“They crucified him” (John 19:18, NIV).
Jesus Christ was unique in His death as in His birth. In a perceptive and picturesque statement of a great truth, Martin Niemoller said, “The cradle and the cross of Christ were hewn from the same tree.” The incarnation was solely with a view to the crucifixion.
Our Lord’s death was unique in that it was the only death that fulfilled millennia of prophecy. The sufferings and death of the Messiah were not only foreshadowed in meticulous detail in the Jewish sacrificial system, but they were foretold by the prophets. It has been stated that even in His tragic hours on the cross, thirty-three separate Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled.
He was the only Person to whom death was not inevitable. “I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). To Him, death was deliberately chosen. He “gave himself for us” wrote Paul to Titus (2:14). He was not dragged to the cross, but drawn by quenchless love.
To Him alone, death was not a result of sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23); but as He did no sin, He did not need to collect its wages. This left Him perfectly free to assume the burden and guilt of the world’s sin and to provide deliverance from its bondage.
His was the only death accompanied by miracles. It was appropriate that a life replete with miracles should conclude with a series of miracles. There was the mysterious darkness which was no eclipse, since the moon was then at its farthest from the sun. And it lasted not for a few minutes but for three hours.
There was the miraculous rending of the curtain veil, sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, requiring three hundred men to handle it. “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). A mighty earthquake accompanied His death. Rocks were split, and graves opened. “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life… and appeared to many people” (27:52-53), conclusive evidence of His power over death.
Finally, His was the only death that made possible the forgiveness of sins – an experience to which myriads can testify.
When Thou didst hang upon the tree
The quaking earth acknowledged Thee
When Thou didst there yield up Thy breath
The world grew dark as shades of death
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.