the cross were far too long for those who loved and cared for Him. They immediately wanted Him to be taken down from the cross.
Joseph and Nicodemus came forward to care for the body of Jesus, and the religious leaders insisted on guards who sealed at the tomb, which ended up confirming the resurrection. The women watched and planned to anoint Jesus’ body properly; but they had to wait because the sun was setting and it was time to obey the law and rest on Sabbath.
Jesus will never forget the six hours on the cross. How does your heart respond to the events of Good Friday? Are you indifferent as most of the Roman guards were, or do you mock others for believing that Jesus literally died on that cross to save us from our sins? Do you believe like the thief who died that day and like the Roman Guard who knew only that God was at work in these events? The work of the cross was completed for Jesus on Good Friday. Jesus did His part for our redemption. Have you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead? Then you are saved (Romans 10:9). When you are saved by faith, you do your part in completing the work of the cross in your life.