The Passion of the Christ Included a Very Lonely Cross
Posted by James Hall on
Most of my life I have consciously benefited from the passion of Jesus, the Christ. After seeing Mel Gibson's movie, for the rest of my life I will more deeply appreciate the pain that Jesus embraced in His human body so I can know Him. He decided to die out of His love for all humans who all need to be loved by Him. Jesus clearly stated, "I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18)
Jesus willingly suffered the full punishment that God's justice requires for our sin. Part of that was physical pain. God arranged Jesus' earthly circumstances so humans could torture Him to physical death. But before His natural death came, He experienced in His spirit God's wrath for man's sins in a way that equaled eternal suffering in hell. This was apparently completed before Jesus' physical death, as indicated by His victory shout from the cross, "It is accomplished!" Jesus "paid in full" for our sins! The price tag on our lives shows how much we are worth to God.
One significant part of Jesus' pain that day is a factor often overlooked. Jesus told His disciples in the garden that even though they would soon desert Him, He said, "I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." (John16:32) The disciples had often heard Jesus make reference to His "Father", reflecting their eternally and ultimately close relationship. Jesus was also looking forward to eternally rejoining His Father in heaven. (John 17:5) But a dark chasm of alienation opened up between those two eternities!
In the middle of His crucifixion, Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?" (Mark 15:34) For Jesus to suffer the equivalent of hell for our sin, He had to experience total separation from God's presence and love, in addition to the felt pain of hell. Jesus was left alone in the universe. He could not address God as His "Father" while alienated from Him on the cross. He could only cry out in confused terror to ask why He had been deserted by the One He had lived with and for throughout eternity past. He could see no evidence of reunion on its way. He could only suffer in the suspense of totally blind faith.
Celebration breaks out in heaven when Jesus shouts in triumphant from the cross: "It is accomplished!" The celebration swells when Jesus concludes His time on the cross with: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!" God the Father runs to welcome home His first born prodigal Son - with many others to follow. The Father "rejoices in the presence of the angels". "Let us eat and be merry," He says, "for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found!" Amazing grace says the invitation to rejoice was issued again when I "came home" to my welcoming Heavenly Father!
Because Jesus was lost and found, I can sing with the songwriter: "I stand amazed in the presence, of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner - condemned, unclean!"