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[Radio ProgramTuesday April 11, 2017]

Bearing His Cross

"And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his crossAnd Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 
And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.  Matthew 27:32 -26
The need for another man to carry the cross of Christ bears its own testimony to the horrors of scourging which our Lord endured the night before, and on the morning of his crucifixion. After Pilate was defeated in every political move to find a way to release Jesus - his chief method had been to offer the death of Barrabbas, which was ferociously denied by the mob crying out for the blood and death of Jesus - Pilate sought another way to set Jesus free - scourging.
The horrible cruelty of scourging is legendary. The use of Roman whips fitted out with chips of metal, or bone at their tips to tear away bare flesh was horrendous. Each lash, and the Romans had no law restricting how many lashes a victim may receive, tore away the skin, flesh, tendons, nerves and even blood vessels, all to leave the Lord's body a pulverised, but living, reddened corpse. The art of scourging was to inflict the maximum suffering and carnage to the body and yet keep the victim one step away from death. He was left to eke out an existence by prolonged agonizing breaths that kept him barely alive.
Pilate's plan was to bring forth Jesus after his scourging and present him to the people as a mass of suffering before their eyes that their hearts may melt in some little pity. This Pilate did when he presented him to the mob saying, "Behold, the Man!" He bid them take a good long look at Him. This they did, but out of their depraved nature revealing their hostility to God's Son they still spued out their hatred with more cries of, Crucify him, Crucify him. Sin's dark side had no mask and no pretence here. Jesus must die for men will not relent.
Let's go to Matthew's narrative of what followed:

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

  "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 
 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. 

Jesus Is Mocked

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 
And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 
And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 
And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him" (Matthew :24-31)
The apostles John tells us in his gospel:
"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha" (John 19:17).
So, it is evident that our Lord was first required to carry the wooden cross. It is no wonder that he stumbled under its weight. After the torture of scourging, Jesus was drained of human strength. It was required, therefore, that another be called upon to bear the Saviour's cross. So Matthew records, "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross"  (Matthew 27:32).
Note the reality of the cross. It was a real hunk of wood; a rough jagged and brutal thing to haul. It took a man of some physical strength to lift and lay it.
Note also that the cross was prepared in the city and made part of the procession to the hill called Calvary. It was a premeditated instrument of death. Crucifixion was designed by the Romans and here it was commissioned into use by the Romans to carry out the will of the Jewish people - Jews who were totally aware of the process. Out of their own mouths came the united, wicked cries, "crucify Him."
And note again that Jesus went silently to his own crucifixion.Willingly, He went along with the cross all the way through the streets of Jerusalem and on out through the north gate to the craggy hill of Golgotha.   
Isaiah said that He went as a sheep to the slaughter. He opened not his mouth.  
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isaiah 53:7-8).
Bernard of Clairvaux caught the sacredness of Jesus' suffering in real pain for our salvation in his hymn, which  Christians all over the world still sing to this today:

O sacred head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, your only crown.
O sacred head, what glory
and blessing you have known!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I claim you as my own.

My Lord, what you did suffer
was all for sinner's gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but yours the deadly pain.
So here I kneel, my Savior,
for I deserve your place;
look on me with thy favour
and save me by your grace.