-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
*Also a very special thank you to my wife Samantha for helping out on the audio recording since my voice is still out of order from allergies. Thanks sweetheart!
Just outside of Jerusalem’s walls sat a miserable outcropping of bedrock called Skull Hill. It was here where criminals of Rome faced the most demeaning and cruel punishment the Empire could offer, crucifixion.
Being stripped naked, they were nailed to the cross and hung suspended until, too weak to inhale, they suffocated. Many men had graced the hill before that day: ruthless scoundrels, murderers, and rebels. But the one who came today had a unique title placed above his thorn-crowned head, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
On Skull Hill, Jesus was forcibly disabled, paralyzed to a wood cross, and humiliatingly exposed to the jeering crowd hurling insults and spit at him. Though the physical sufferings of Christ make us wince, we find that his spiritual sufferings were far more hellish.
Paul, a former enemy of Jesus turned follower, described this as “the one who did not know sin, God made sin for us.” Jesus, the holy Son of God, for all eternity had never even dabbled with sin and never felt its effects and consequences. Yet because of his love for us, he bore our sin and all its effects in order that the punishment we deserved might fall on him. The just had died for the unjust, the sinless for the sin-full. Jesus Christ, as our substitute, perfectly satisfied the Triune God. When he exhaled his last breath on that cross, it was our curse he bore and our death he died.
On Skull Hill an exchange had taken place. As Paul went on to explain, Christ was made sin for us, “so that in Christ, we should become the righteousness of God.” Not only was our sin charged to him, but, through faith in his person and work, Christ’s righteousness was credited to us. When God looked at Christ on the cross that day, he saw you and I, and now through faith in Christ, when he looks at you and I, he sees only his Son.
It is for this reason that Christians can journey today to Skull Hill and see the horrible terror of the cross. There on that hill we see the brutal reality of what our sin brought about and what it deserved. Yet, on that same hill we see something wondrous. For it is only in the cross of Christ that we find salvation. May we boast in nothing else…