By Lorne Friesen
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. (Mark 15:22-24, New International Version)
The scene of Jesus being nailed to the cross is more painful than most are willing to comprehend. The use of crucifixion to execute those condemned to death was not only painful but also embarrassing and humiliating for the one being executed and their loved ones who helplessly stood by. Some of those being nailed to the cross will have screamed because of the excruciating pain. The words of Jesus from the cross indicate that he was clearly conscious of his surroundings, and was still able to speak words of compassion.
The gospel writers inform us that Jesus knew he would face death in Jerusalem. Jesus was not naïve; he understood the consequences of promoting the ‘Kingdom of God’, especially in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Jesus made his journey to Jerusalem because he was committed to fulfill his divine mission. Jesus did not choose to be crucified. Rather, I believe that crucifixion was the consequence of faithfulness. Jesus was crucified, because people rejected his message and mission. Jesus chose to be faithful to his divine calling, to preach, teach and heal; the crucifixion inevitably followed. What a price to pay for faithfulness!
Jesus endured the cross, not for his well-being but for ours and all who suffer in the world. In the same way, God calls his faithful community to take upon themselves the brokenness of the world. The price of faithfulness today is still high, especially in places of military occupation and war. Courage is an essential quality if one is to confront the powers of death and destruction. It takes courage for men and women to speak about non-violent resolution to the occupation in the Palestinian Territories. Many Muslims, Christians and Jews, who have committed themselves to non-violence and stand in solidarity with victims of non-violence, find themselves targeted for death by the powers of destruction. As we remember Jesus’ faithfulness to endure the cross, let us commit ourselves again to remain faithful in the face of the violence that many people must endure daily.