Holy Week, Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s hard to believe we are already at this point in 2012. This day signifies the darkest hour in Christ’s ministry on earth. Can we truly comprehend what He went through for us? I don’t think so.

Throughout the ages, Christ’s crucifixion has been painted, sketched, and sculpted. It has been expressed in a variety of artistic expressions such as Broadway plays, reenactments, movies, etc. Even in the most graphic of depictions, we still cannot grasp the true measure of horror He sustained out of love for us.

His beard was plucked out. He received 39 lashes (40 was considered a legal death) with tortuous whips and the like. He was humiliated, called names and spat upon. He was lied about, falsely testified against, denied by His people and abandoned by His friends. His hands and feet were nailed to wood. A crown of thorns was gouged into his head. He was stripped naked. He was laughed at, beaten, and beaten some more. He was plotted against, sold for 30 pieces of silver and traded for a murderous madman who won Christ’s innocent freedom. He was given an unfair trial, used as a political pawn, and His holy Kingship was made a public spectacle. He was offered bitter gall instead of water. He was forced to carry His own death contraption. He was denied food, sleep and fair representation. His clothes were gambled for, and He was sarcastically dared to save Himself. He was speared in His side. He was disrespected, despised, and dishonored. He neither fought back nor said a word in His own defense. He was mission-minded, solely focused on this purpose…obeying His Father and ransoming us with His blood.

These are only some of the agonies and sufferings Christ endured for us – you and me. How bad was it? So horrible that Jesus even asked God to allow Him to not to have to endure it. How loving and perfect is Jesus? He finished His request by submitting to God’s will despite knowing all that was about to take place.

Imagine what it must have looked like in the unseen realm. Picture the heavenly angels’ jaws agape as they watched helplessly on the sideline – just waiting for Jesus to give them the call to action. Picture the accuser and his minions cheering and jeering and mocking and taunting. Oh how silent Heaven must have been. How God must have agonized over watching His one and only perfect Son be the final blood sacrifice. He who didn’t deserve it in the least. Finally, God turns away – from Jesus. They have been in communion together since before time began, and now Jesus hangs alone on the cross – and He knows it. He was utterly, entirely, completely alone. Left to die. Yes, a few stood at a distance, but no one was beside Him holding His hand, stroking His cheek, kissing His brow. He hung alone. He, who is innocent, died a criminal’s death.

As He hung in the open air, carnivorous, scavenging birds circling His above His head, the world went about its business, feeling quite satisfied at the conclusion of His life. I think one thing that kept Him there, instead of calling the whole thing off in an instant (which He could’ve easily done!), was the thought of each of us. Did our faces pass through His mind? As He felt the weight of all of humankind’s sins press upon his shoulders, physically pushing down on the skin of His hands and feet, He knew every sin of every person throughout existence would commit. Did it all flash before His blood and sweat-stained eyes? Oh, the shame of it all.

But, did our faces also flash before Him? Did He feel a tug in His heart for us? I think so. He did not die quickly. He hung for hours. In those hours, did He remember our names? The Bible speaks of God remembering His children, having our names written on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), and keeping us as the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). Jesus, who is 100% God and 100% man, perhaps whispered our names under His breath This is for you, ________. Oh, the love of it all.

Scripture tells us that He didn’t even look human by the time it was finished. He was, indeed, unrecognizable. It hurts my head to try to comprehend it.

Today, wherever you are and whatever you are doing – hold Christ close to your heart knowing He went through everything so you wouldn’t have to. Yes, He loves you and me that much. Focus on what He did and why He did it. There is no skirting this dark day. As uncomfortable as it may be to go there in our minds, may our hearts receive the Truth that He would have done it all – even if each of us were the only person ever created.

Walk through Good Friday remembering Christ’s walk to the cross.

Scripture to meditate on…

Matthew 26 – 28

Mark 14 – 16

Luke 22 – 24

John 17 – 21

Isaiah 53:1-9 

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

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