. . . And the morning of his crucifixion, the chief priests came together, formulated a plan, and took a handcuffed Savior to be turned over to Pilate.
Pilate understood that the entire proceedings were borne about by political conflict and interpersonal jealousy. As he sat down in the position of judgement, Pilate received a message from his Wife, who told him she had been given a dream of his innocence, and that he should immediately recuse himself from any proceedings against an innocent man.
Pilate must’ve assumed throwing the verdict to mob rule would exonerate him against the infamy of Barrabus—there was just no way the crowd was going to call for the blood of a man who had done nothing.
Crucify him! They screamed.
Pilate, attempting to reverse the mindset of the crowd with a verdict that possibly horrified even him, asked them, “What has this man done?”
Taking a pitcher of water, Pilate attempted to baptize his own weaknesses and guilt and remit them to the will of the crowd. It was too late. Pilate washed his hands and said “his blood be upon you.”
And in a reactionary moment that would reverberate in ways of which they had no idea, the crowd yelled back, “let his blood be upon us, and upon our children as well.”
And so it was.
He was taken and tied to a post. He was flogged with the excoriating blades buried in the ends of the cat of nine tails, each stroke burying itself into his flesh, and with a twist of the handle—tore him open to bleed. thirty-nine times he was flayed open, flinging blood and flesh in every direction.
He was taken to a great hall,and paraded in front of giant host of people. They stripped him naked, and layed upon him a scarlet cloak—one that the soldiers themselves sometimes wore, to mock his deluded notions of kingship on earth.
Forming a crown of Judean thorns, they pounded it down upon his head, and placed a makeshift scepter in his hand—all for the purpose of mocking him and cat-calling him–this–KING OF THE JEWS!
Spitting upon him and pounding on his crown with the scepter, they finally wearied of their own devices; he was stripped yet again, placed back into his own clothes, and marched off to be crucified—each brutal disrobement re-opening the wounds that had been drying against the fabric.
And along the Via Dolorosa he was taken. Step by every painful step, he was mocked, jeered, spat upon and cajoled. Hs face was smitten with closed fists, and his beard torn out by the roots.
Finally, they arrived at a place known as Golgotha, or “The Place Of The Skull.” offering him vinegar mixed with herbs, he turned his head and said nothing . . . .
Blow after blow, hammer-fall after hammer-fall, they nailed him to the cross—one of the most excruciating ways to die. They pounded those three nails until all adversaries of tendon and bone stood aside.
And then they dropped him into that hole with a thud.
The crowd below hissed and mocked, blasphemed and upbrqdided the King of kings, as an indifferent cadre of Roman soldiers gambled for the clothes of this shredded, bleeding, naked and barely recognizable man above them.
Passers-by yelled “You’re going to rebuild a temple in three days? You can’t even save yourself!” Laughing as they walked by.
The scribes and pharisees belittled him aloud, wondering how one who claimed communion with God would be unable to free himself from his predicament, making their own belief contingent on him doing so. And they laughed as well
And yet, a centurion was heard to say “surely this was truly the Son of God.”
Suddenly, he was heard to cry out “Eli Eli la masa bachthani!” Interpreted to mean “my God, My God, what have you forsaken me?”
Some thought he called for Elijah. others had no idea . . . confusion and angst abounded.
Then, in a surprising and jolting moment—one the circumvented Roman tradition of breaking the legs of the crucified, he was heard to say “Father, in your hands I commend my spirit, “ followed by “It—IS—FINISHED.”
And that was it. The plan was galvanized for the ages. The blood would cover an eternity’s multitude of sins. The physically-impossible rending of the veil in the temple was a moment nearly unnoticed against the tumultuous backdrop of earthquakes, darkness, subterranean thunders, and the Ultimate specter of the dead—walking out of their graves to testify to the truth.
Those three nails were more than a commodity. They were the hooks upon which all of eternity hung in the balance.