Around the world, multitudes of Christians fill churches today commemorating the death of an innocent young man. A man who willingly submitted to a horrific scourging before being led to death by crucifixion.
Nailed wrists and feet to a wooden cross beam attached to a post so near the ground he could hear the sobs and cries of mother, brothers, sisters and those he loved over the past 3 years. So near the ground that he couldn’t help but hear the jeers of those who thought him a charlatan and pale image of the Messiah they long awaited.
Crucifixion leads to death by asphyxiation. It becomes impossible to inhale since the weight of the body is supported only by the stretched arms. The condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. In order to take a breath, the crucified would have to draw himself up by his arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes. (from Wikipedia).
It was the cruelest form of punishment for those who had committed criminal acts. In Jesus’ case, he had been accused and found guilty of blasphemy by the Jewish leaders and a crowd hungry for blood. He had, after all, not lived up to their expectations. Expectations that he would lead them out of bondage to Rome.
We sit in our comfy seats listening to the same story we’ve heard year after year. A new twist on the old story by pastors seeking to help us understand the why, what and how. But no one can draw us into the story and lead us to experience what it was for those who stood by, helpless to save the one they loved.
And not a single solitary human soul can lead us into the emotional experience of the man on the cross who willingly permitted his Father to take divinity from him. Take it and replace it with utter despair!
“My God, my God – why have you forsaken me!”
Of all the words it is recorded Jesus spoke during those 3 agonizing hours, none haunt me more than these. “My God, my God – why have you forsaken me?”
Have you been in the depths of despair? If so, then in a small way you can identify with Jesus’ heart-wrenching cry. If not, then no pastor can pour into your heart and soul the depth of what Jesus felt as PAPA took from him the precious relationship they had. A relationship that could not bear to align with the sin of man and his separation from God.
A number of years ago, I experienced what I called my “holy week” doldrums. I became angry at the slightest perceived slight. I was short with self and others. As Friday approached, I cried for no reason. My body ached and my chest hurt. I thought I was coming down with the flu.
Then Friday came. And each year on Friday, I became deeply depressed. I felt far away from the PAPA who had given me a glimpse of his Son one bright Spring morning. I couldn’t explain it and I certainly didn’t look forward to a week we’d come to call “Holy”.
One Good Friday, I sobbed and railed. “Why”, I asked. “Why do I feel this way?” Those haunting words spoken from the cross flooded through me – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In that moment, PAPA spoke. . . “You bear his wounds in your soul and on your heart. I want you to experience a sense of what He endured for you. For all humankind.” The silence was deafening as I wrapped my head around what had been impressed on my mind.
Finally I had my answer to the angst I felt – and still feel as I approach the Friday we call “good”.
I no longer sit in a comfy church pew listening to pastors drone on about the meaning of Good Friday – seeking to weakly explain the why, what and how.
For no other reason than no man or woman can adequately tell us what a man submitted to, so each of us could have the opportunity to be united to His Father. United through Him and with Him.
There simply are no words that can reach the depths of despair He felt in those waning moments of a hot Friday afternoon when He breathed his last earthly breath, and committed His spirit to God.
“It is finished.”
With those words, He gave up earthly life. But with those words, the stage was set for the next chapter in the divine plan for man. The first day of the week was on the horizon. While earthly life was finished for Him; it was just beginning for those who would hear and believe.
Today as you celebrate a Friday we now call “Good” because it is good for us; put yourself in his shoes. Look at the cross with a different perspective. Look at it as the place an innocent man willingly died a ghastly death, filled with despair at the thought His Father had deserted him.
Remember the times someone has betrayed you when you were – for all intents and purposes – innocent. Recall the times when life was so difficult you sank into depression bordering on despair. Remember times when you felt God had turned His back on you and you were sick at heart.
When you do, you too will experience a sense of what the Lord felt as he suffered, bleed and died. As He cried out – “My God, my God why have you forsaken me!’
Then walk from where you are and know that Sunday is on the horizon for all who have weathered our Good Friday’s and come to know Him because of His willingness to die for all humankind.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-1/p160x160/10933880_10152999878054264_1749306739390848122_n.jpg?oh=3b9b3e144f0b306aa0cc748b03d9dd6a&oe=55550352&__gda__=1432002183_d9a5e0b3a35fc3cfbbe66ed7bc7658c9[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]