At The Foot Of The Cross

William J. Stewart | Faces Surrounding Calvary

We see many wonderful things when we look at those who were at the foot of the cross. Jesus, as He hung on the cruel tree, suffering pain for that which He had not committed, looking down saw many people. The soldiers who had nailed His hands and feet were there. Many other guards who mocked Him stood by. The chief priests and scribes, as well as a great following of people shouted cruel words of blasphemy. But as He looked down, there were some whom He saw that caused gladness in His heart. Some whom He saw were those whom He loved, and who loved Him. These people are of interest to us this week.

It was custom for a prisoner to carry the cross on which he was to be nailed. As Jesus walked the road of Calvary, we are introduced to Simon of Cyrene. Simon, for whatever reason, was compelled to bear the cross for Jesus. Aside from this, we are told nothing more about Simon. Words which Jesus spoke come to mind as I think of this deed of Simon’s, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” It is interesting, Simon, for but a moment, bore the cross that would free him from sin for eternity. When Jesus asked that we bear our cross, we should realize that in the eternal scheme of things, it is but for a moment, that we might gain life everlasting. We ought to feel compelled each day to bear a cross for the Lord. It is a humbling event, yet one which leads to life.

Luke writes, “…and a great multitude of people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.” As Jesus went to the cross, we are aware that He was followed by a herd of supporters. I used the word herd because that is exactly what they were. They realized the loss which was before them. He was their leader, their Shepherd, their guide. Without Him, they would be lost sheep. Thus, we are told they mourned and lamented. Among this crowd were several ladies of Galilee, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. These ladies had tended to Jesus’ needs for some time. They realized who He was, and were not willing to deny Him. Thus, they followed Him to a hill, and to an old rugged cross. It is interesting to note that they were not disciples of great stature, nor popularity. These were the quiet workers who had deep conviction, and great courage. When the going got tough, they stuck by Him. Will you do likewise?

Also, among the people who were at the scene of the cross were John, the beloved disciple, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The pain which these two must have felt is unimaginable. Mary had given birth to Jesus. She helped Him with His first steps. She fed Him, and cared for His every need as a child. When He hurt Himself, as children often do, she was the one who bandaged Him. She assisted in training Him in the ways of God. As He grew older, she proudly looked on as He talked with the religious leaders. Ad He began His ministry, she took was with Him. She was witness to His first recorded miracle performed at Cana, and no doubt many more to follow. We may never understand the feelings bottled up inside this woman’s heart that day. Many lost a Good Friend, a Leader, a Saviour — she lost all this, and a Son. Do we realize the price that was paid for our sins? If we did, we would show the utmost gratitude for the sacrifice made there. We were bought at a great cost!

John was one of Jesus’ inner circle of friends, and was spoken of as the “beloved disciple”. John had been with Jesus from the start. He knew Him to be the Christ. He believed such with all his heart. But when Jesus was taken into custody in the garden, we are told that all forsook Him. John included. John had run off, but he soon came back. There are times in which fear will take over, and we may choose to do wrong, but we must be like John. He returned. He was there all through the trial. He followed Jesus to the foot of the cross, unashamed, unmoved by the crowds. He watched as his Saviour died. He watched as his Friend died.

The people at the foot of the cross give us much to think about. Simon bore a cross, a heavy cross. It was a cross which he could have said, ‘It’s not mine’, and yet it was. Simon was willing to bear the cross, are you? The ladies from Galilee show us perseverance and courage. The chosen apostles had run away in the face of danger, they did not. Will you face danger, embarrassment, and mocking to be faithful to Him? Mary reminds us of the great cost paid for our sins. He was a Friend of many, and her Son. Greater still, He was the Son of God most high. Our sins are removed at great cost! John’s example encourages us to come back. When we have failed, come back. When we have run away in fear, come back. Jesus was glad to see these disciples there. Surely He would be glad to see us near Him as well.

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