Many years ago, the reality of Jesus’ physical suffering on the cross hit me with a vengeance. It drove me to my knees and birthed a greater love in my heart for the One who took the punishment that should have been mine. That’s a huge thing for a girl who has an extremely low threshold of pain! Each year as we approach Good Friday, I again go to the foot of the cross in amazement of what Jesus would go through to save me, a sinner.
But this year a new thought deepened that meditation. A couple of weeks ago we visited my brother’s church to celebrate my niece’s and nephew’s baptism. Their pastor, Dr. Jeff Warren, spoke of the suffering of Jesus during the crucifixion, how His that horrific physical suffering paled in comparison to the spiritual suffering of being separated from the Father. The reality of that slammed into me like never before.
Think about the mystery of that—the triune God separated for a moment in time, the Son forsaken by the Father. What kind of ripping apart did that cause? It makes my heart hurt and tears rise just to consider it such a thing with my finite mind. That, Dr. Warren asserted, was Jesus’ struggle in the garden, the reason He sweat drops of blood. Physical suffering would be hard, but Jesus had told His disciples not too much earlier not to fear those who could kill the body only. Yet to choose to hang on a cross and know that the sin laid upon Him would cause the Father to look away—that was the greater cup of suffering to bear.
Dr. Warren’s thoughts, however, did not end there. It ended with the fact that Jesus endured that momentary separation from the Father so that we would never know that pain, never have to suffer that same way. We might suffer physical pain beyond what we think we can bear, but once we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, the Father will never leave us, never turn His face away. I don’t know about you, but that truth drives me farther than my knees. It drives me to lay my face to the ground in worship of my Savior.