The way His death came about was swift and sickening. You know the story. Even while Peter was denying Him before a servant girl in the courtyard, Jesus was being shipped off to Pilate. This Roman Governor hated the Jews whom he ruled over. He caught on to their game quickly and started trying to find ways to set Jesus free. He began to probe into who Jesus thought He was. The deeper Pilate probed, the more frightened he became. He ordered Jesus whipped. Neither that nor the cruel game of the soldiers in which they mocked Jesus as a king, had any effect. The crowd wanted blood. Pilate had more weakness than pity in his makeup. He feared that if he released Jesus, he might be accused of not protecting Caesar’s interests, and he turned to jelly. Finally, like a man yielding to panic who murders a witness to silence him, he released Jesus to die. Jesus had never threatened the Empire of Caesar, but Pilate acted in haste and out of fear. He crumpled, and the trial was over.
In those days the condemned man had to carry his own crossbeam, a rough-hewn affair, to the place of execution. (The Greek word for the heavy crossbeam that Jesus had to carry is “stauros.” This is a Christian name in Russia “Stavros.” Occasionally you read of a Communist diplomat with that name — a case of bearing Christ’s cross whether you want to or not. There surely ought to be hope for a man like that, or an “Anastas,” which means “resurrection;” or “Vassily,” which means “king;” or “Nikita,” which means “victory” — all names taken from the mystery of Christ.) Jesus was dragged to the knob of sandstone outside Jerusalem where criminals were put to death in those days It was called Golgotha, “place of the skull” (Mt.27:33). “Calvary” says the same thing in Latin. Perhaps it was called that because of the remains of other crucifixions at the place. There is an old Christian legend that Adam was buried where Christ gave His life. That theory isn’t much good as history, but as theology it’s hard to improve on. What Adam lost for us, Christ regained. The father of death, Adam, lies at the feet of the first Victor over death, Christ Jesus.