Worse Than Crucifixion

Worse Than Crucifixion

Good Friday – a day that only can be proclaimed good because Easter Sunday follows it. What seemed to be the shocking end of Jesus’s brief, but stunning career of preaching and miracles became so much more through the Resurrection. And, yet, the shock of his death caused all of his followers to forget all of Jesus’s predictions.

Imagine you were one of his early followers. What thoughts might be going through your head on the day of his crucifixion? Perhaps some of these thoughts: How could the people turn on Jesus after he healed so many of them or their relatives and friends? What happened to their joyful welcome of Jesus as their king entering Jerusalem on [Palm] Sunday? What’s happening?! I thought Jesus was the Messiah – the great rescuer of the Jews. No, no, no – this isn’t supposed to happen!

And, yet, this was supposed to happen. You might think that Jesus didn’t know what kind of death he was facing but he did know – and he shared his knowledge with his closest followers. Mark 10:33-34 (NIV) records Jesus as saying: 

“‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.’”

The Gentiles were the Romans – they were the only ones with power in Jerusalem to kill anyone officially. And how did they kill people who were not Roman citizens? They crucified them. A horrible, painful death. Typically crucifixion victims died over the course of a few days as they fought excruciating pain simply to take a breath – having to push their body up via nailed feet, raw nerves crushed with blunt iron. And, yet, this wasn’t the worst to come for Jesus. There is pain worse than physical pain.

What could be worse than a tortuous death? A tortuous death, even one that could last for days, doesn’t compare to eternal love being broken. At the time of the final daily sacrifice in the temple, at three in the afternoon, Jesus took upon himself the weight of all human selfishness, sin, and rebellion against the Lord God – our Creator. Jesus, the one who lived in eternal love and unity as God together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, was rejected. In one moment in history, the one who is Love through an eternal three-in-one unity of three persons in one God, willingly turned His back on Jesus, and on God’s own eternal communal love, so that humans could be welcomed once again into communion with God. Mark records this pivotal moment in history, in eternity, as follows, in Mark 15:33-34 (NIV):

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”

Jesus took on the worst pain of all – the pain of an eternal love broken in an instant. He was forsaken so that you and I can have peace with our Creator – the Lord God. Jesus rose from the dead to present himself as the perfect human who is also God. 

So, will we trust Jesus to represent us before God the Father? Will we let Jesus guide us to live out of a new identity as those in harmony with the Creator God and his perfect ways? His death tore down the barrier between us and the Lord. No elaborate rituals are required to talk with God anymore. We can pray by simply talking to Jesus. He promises that he will hear and answer us. So let’s recognize our lack of peace and call out to him with a simple “Help!” knowing that he has already loved us to death and he offers his powerful love to take us into eternal life too. 

And one day Jesus will come back and bring that eternal life to our broken world too and renew this Earth. Let’s join him and be a part of that new beginning – the promise of a greater resurrection of all good things yet to come but one that is just as guaranteed as Jesus’s own Resurrection.

Written by Hobbe Smit, Street Chaplain at Helping Hands Street Mission

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