Then they led him out to crucify him.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Mark 15: 20b-27
The longest journeys can be the ones that take us to something wonderful and long-anticipated – a holiday or to see a loved one. The day of travel seems forever in arriving and the hours drag.
But the hardest journeys are the ones that take us where we would prefer not to go. They are the most uncomfortable and trying – even if we would rather keep travelling than arrive at the dreaded destination.
Jesus journey to Jerusalem was one of anticipation and resolution. He ‘set his face’ towards Jerusalem and was determined to fulfil his purpose. So, in that way, it was the journey towards a longed-for goal.
But his journey from the upper room, via the garden of Gethsemane to the hill of Golgotha must have been long and exhausting because he knew what awaited him there.
He didn’t want to go through the pain and humiliation – though he was not afraid to die. In one of the most human passages about him in the Bible, it is his conversation with his Father in the garden that gives us the greatest insight to his feelings.
Emotionally he falters – just for a moment. ‘Isn’t there another way? Can’t this suffering be avoided?’
But Jesus taught his disciples to pray ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done’ and now, like any good teacher, he puts his teaching into practice. ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’
And, receiving the strength he needs, he gets up and continues the journey.
Almost at the end, he falters again – but this time, physically. No human being could have the physical strength to match his inner strength. And he was fully human.
The journey continued to the place of execution and the last hours dragged on until the mercy of death. But before his final breath, he uttered the words: ‘It is finished.’ Not in defeat, but in triumph – ‘I’ve done it. This longest journey is over’.