In Jerusalem there was a gate, the Sheepgate it was called,
Where Hebrews led their sheep and goats, to offer for a sacrifice.
From near and far they came to gather for a solemn feast—
The Passover—memorial of deliverance from the bondage sore
by a heathen nation. Many generations since have past…
On the 14th day of the month of Nisan*, at this very gate, a crowd passed through
Waiting for a dreadful scene, ‘twas nothing new, it happened times before,
But this one was indeed unique—it changed Old Israel’s destiny.
The mob did press, increasing as they came in numbers,
Shouting, pushing, laughing, mocking, eager to await,
The brutal, bloody, rough event.
Roman soldiers were to crucify offenders, sentenced as the judge saw fit.
Two were thieves, the third an utter different case, but for the priests the worst of heretics,
worthy to condemn to hell, a man who called himself the Son of God.
Along the Via Dolorosa one did drag His heavy cross, His bleeding, wounded frame caves in,
Fainting underneath the weight,
Some women wept and pitied Him, but most passed coldly by.
What is that wreath of spiky thorns upon this sacred head?
Who did this so mean, so cruel, to pierce the forehead of such noble bearing?
Large drops of blood run down this face, the body marred with open wounds
Brutal scourging caused to rip His back. What is His iniquity to be treated thus?
No anger, hatred in the face, no curse upon the lips, who is this,
to bare serene so merciless a feat?
Who is He that such interest caught a crowd, the mix of priests and Levites, scribes,
the common, high and low? They just heard and saw Him teaching, blessing, days ago.
But shouted now “Away with Him, crucify Him!”
Strange, perverse the mind of men, give in to the insidious scheme the priests hatched out,
To plot the ruin of One all innocent!
Long the hate and jealousy religious leaders held against this certain Jesus,
A teacher, healer of no ordinary measure.
The people listened spellbound, crowded round Him, as words of truth and comfort
like Heaven’s dew fell upon the downcast soul, cheered the heart, thus faith and hope were kindled.
But cutting to the heart His words of warning, stern rebuke addressed the priests, the scribes,
the Pharisees. How dare this unlearned, simple carpenter confront them openly?
They will have none of it—He must be quickly silenced!
They spied on Him to find occasion, to catch Him by some utterings to twist the words,
Condemn Him as a heretic and danger to the nation.
Three years went by—now enmity had reached its peak, die He must!—
A way has to be found to justify their policy. Then—Oh! There came the day a traitor,—Judas—
One of the disciple’s band, played Jesus into the leader’s hands.
They catch Him in the night—the trial of Jesus now begins. . .
Vicious accusations pounded down on Him, but nothing proved them true. Their frenzy grew,
As Jesus uttered nothing. Nervous, mad with fury, Caiaphas burst out the question He must answer:
“Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” To their relief Jesus solemnly declared: “I am.”
All hell broke loose, for this the worst of blasphemy, the heresy that death must seal.
The high priest’s palace now a den of devils, as the blind, deluded mob did spit on Jesus, smote and
buffeted, sneered and mocked Him relentlessly.
The goal was reached, the action set to get the death decree
from Rome’s governor for this found guilty heretic.
“I find no fault in Him,” had Pilate said, “I release you Barabbas.” “No,” they cried,
“Crucify Him, Away with Him.” (Luke 23:4, 18). “Shall I crucify your King?”
“We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:4, 15). With this they got their victim,
but did not realize that by condemning Jesus they also sealed their own doom.
How often Jesus longed to reach them with His tender plea: “Come unto Me, I give you life.”
Till at last with tears He had to say: “Your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 24:38).
Their cup was full to overflowing as they sentenced their King, the Son of God!
As through the Sheepgate goats and sheep have been brought in for sacrifice pointing to
the true one to come, now Jesus went, brought to the slaughter outside the gate, as the Lamb of God,
slain from the world’s foundation. (Revelation 13:8).
On Calvary the place of execution, the soldiers marvelled, stunned to see as Jesus did not fight,
but willingly stretched out His arms, that His hands and feet might be pierced.
Then erecting, putting down the cross, Oh, what pain! No scream escaped the lips, but woeful sighs
To signify the throbbing aches the weakened body now endures.
The soldiers hear the words: “Father, forgive.” Those brute men are very much amazed.
The hours pass in awful agony, the soul of Jesus wrapped in bitter anguish,
Feels the wrath of God who “smites the Shepherd” (Zechariah 13:7).
The curse of sin, the guilt of man upon Him enshrouds His mind with darkness,
That also enveloped the cross.
Then Satan presses hard to mock—discourage, scorns and tempts with all his cunning might.
Now Jesus is poured out like water, His bones are out of joint, His heart is like wax melted in the midst
of His bowels. His tongue cleaves to the jaw, His strength dries up. (Psalm 22:14–15).
More bitter still the torment so intense, extreme, surpassing all those sufferings,
Now being from the Father’s love cut off—Jesus feels forsaken utterly. . .
The sin of you and me has done this worst of all His woes!
The cry “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) tears His soul apart,
Anguish most intense besets the mind of Jesus,
The terror of hell creeps into His heart, shuts out all light,
He feels the punishment for sin crushing down on Him.
He is tasting death with its forbidding, frightful grip
As divine judgment demands payment for the law transgressed by man.
With the last flicker of breath Jesus utters: “Father, into Thine hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46).
Broken, drained and torn, the Son of God poured out His soul unto death
As Substitute for man, to bear his guilt.
Beyond the grave Jesus could not see, the plight of sin had ravaged Him,
robbed Him of every vestige of calm, Jesus was alone, so very much alone…
He emptied to the dregs the bitter cup He chose to drink
To redeem a sinful world from hell.
Piercing then His side, the Roman centurion saw with others
Blood and water gushing out—it testifies that the heart of Jesus Christ was broken.
Israel for millennia waited for Messiah, but when He came He was rejected.
They did not want to have a Saviour to heal the soul from sin, no righteous teacher
Who turned Sanhedrin’s old traditions upside down, rather a king of might and worldly glory.
Thus the Son of God incarnate walking on this earth, a man of sorrow was,
acquainted with much grief (Isaiah 53:3),
For the coldness of the heart of men He came to save.
The poor and lowly heard Him gladly, Fishermen He chose for service,
But even those were often slow of understanding.
Yet Jesus “set His face like a flint” (Isaiah 50:7), to do the Father’s will, carry out His mission,
to face His destiny—the cross—to give for many His life a ransom.
But Jesus burst the gates of death by resurrection, He ascended into Heaven, to be a merciful High Priest.
He is the perfect Saviour to wash away any sin confessed with brokenness of heart and spirit,
and give everlasting life to those who will accept Him.
And “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11),
and with exceeding joy shall shout one day: “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given Me!”
Consider the cost, dear reader, the price of your salvation,
through what ordeal and pain our Saviour had to pass
from Bethlehem to Calvary …
Note to *: On the 14th day of Nisan the Passover lamb was to be killed. On this very day Jesus was crucified, the true Lamb of God, ending all blood sacrifices offered upon the altar, type had met antitype.