“Hanging blameless on a cross, He would rather die, than leave us in the dark”
It is the darkest day in history. It is also one of, if not the greatest, stories ever told. We start at Christmas celebrating the baby Jesus Who, as Bebo Norman so accurately describes, came to Earth as a baby born to die.
In a few days, most of us will pause to remember that dark Friday when Jesus took our sins on our cross. We will all be looking forward to Sunday too. Because Sunday reminds us that He is alive and because of His miraculous resurrection, we enjoy relationship with him; we enjoy community with Him; we enjoy freedom because of Him.
I grew up hearing the same version of the crucifixion story—often graphic descriptions of the time that Jesus spent hanging on a cross with crowds mocking Him and Mary grieving Him. I watched “The Passion Of Christ”—ONCE and through mostly closed eyes.
It’s too much to comprehend, I am still in awe that He loved me enough to endure the physical suffering so that my sins are covered and it will always be finished.
But I have always loved the time that Jesus spent in the garden before being ushered to that hill where He would lose His life, so that I can have mine. His time in the garden, unlike His time on the cross, is something that I can “sort of” relate to, I think we all can.
Jesus knew that the time had come, and he told his followers as much. He took them all to the garden, but asked most of them to stay back so that He could spend some time in prayer. I am not a Bible scholar but my guess is that Jesus, being fully God but also being fully man, needed to hear from His Father, not unlike encouragement and love many of us need in difficult situations. Different people say different things about His time in the garden, and I am not here to argue whether Jesus was trying to get His Father to change His mind when He asked for the cup to be passed from Him. However, I think everyone agrees that perhaps what may have grieved Jesus more than anything (including his followers falling asleep at such a time as that) was the separation (albeit temporary) that He would endure from His Father.
The orphan Jesus.
That separation was necessary because Jesus, Who knew no sin, took our sin and the Father could not enter into that with Him. Some translations go so far as to say that when Jesus was on the cross, and the world got dark, that the Father literally turned His back on His son. He left.
The orphan Jesus.
I do know a little bit about being abandoned in my greatest time of need and so do you. It may look different, but make no mistake, almost everyone has at least FELT abandoned by God at some point and some of us have actually been abandoned by those who were supposed to stay. The Bible has much to say about orphans and how they are the marginalized, how they are the forgotten and how they are lost without others to stand in gaps. The Bible is so clear on this topic that there are over 100 verses commanding us about caring for orphans and widows.
Being an orphan is recognized by the God of the universe as one of the most difficult things one can encounter.
And the orphan Jesus CHOSE that–he chose it for you and for me.
But what about the orphan Jesus? Who stood in that gap, when he cried out:
“Abba, Abba, why have You forsaken me?”
Who answered Him?
If it is true (and I believe it is) that our sin separated Jesus from His father at His greatest hour of need, then our Jesus, our sweet Jesus spent some time as an orphan—an orphan Who saved the world.
For some of us, having parents is foreign and certainly having the protection and unconditional love is. Our hearts ache for those things we didn’t have and never will and questions abound, regardless how many trips we have made around the sun. It is a scar on our hearts that tells the story of lonely and scary times. I wonder if it looks like the scar of the heart of the orphan Jesus? But I am still struck that He didn’t have anybody, nobody, the Father was not there.
It makes his sacrifice more precious to me by a factor of 10.
Some of you know that pain of being left or abandoned. We all know the pain of the perception of same. And most of us have both healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with that. We are not wired to be left; Jesus was not wired to be left.
That is why is sacrifice is such a HUGE deal. He loves you that much!
When I think of the crucifixion story in this context, tears abound because while the physical pain inflicted on my Jesus on that cross is not to be comprehended, I can’t imagine how it felt to be alone on that cross as the clouds darkened the world. I have spent my entire life leaning on the unconditional love and provision of God, and those things were given to me, an orphan, by One Who knows what it feels like to be alone in a scary world that is not kind.
The recognition of this truth, this year, has made this passage of scripture precious to me:
“He was wounded for our transgressions…and by His stripes we are healed”
I love that verse, I always have. But his orphan stripes and scars are healing me this Easter. Because I do not love a God Who can not enter into my sufferings with me. I always pictured the strips from the cat of nine tails, or the scars from the crown of thorns, or the scars from the nails. But this Easter, I am realizing that I have a few scars that look a little like His, but more importantly I will continue to let His sacrifice heal me, NOT an orphan, but a precious daughter of the most high God Who endured being an orphan, even if for a short time.
And for me.
Thank you Jesus.
He is risen.
He is risen indeed.