Monday, August 3, 2009

Another thought...

This thought is a sad one. It's not really a thought, really. Just a picture that came to my mind this week.

In my Bible, there are a handful of verses that are underlined in pencil, and have this short label written in the margin; "One of the saddest verses in the Bible."

Do you spot them? Those sad verses? There are some that make me want to cry every time I read them. Some concepts make me cry, too.

Take, for instance, the concept of God the Father turning His face away from His Son when Jesus died on the cross.

I was sitting in church yesterday, trying to picture what it was like for God to die. He'd never died before. I wondered how He felt about death as He faced it, knowing that it wouldn't be permanent. Surely He couldn't fear it the way a human would.

I wondered how He felt about pain. I know He had a normal human body, with full ability to feel pain. Did He dread it? How much pain did He bear, anyway? Is there any way to measure such a thing? ...Yet pain itself, though dreadful, has its limits. It can only be so great - even though it be as mammoth as the pain all of Hell.

I imagined the garden, and saw the agony in Christ's face as He prayed there. I seemed to hear His voice in my head, crying "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me!" I even seemed to see the tears on His cheeks. I seemed to hear the dread of His voice.

What did He dread?

Bearing the wrath of God. Can there be any other answer?

At the beginning of His crucifixion, Jesus said "Father, forgive them." Even then, in His pain, He was talking with the Father. He was in fellowship with Him.

But then things changed. Darkness rolled over the hill of Calvary. A great dread, of they knew not what, must have fallen over everyone assembled there. Jesus was taking the sins of the world onto His back. And God the Father was pouring out His just wrath upon that sin.

Can our minds even begin to imagine the weight of that wrath?

But here is what tears my heart: With a sound that must have penetrated all the halls of the spirit world, God the Father turned His face away from God the Son. Because He could not look on such filth...such sin. The bond of eternity was, for a time, broken. The continual current that tied them together was gone.

Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Not "my Father." It was "my God." Jesus couldn't even call His own Father by His name. He was alone. Alone, under all that weight.

That is what I heard in my mind - a voice I can call back to my mind even now. I seemed to imagine the voice of Jesus crying "why hast thou forsaken me?" I seem to hear Him crying - screaming, even, in pain, that instant when God the Father was turning His face. Jesus bore so much physical pain quietly. But I cannot think that His lips would remain together when He felt God the Father turning from Him. It must have torn His heart.

It was the saddest, most agonizing, most truly awful moment in all of history.

And the answer to His question is a stab to my heart. Why did God forsake Him? Because He bore my sin. Because He had taken sin upon Him. He who had never known a moment of spiritual imperfection had taken more filth upon Him than any man will ever bear. And for that He was forsaken.

I cannot write this without weeping. Look at what He did! Look! There was never grief like His.

But also look at the glorious ending: Before He died, Jesus echoed the phrase the high priests had used through the centuries, when they came out from the tabernacle or temple and announced to the people that the yearly atonement for sin had been completed;

"It is finished."

The price was paid! Not just for a year, but for eternity.

It was only then that He said something that, to me, is almost as beautiful as the announcement of completed atonement.

"Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit."

He said "Father."

Ahhh. Now my spirit can rest.


Sandra said...

Thanks for sharing Amber. I had chills all over me, and my eyes watered :)

Ruth Ann said...

Wow, this is beautiful. I love the way you put it, and it caused me to think. The sacrifice is more than I can ever imagine and He is so amazing and so loving. How can people reject Him? Because they love their own sins...

Thank you.

Leah said...

Thank you Lord Jesus, for your sacrifice. For taking the cup of the wrath of God for me, and when you said, "It is finished" there was no wrath left for me. Oh may I always keep in sight the scenes of Calvary. For what vain thought can remain, when my eyes are filled with such a sight? Thank you Lord.