And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.Yes, I am sure it was a day that they wanted to forget. But they didn't forget. They began to meet together and remember His death every first day of the week. The apostle Paul would even say, "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). As the facts began to come together for them, they began to think of Calvary as often as they could.(Luke 23:48, 49)
We, too, must make a pilgrimage to Calvary. If we are going to see what they saw, then we are going to have to look, even though the scenes are not pleasant. We must look upon the view at Calvary. Only there can we grasp certain essential truths. Only there can the most important facts of history be presented to us in a dramatic and unforgettable way.
At Calvary, we see Christ's righteousness despised! It was despised by the Jews and their leaders. They had been waiting for the Holy One of God; but when they beheld His holiness, they despised it. How sad that many Jews were unable to accept the very one they had been waiting and praying for.
Christ's righteousness was despised by the Romans. They were not involved in the religious debate over Jesus; yet they found cause to mock Him. Was there something in Jesus attitude that the callous Romans could not understand? These Romans admired power; and perhaps they could not appreciate this one who stood as a sheep stands dumb before the shearers.
Christ's righteousness was even despised by one of His own disciples. Judas, who was at one time a trusted confidant, saw Christ as one to be bartered. How ironic that the one most worthy of our highest praise was subjected to our lowest humiliation.
When Mahatma Ghandi, the great advocate of the nonviolent protest, was gunned down by an assassin, someone said, "Now we know how dangerous it is to be good." We see that point even clearer in Christ. The only place this world has for people like Jesus is on crosses.
We also see Christ's righteousness displayed. Here in the most trying time of His life we see His holiness shine through. Moments of trial tend to accent the best and worst in a person. In Christ, we see His goodness so clearly that we stand in awe. There is only goodness in Him.
His righteousness was displayed in His attitude toward His enemies. Would anyone have blamed Jesus for some few sarcastic words to those who conspired to put Him to death? Yet, Jesus showed only compassion for His enemies and asked the Father for their forgiveness. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had talked about loving our enemies. We might have thought that His words were an unattainable ideal if He hadn't shown us how to love our enemies.
His righteousness was displayed in His attitude toward His friends. When we are in a time of great need, we hope our friends will support us. At Calvary, we do not see Jesus friends supporting Him - we see Jesus supporting His friends.
Christ's righteousness was displayed in His attitude toward suffering. Jesus accepts suffering. He realizes that no one can escape it. Jesus did not come to the cross cheerfully. If He had, we would have wondered about His sanity. No one enjoys suffering, not even the Lord. He did, however, accept suffering. He faced it in a way that inspires us all.
Christ's righteousness was displayed in His attitude toward death. Jesus wanted to avoid Calvary, but it wasn't because He was afraid to die. He might have been reluctant to face the pain of death. He might have wanted to live longer. He wasn't afraid to die. Listen to His final words: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." What a beautiful way to look at death. When we die, we are placing ourselves in the hands of the Father.
We can look at Calvary and see the actions of Christ. Surely, we are led to say, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God."
We aren't the only ones to be affected by the scenes of Calvary. We have seen Christ's righteousness despised and Christ's righteousness displayed. Now, let us see Christ's righteousness declared.
Christ's righteousness was declared by Pilate. He said, "I find no fault in Him." Though he did not, as far as we know, believe in Jesus, Pilate knew a good person when he saw one. Though he did not have the courage to set Christ free, he could not bear to judge this Holy One.
Christ's righteousness was declared by the centurion. He said, "Truly this man was the Son of God." Admittedly, his faith was partial and incomplete; but he was strongly touched by the man on the cross.
Nature even declared Christ's righteousness. When Jesus died, all of God's fury was set loose upon Calvary. There was darkness and an earthquake. It was as if God's anger could be held back no more. The temple veil came apart. Surely a nagging thought crept into many minds: "What have we done?"
God didn t finish there. Three days later came the ultimate declaration of Christ's righteousness. The Father raised Him from the dead. This, the most dramatic and startling event in history, was done so that God could say once again, "This is my beloved Son." Only after the resurrection did the meaning of the cross become clear. This Jesus and His execution might have faded from memory without the resurrection. After He had risen, they could look back at the cross and comprehend it.
So, the disciples took this message with them. They declared to the world what they had seen. Down through the centuries the message of Jesus, who conquered sin and death, has been passed on.
So it comes to all - a compulsion to go to Calvary. People long to go to Jerusalem and see the place where Jesus died. It is, indeed, a moving experience. But it is far more important to come spiritually to Calvary. After our spiritual pilgrimage to Calvary, we will leave changed. At Calvary, our eyes grow moist and our throat becomes choked with emotion. Maybe then we can understand the spirit of that great hymn that says:
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.