I am always amazed as I read the Gospel accounts of the trial, the crucifixion, and the death of Jesus. I am amazed at how simply the gospel writers identified this event.
“And they crucified him“ (Mark 15:25).
In someways it simply doesn’t seem right. How could something so momentous be expressed so simply? How could something so barbaric and unthinkable – – the death of the Son of God – – be described in a sentence?
What should we know about what the gospel writers meant?
First, we must understand that while crucifixion is strange to us it was common in Israel in that day. Jesus certainly knew what crucifixion was as did His disciples. The first readers also knew what crucifixion meant and what our Lord experienced. While Mark and the other writers did not describe what Jesus faced, they all knew that crucifixion was an awful, barbaric, and inhumane way to die.
Second, as they wrote, they knew that Jesus died for the sins of the world. They understood that “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). They knew that Jesus had not been murdered, but that He voluntarily laid down His life for a broken world and sinful people.
Third, they knew the life-changing power of Christ becoming the once for all sacrifice for all sin. This fulfilled the sacrificial system but it was not like the sacrificial system. This sacrifice would never have to be repeated.
The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear: “[The law] can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?” (Hebrews 10:1b-2).
Those sacrifices reminded people of sin, but the death of Christ on the cross reminds us of hope and forgiveness. He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He brought forgiveness for all time by His sacrifice for us.
“They crucified Him” is a simple statement with profound eternal significance.
No wonder we call it “Good Friday.”