Good Friday is fast approaching and, not coincidentally, we are drawing near to the end of our reading of Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore. Today, in chapter 10, Leahy looks to John 19:17 which reads “So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.”
In this chapter Leahy looks to the significance of Jesus being taken outside the gates of the city. Though it may seem like only a small detail, it is one laden with significance for those who understand the Old Testament context.
Here is a short quote from this chapter:
Christ felt both the hurt of man’s injustice and the weight of God’s justice as he went forth to bear the full curse of sin and so to be accursed of God. He was to die on a cross and “cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 KJV). Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 21:22,23. The law required that the body of an executed criminal should hang on a post, but should not be left there overnight. “A hanged man,” it declared, “is accursed of God.” To be thus hanged on a tree was considered the greatest possible disgrace and the most shameful end for any man, being publicly proclaimed to be under God’s curse. Matthew Henry comments, “Those that see him thus hang between heaven and earth will conclude him abandoned of both and unworthy of either.” The Christ who redeemed his people from the curse of the law was himself made a curse for them, hanging on a tree proclaimed that awful fact, for in ancient Israel those punished in the manner described in Deuteronomy 21 were not accursed because they were hanged on a tree, but conversely they were hanged on a tree because they were accursed.
Calvin says, “It was not unknown to God what death his own Son would die, when he pronounced the law, “He that is hanged is accursed of God.”