For those of us who have been Christians for a long time, we can become overly familiar with the events that took place in Holy Week, and so find ourselves missing out on the joy and peace that should be ours on Easter Sunday. Mindful of this, I recently felt drawn to look at John’s account of the crucifixion, not only because it brings a stark reminder of the cold cruelty Jesus faced but also because it highlights how God, in the Son, knowingly and humbly endured this for the sake of His great love.

From the outset, we are exposed to human brutality at its worst for it says that Jesus was forced into carrying the very cross He would be nailed to. Evidently, the Romans found real purpose in seeing people publicly suffer physically and mentally. Jesus was flogged, mocked and struck by the hands of Roman soldiers – in Matthew’s Gospel it also says that He was spat upon – before finally being stripped naked and raised up on the cross.

But what really gets to me is the fact that God went into this willingly. We know this to be true because the details John includes concerning Jesus’s death matches what had been prophetically foretold many centuries before. For example, Psalm 22: 16-17 says:

Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.

They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

The similarity with the events of Golgotha is uncanny and, if this is not enough, Jesus also quotes the opening line of Psalm 22 in Matthew and Mark’s accounts of the crucifixion, clearly referencing their crucifixion allusions: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

Christ’s death was not an unexpected event. Indeed, every time He walked past a condemned criminal or slave on a cross, He would have known that that would be His destination as well. God knowingly embraced human wickedness for the sake of our salvation, as emphasized in another prophecy from Isaiah 53:5:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

These verses help shed light on God’s purpose behind the suffering Jesus faced on the cross. He was ‘pierced for our transgressions’ and ‘crushed for our iniquities.’ Suddenly the rationale behind Jesus’ crucifixion comes closer to home. And here lies the deeper message. When reading the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion, we can so easily become passive observers of the Roman soldiers who inflicted untold cruelty on Jesus. Yet the prophet Isaiah helps us to understand that we too are in the story. Not by Jesus’ side, as we would hope, but rather with them – for it is our sins that effectively drove the very nails into Christ’s hands and feet that fixed Him to the cross.

And speaking of the cross, it is interesting that Pilate ordered the following inscription to be attached to Christ, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’. The chief priests, who had advocated for Jesus’ death, wanted it changed to, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews’, but Pilate refused. Whatever the reason for Pilate’s refusal to change the inscription, it ultimately pointed to the truth that Jesus is king. What’s more the inscription in different languages also helped to emphasize that the cross was for people of all backgrounds.

And so, whilst death by crucifixion was expressly designed as a way to bring public shame and humiliation, in His own submission, Christ overturned it for good, and for all humankind. His death was for our salvation and His glorification. As one commentator said, ‘No wonder the cross has become an eternal symbol of glory, victory and eternal life.’ This is something that we can all share in. Contemplating the violence of the crucifixion, and our effective role in its brutality through our transgressions, we can understand again the price He lovingly paid to forgive and redeem us, and can rediscover the joy and promise of His victorious resurrection.

For God, the cross was both painful and costly but it was not in vain because through it Jesus provided the means for the forgiveness of sins: as He said, ‘It is finished.’ These words emphasize God’s part in the redemptive story as Jesus accomplished His purposes on the cross. All that is left for people like you and me to do, is to continue believing in the Christ and to give thanks for the hope we find through His brutal death and glorious resurrection.


Manoj is pastor of Pinner Baptist Church, and Chair of the Board of the Evangelical Alliance. From a Hindu background, he is now passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with others and building a church family where people of all ethnicities and cultures feel valued, supported and released to use their unique gifts and talents serving the Lord. He tells his story in Filthy Rich.



Filthy Rich

‘Why not spend £35 million on one big day out?’ – The Daily Telegraph on Manoj’s growing property empire, 2005.

Manoj Raithatha appeared to have it all. A booming property company, a picture-book family and the power to shape his destiny. Yet behind the enviable façade, his reckless ambition was consuming him and wreaking havoc on his marriage.

Then his professional and personal worlds were shattered. The 2008 financial crisis devastated his business and a sudden illness threatened his son’s life. With his hollow foundations exposed, Manoj found himself utterly dependent on the prayers of others and the help of a previously unknown God. What happened next would forever change his life. Morally bankrupted by greed and selfishness, Manoj would have to build his life and marriage anew with different foundations.

With profound reflections on faith, identity and meaning, Filthy Rich addresses some of the burning issues of our day.

Published September 2022 (Instant Apostle), £9.99

See more

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash


Articles and Interviews