They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where he prayed.
They led him through the streets in shame.
That spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said “Crucify him. He’s to blame.”
We all know those words of that song. And we know what comes next in it. The song contains some great thoughts, and helps us focus our minds on what is really important. But before we get into the song, let me tell you about how it was written.
Ray Overholt was a musician with his own TV show, “Ray’s Roundup,” for a time. But in 1958, something changed. He had left the TV show and started playing in nightclubs. He was drinking heavily. He said, “I began thinking there must be a better life than the nightclub, show-business whirlwind. I was so intent on changing my lifestyle that I went home and told my wife that I was quitting all of the smoking, drinking and cursing. I wanted to cleanup my own life.”
“One day I thought to myself: I’ve written secular songs, I’d like to write a song about Christ. I opened the Bible, which I knew very little about, and began to read the portion of Scripture that describes Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane telling Peter to put away his sword. I read where Jesus told Peter that He could ask His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels. I didn’t know at the time that would have been more than 72,000 angels.”
“I thought a good title for a song would be He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels. I didn’t know what happened during the life of Christ, so I began doing a little research. The more I read about Jesus, the more I admired him for what He had done. I then remembered that He did this all for me.“
“I was playing in a nightclub in Battle Creek, Michigan, when [I started] to write the song. I wrote the first verse and put it in my guitar case. I then gave the club my notice that I was quitting. As I opened my guitar case to put my instrument away, one of the other musicians saw the music written out and he asked, ‘What are you doing there?’ I told him I was writing a song about Jesus. He asked the title and I told him. He said, ‘It will never go.’ I asked why? He said, ‘I don’t even like the title.’ But I finished the song and sent it to a publishing house, which reluctantly agreed to publish it.”
And the rest is history. The song has become one of the favorites of Christians all over the world.
Let’s think back to the time described in the words of this song.
The Arrest of Jesus
It’s late at night, and after spending several hours with His disciples, Jesus goes off alone to pray. He looks at Peter, James, and John, and says, “you guys stay awake and keep a lookout while I go pray.” Then Jesus goes further into the garden, falls on his knees, and agonizes in prayer. He is incredibly stressed to the point where he is sweating as it were great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He gets back up and finds that His disciples sleeping. He wakes them up, and it’s not much later that a large group of soldiers, led by Judas, comes and arrests Jesus. “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound Him” (John 18:12).
Jesus, the innocent man was arrested and chained as a common criminal, and led away for trial. The soldiers shove Jesus through the city on the way to the high priest’s home. People hear the noise and begin to look out their window and see Jesus in chains. The man who had—just days earlier—been greeted with cries of “Hosannah” as He rode down the street in Jerusalem as a King, was now being led down the street in the early morning hours as a prisoner.
“Again, the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest rent His clothes, and saith, “What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?” And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him.” (Mark 14:61-65). The sinless Savior stood there while the crowd condemned Him to death and spat on Him.
“And Pilate said again to them, What do you desire then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him! Then Pilate said unto them, Why? What evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him!” (Mark 15:12-14)
They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where He prayed.
They led Him through the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said, “Crucify him! He’s to blame!”
The Mockery of Jesus
Jesus has been dragged from one mock trial to another. The Sanherdrin condemned Him to death, and spat on Him. Herod rejects Him because Jesus wouldn’t speak against the accusers. Pilate showed himself as spineless and washed his hands of the whole situation. Then Jesus is scourged—whipped across the back until the muscles and bones in his back are clearly visible. Then he’s turned over to the soldiers for them to do whatever they want before they kill Him.
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and the whole band of soldiers gathered around Him. And they stripped Him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit upon him, and too the reed and smote him on the head. And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his own rainment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:26-31).
They put a robe on his bleeding back. They twisted up thorn vines and put them on his head. They mocked him in fake worship. They took the reed and started hitting him on the head, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head. And during this whole time, there was no one there defending Him. He was by Himself.
Upon His precious head, they placed a crown of thorns.
They laughed, and said “Behold, the king!”
They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name.
All alone, He suffered everything.
The Crucifixion of Jesus.
Jesus is beaten and bloody. His face is unrecognizable. And they nail his hands and feet to the cross. Jesus is hurt, exhausted, dehydrated, sleep-deprived, mentally spent, but still determined. He is still thinking clearly. But as He’s raised up on the cross to begin His final torture before dying, He looks at the crowd that’s gathered. Through the blood that’s run into His eyes, He sees Mary, His mother. As He’s on the cross, struggling for every breath, He makes sure His mother is taken care of.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary of Clophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son!” Then saith He to the disciple, “Behold, thy mother.” And from that hour, that disciple took her into his own home.” (John 19:25-27).
Everything had been taken care of. It was all about over. The last request of Jesus on this earth was a drink. “After this, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst.” Now there was a set vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon the hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” And he bowed His head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30).
The wicked work of the Jews in killing Jesus had finally accomplished their goal.
When they nailed him to the cross, his mother stood nearby.
He said, “woman, behold thy Son.”
He cried, “I thirst for water,” but they gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done.
The Other Side of the Story
The sinful work of man was done, but this was also in the plan of God—it was God’s grand plan to bring about redemption. Jesus didn’t fight the mob. Jesus didn’t resist the authorities that falsely arrested, accused, and condemned Him. He refused the drink that would have helped to deaden the pain. He took the full force of His death. He was taking on the full punishment for sins, and nothing was held back. The entire world’s sins were on His shoulders while He was on the cross, and He had no helper. No one to help shoulder the burden. It was all on Him. And then He died, and His death made salvation possible for all men.
“And Jesus cried with a loud voice” (Mark 15:37) “He said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30).
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
“For the preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness. But unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
To the howling mob He yielded. He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried “It’s finished,” He gave Himself to die.
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done.
The Self-Control of Jesus.
Peter, the impetuous sword-wielding disciple of Jesus Christ, tried to stop these events from taking place. In the garden, when the soldiers came to take Jesus, Peter stood up for His master and attacked.
“And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place. For all they that take up the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:51-54).
He could have called ten thousand angels
to destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
BUT…He died alone, for you and me.
He could have avoided it all, but He died alone for you and for me.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
“Behold now is the accepted time, behold NOW is the day of salvation.”