TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH (4/5/09-4/11/09)



“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:46

Whenever these words are read aloud in a message or in my private readings, I automatically begin to think of the anguish, pain and depression that our Lord was suffering at this moment.  I personally believe that in a way, as a unique experience in universal time, Jesus suffered as no individual ever has or ever will suffer.  He suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

First, the physical anguish that Christ experienced was tremendous.  By the time He spoke these words, He had endured the scourging of the cat of nine tails, a leather whip with sharp pieces of rock, metal and glass at the end.  After He was whipped with it 39 times, He would have little, if any skin left on His back.  He had been beaten, either with fists, clubs or even kicked.  This would have caused broken bones, bruising, along with numerous cuts and contusions.  That would have taxed Jesus’ circulatory system and His blood cells.  His beard had been ripped out, probably causing the tearing of His skin, and the crown of thorns (with thorns likely 1-3 inches long) had forcibly been beaten into His skull.  Not to mention the pain of having nails driven in Jesus’ wrists and feet.  All these multiple beatings and assaults caused a tremendous loss of blood, which would incite weakness, dizziness, infection, and organ and heart failure.  As the master carpenter was nailed to a wooden crossbeam, every cell of every drop of blood proclaimed a love the likes of which the world would never see again.

The mental anguish which Messiah had to suffer is likely never to be surpassed.  Noone could ever even imagine the lengths to which His mental status was taken.  It is likely that Jesus’ central nervous system would have been thrown into overload.  I wonder if it is likely that He would have encountered a vasovagal reaction through it all?  The stabbing pain from the abuse of His nerve endings in his outer extremities from the nails and thorns, as well as whatever destruction of the nerves (and possible the spinal cord) in his back would be enough to make any of us scream or pass out from the pain.  And try to image what thoughts must have been going through His mind.  What would be going through your mind?  Would it be something along the lines of, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

One could never imagine the emotional burden that Jesus Christ had to endure through this process.  What would it be like to have your own creation, which you had lovingly, carefully, “fearfully and wonderfully” designed and engineered, suddenly hate you so much that they would resort to putting you to death?  And don’t forget that just a few short hours before, He had been betrayed by one of His closest friends.  The rejection and hatred directed toward him would have been unimaginable.  Apparently, God could not even provide any help to His only Son, as it seems God the Father turned His back on God the Son when sin was imputed on Christ.  How would we feel, if our father, in our deepest, darkest, most needful moment of our existence, chose to turn his back on us?

Finally, the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ suffering had to be the most tragic, and the most difficult for Him to experience.  As Jesus hung on this cross, He who knew no sin, became sin for us.  He who was holy, pure, perfect and just became dirty, imperfect, corrupted and guilty.  He allowed God the Father to crush Him to satisfy the sin debt for us.  How spiritually devastating and painful this experience had to be!

On another spiritual note, if you will examine the Gospels, you will notice that every time Jesus addressed the Father, Jesus referred to Him as Father.  But this one time, the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, He who was proclaimed to be the image of the invisible God, could not even call His own Father “Father.”  He had to call Him ”God.”   Even as I type these words, I am literally weeping and sobbing at the thought.

But this devotion should not, and will not dwell only on the tragedy.  Because in the midst of all of this tragic anguish, there is a triumph.  Through the vicarious suffering, we have a victory.  Just before Christ “gave up the ghost” and died, He proclaimed, “IT IS FINISHED!”  This magnicent proclomation says more than it appears on the surface.  The Greek word for this statement is teleo, which was the same word which was written on a bill of debt after it was paid in full.  Praise God, my sin debt was paid in full on the cross.  Just as Chris Tomblin wrote in his wonderful song, Amazing Grace-My Chains are Gone, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free!  My God, my Savior has ransomed me!  And like a flood, His mercy reigns.  Unending love, amazing grace.”

Tragedy and triumph.  Amen!


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