Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 25, 2016

He chose separation

In the last week of Jesus, Friday was a deeply dark day.  It is infinitely difficult to put into words.  It begs to be experienced and not merely “told.”  Yet, Friday is also a blessed day.  It could not have been death or resurrection which redeemed us, it had to be “and.”  This first act of “and” is the solemn and grievous gateway through which we must pass to reach the joyous and radiant hope of RESURRECTION!

Our Savior’s Friday broke with the brilliant light of a most meaningful Seder and ended in the desperate darkness of a tomb.  Our own walk with Him begins with a trip to the garden.  After Seder and a song (I wonder what they sang), Jesus invites the disciples on a walk.  When they arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus instructed the disciples to sit while He went off to pray.  He invited Peter, James and John to continue with him, then the Bible says, “… and he became deeply troubled and distressed.” (Mark 14:33b NLT)  Jesus shares with the three, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch.”  He leaves the three of them, walks a bit farther, and under the weight of something no one has ever born before, falls to the ground.  “Abba, Father,” Jesus cries out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.“ (Mark 14:36 NLT)

I have heard those words so many times before … Please take this cup of suffering away from me.”  For so long, I attributed those words to the suffering Jesus knew was coming on the cross road: being betrayed, denied and rejected by his own people; the physical brutality at the hands of the Roman soldiers; the spikes driven through his hands and feet and the thorns as they dug into his flesh.  I have come to believe, however, that those words don’t refer to the brutal physical and emotional suffering that was to come.  Rather, they refer to the most significant three hours in all of human history.  The hours when, for the first and last time ever, there was a separation in the Trinity.  I genuinely believe the cup of suffering Jesus was praying would be taken from him was separation from his Father.  This was the deepest pain imaginable to Jesus.  To give up being one with the Father – the intimate communion He experienced in eternity past and which sustained Him during the entirety of his days as a man — meant giving up everything.

I have learned and experienced so much about God in my role as a father.  And this revelation about separation became extraordinarily real as I readied myself for bed one night some time ago.  In that quiet space, with the thoughts of separation running through my mind, I began to feel intimately connected with the heart of God.  I became captured by a vivid memory of a time when my wife and two sons were visiting her parents for an extended weekend.  I miss my family terribly when we are separated, and that night their absence seemed especially painful.  On the way to bed, I walked into each of my boys’ rooms, grabbed a pillow from their bed and brought them to my room.  I spent what seemed like forever lying in bed, praying, holding tightly to both pillows, while laying my head on my wife’s.  Caught up in the memory of that moment, I drew so close to God I felt his arms holding me tightly.  Jesus, a Son with a heavenly Father, chose separation.  He wished for any other possible way, but He chose it.  For him it was a pain infinitely worse than the cruelest torture and death, but He was about his Father’s business … the business of redeeming the world.

Jesus chose the cross today.  He chose and endured separation today.  He died for us today.  Praise God!  In two more days, we will bask in the bright glow of resurrection, but I believe it is infinitely important that we sit a while with Friday.  Resurrection is incomplete without it.  The blanket of utter darkness which fell over the earth for those three hours that Jesus hung nearly breathless on the cross is the truest illustration of the incalculable sum of darkness from every human heart.  Every sin of every person who was, is, and ever will be born is illustrated in that darkness.  And it was for those sins, and more importantly, for us that Jesus chose the cross.  God’s redemptive story doesn’t find its punctuation today.  Resurrection is coming!  But for today, may we sit a while with the weight of what He chose for us.  He chose separation.

6_passion friday_He chose separation


Responses

  1. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Wow! The cup of separation!?!


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