As I sit here, contemplating Good Friday this year, I’m moved to tears. How much did Jesus have to endure on the cross? It’s daunting for me to think about. The pain. He did it all for me.
It’s only been recently that I’ve really understood death. The process of dying and letting go. The deep emotions and the grief that follows. The Bible says that the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about when he warned them of his death. They didn’t comprehend it. And I wonder; is that because of God’s mercy on their lives? Think about being told by a Doctor that your loved one has only 3 days left to live. It would be overwhelming. The pain and the waiting and the questions. Maybe God spared them with the gift of naivety?
And Jesus, how did He cope with that knowledge. Fully human, fully God. The Bible says he knew what was coming; that He was going to be treated shamefully, spat upon, lashed and killed. How did He endure that? I can only compare it to the most painful experience I’ve ever had: natural childbirth. He knew it was coming and so did I. With each contraction I wanted to crawl out of my body, to somehow make it stop, get the pain over with. The Bible says He endured the worst of the worst. He could have called down an army of angels to rescue Him. Think about the self-control Jesus had. Not escaping the pain or crawling out of his body. He stayed and persevered until the end. He saw it through till death for the joy set before Him.
The only thing that got me through the process of natural childbirth was this single thought: my baby will be here soon. What was Jesus thinking on the cross? What was his joy set before Him? Was it me? Was He thinking about you? Each individual face flashing before Him; the children of God. Jesus’ love runs deep.
I know that I would place my body in between my child and a bullet. I can only imagine that was what Jesus was thinking. Let me place my body between God’s children and this sin. I will take the bullet so that they don’t have to. It’s incomprehensible; the pain of the cross.
In our society today, we try to give the elderly dignified deaths. We try to make them as comfortable as possible, pain free, surrounded by loved ones. We give them our words of gratitude and the gift of our presence while they pass from life to death. Jesus died the most humiliating death. He was “mocked, and treated shamefully and spat upon and lashed and killed.” He was not pain free, he was alone on the cross and his disciples were doubtful of his title, Son of God. How can He be the Messiah? He can’t even save himself from this awful death.
I want to let these thoughts sink in. The pain has to be real in order to grasp the wholeness of His sacrifice. The grief and tears were real among the disciples.
It’s the pain of the contractions that leads the mother’s body to produce the endorphins and the adrenaline. It’s the long labor that releases the oxytocin, the love hormone that bonds the mother to her baby. It’s the pain of the cross, that sets the stage for the power of sin to be broken. The long three days of grief that bonds the disciples hearts to their Master Jesus. He is so beautiful.
“And the third day I will rise again.” Lk. 18:33