Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 9, 2020

the facet of the last two

The weight of today’s darkness is almost too much for me to bear, and I am only right now sitting on my couch writing about it. His trials and sentencing seem like days ago now. His betrayal and capture … were they just last night?! I was sure the beatings and crowning and cross-carrying would be the worst of it. But then I recoil with every strike of the sledge as the soldiers drive the spikes into His wrists. The sound of metal-on-metal pierces my ears, and I fight back the gag as I hear the pooled blood gurgle in the back of Jesus’ throat as He cries out in pain. This is altogether too much. But then there is the truth of where we find ourselves, standing near the end of the fifth hour after sunrise with those who are gathered on the hill of Golgotha. My dear and beloved Savior has yet to take the last two swallows of the cup the Father has poured.

Storm clouds have been forming all morning. The wind begins to howl, and I’m not sure there’s a name yet for the color the sky is becoming. There are deep-throated rumbles in the distance that are like nothing I’ve heard before. A blinding bolt of lightning awakens the darkening horizon. Its ferocious crack causes me to cower. There’s little option for protection in this clearing on the hill. My fearing for His life is overcome by the fear for my own. As the lightning strikes again so does the sixth hour. The time for the final two swallows has come. Not even a hint is given in scripture as to the timing or detail, but I suspect it is with great immediacy that the first swallow is taken. It is the lesser of the two, but it seems so very wrong to use that word in referring to what’s about to happen.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)

We most often hear this part of redemption’s work described as Jesus bearing the burden of our sins on the cross. While this is true, I don’t believe it describes the fullness of its truth. Wording it that way can lead one to believe that our sin was an external weight thrust on our Savior, that He somehow carried like His crossbeam or God laid across his shoulders as He hung on the cross. What the Father gave Jesus, sometime soon after the sixth hour, was not simply a weight placed on Him. No, this was Jesus becoming sin and bearing it in His body. I believe this to be the first of the last two swallows Jesus took of the Father’s cup. And, further, was only second most on His mind when Jesus pleaded with the Father to take the cup from Him just hours ago in the Garden.

The moment the Father made his Son to be sin, was the first and only time there was disunion in the Trinity. Does that mean Jesus became only fully human for the time He became sin? In knowing the nature of God, even as incompletely as I do, I could believe that confidently. But I will leave that for theologians to say or not say. One thing I can very clearly understand is the way Creation shuddered and buckled when battered by the most violent conditions imaginable. This was the full force of the Almighty turning His back on His only begotten Son. This was the action that brought the Father’s cup to our dear Savior’s lips for the very last time, demanding the last and most bitter swallow.

Separation.

These were the most significant three hours in all of human history. 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 fully man — meant giving up everything. For three excruciating hours, Jesus hung on the cross utterly alone. And in what can only be described as an act of descending into Hell itself (Hell being the place of very real separation from God), God was forced to turn His back on His Son. Can you understand now the droplets of blood in His praying in the Garden? Do you hear His words differently now, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”? (Matthew 26:39 – ESV). At the ninth hour after sunrise on the morning that changed the world forever, Jesus cried out to his Father and took His last breath. It was finished. Sin’s debt and its penalty had been paid. Death itself was the only thing left to be defeated. He would do that soon, just as He said He would.

We have spent the better part of this week focused on the Friday that must be gone through in order to get to Sunday. Pope John Paul II once said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” We are at a time and place where it is good and right to hear that. We mostly see backwards through history. We know His death was not only His death. Our focus this week has given words to my belief that it is also good and right to look forward through Christ’s suffering and sacrifice to see Resurrection in its full glory. In this way, the darkness amplifies our praise when we awake to the rapturous beauty of Resurrection morning! In one more sleep (the way we used to mark time when our boys were very young that still makes me smile to this day when it’s said), dawn will break with the most unimaginable hope and Light! Our senses will be overwhelmed once again with wonder as the story is told of His waking and walking out of the tomb!

I have one last facet to share tomorrow, before we turn our eyes to catch a glimpse of the radiant Risen One. Thank you for walking this road with me. Only a few steps left to take.


Responses

  1. I have read how when the Jesus film is shown to people who know nothing of the gospel that when this part of the story is on the screen the people become so distraught they they have to stop the film to calm them and assure them that there is more before they can continue. They may understand the impact of that day more than I do….


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