Recently during the time we were all together singing, several phrases from the lyrics chosen by the worship leader planted thoughts in my mind I have not been able to dismiss... "Amazing love-how can it be that you my king would DIE for me...I'm forgiven because you were FORSAKEN, I'm accepted-you were CONDEMNED...CRUCIFIED, laid behind a stone, you LIVED to DIE, REJECTED and ALONE-like a rose TRAMPLED on the ground...you took the FALL and thought of me ABOVE ALL." I could write nothing else and hopefully you would follow the same thought process as I had from the emphasized words. If you catch on ot the theme, Jesus definitely got the raw end of the deal. No matter what struggles I'm combating, it can't begin to come at all close to the physical and emotional suffering he endured. I am completely inept verbally to describe his experience. It sent me to the gospel of Luke to read again the last hours Jesus was alive in the flesh on earth. He went to the Mount of Olives to pray, asking his closest friends, his disciples, to pray as well. I think Jesus reveals his humanness clearly by asking God to consider taking the cross process away. An angel came to strengthen Jesus but his agony was not lessened, in fact it intensified to a degree that as he continued praying his body perspired drops of blood. I can only imagine his emotional state to cause that kind of physicial response. I can, however, ask you to remember that even though he was the son of God, he was also the son of man, and the full weight of fear swept through his mind and body as it would you or I... were we facing any component of the levels of trial and suffering he endured. It's only natural since he was human no matter how much he believed in the cause. I have experienced moments when choking was severe enough to make me think, "Is this it?" So this is how it feels when your body has a stronger grip than your will! It is frightening, and Jesus must have had similar thoughts as his weakened body sustained abuse...including a crown of thorns placed on his head.
He returns to find no one praying. Instead they are sleeping. Again he asks them to pray when a crowd of men approach being led by one of his apostles. Judas betrays him, Peter denies him, the high priest and officers of the temple mock and beat him. They take him to Pilate who, after questioning him, gladly sends him to Herod because Jesus was from Herod's jurisdiction. Jesus continues to be vehemently accused, questioned, and mocked yet neither ruler could find any reason for Jesus to die. Both wanted to release him but they succumbed to the cries of the crowd to crucify him! The only break offered to Jesus was for someone to carry his cross on the way to Golgotha, where he would then have nails driven through his hands and feet securing him to that cross.
In our society there are standards in place to ensure the best means possible for comfort in the last days and hours leading to a person's death. It is called hospice care. Jesus received no such care. The soldiers offered him sour wine to drink but nothing to make his death more comfortable. There were people present who loved and believed in him but somehow I think they were over shadowed by the many who didn't. He didn't have the luxury of family/friends/medical staff circling him, singing, praying, or reading scriptures to soften his exit. What he had was humiliation as his physical body was exposed and separation from God as he took on the dark, sinful places of mankind.
Two observations from the reading are important. Jesus continues his ministry even in crisis mode. In the garden, when approached by Judas, one of the apostles drew a sword in defense and cut an ear off the servant of the high priest. Jesus stops any additional fighting and heals the servant's ear. Two criminals were being crucified along with Jesus. One of them acknowledges the innocence of Jesus and Jesus assures him a place in paradise. Reading the gospels, it is clear to see his intensity by... his response to crowds, or a single individual, children as well as adults, positioning himself in a boat to allow more people to be able to hear him...just to name a few. Read the first four books of the New Testament to see for yourself! Jesus loved people enough to sacrifice anything and everything for us to accept his offer of forever protection and assurance of being eternally present with him. He had limited time with a big agenda. I understand his push. The last hours on the cross were dark even though it was daytime. At his death the earth quaked, rocks split, and the curtain in the temple that hid the most holy place was torn from top to bottom-signifying that God was not hidden but was available to everyone! The head soldier and the crowds that witnessed these events realized Jesus was innocent. Why couldn't they grasp his Lordship before his death? How could they witness or hear testimony of miracles and still doubt? We have a written account and yet there are people who don't believe. Pray for more to be open to the gift of salvation Jeus died to offer. Since I was led to write this by song lyrics, I think it appropriate to end the same.
"What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I could bring a lamb. If I were a wise man I could do my part. Yet what can I give him...give him my HEART.