Crucified with Christ?

Today is Good Friday and, as this day approached, I have been reading John’s account of the last hours of Christ’s earthly ministry. I’m amazed by how many times in those last few hours Jesus was failed by those who claimed to love and follow Him.

As He celebrated the Passover supper with His closest friends, the twelve disciples, Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. And yet, Jesus willingly and lovingly stooped down and washed his feet anyway.

Christ foretells of Peter’s betrayal of Him. Peter, the rock upon whom Jesus would build His church, one of His closest of friends here on earth, a self-proclaimed devoted follower who said he would follow Him unto death, would then turn his back on Jesus three times. And yet, Jesus showed love to Peter before he’d uttered his first denouncement.

Jesus was treated like a common criminal, dragged from where He’d been praying and made to stand in front of jeering crowds, many of whom had welcomed Him in to Jerusalem just days before with shouts of “Hosanna!” As His accusers lied about Him, He didn’t even utter a word to defend Himself.

Jesus was spat upon, hit, dressed up and mocked, and flogged with whips tied at the end with razor-sharp bits of metal and bone…and He bore the pain without showing anger.

And this was all in advance of being killed in the most humiliating, excruciatingly painful method available to mankind in the first century.

In the garden – just moments, really, before He knew His ordeal would begin – Jesus prays to God with such deep sorrow. He describes Himself as feeling sorrowful, even unto death. In some ways, never is Christ’s humanity so real to me as when I read this account and imagine how deep His emotions must have been running. Because He is fully God, He knows the thoughts of those who have tested Him throughout his ministry. He sees through to the hearts and motives of men, and is never surprised or caught off guard by the wit or cunning of a particularly sharp Pharisee. He knows He’s about to be betrayed by one of His closest companions. He knows that He’s being maligned behind closed doors in Jerusalem, that murderous plots have been set in motion, that several details are being agreed upon and finalized to bring about His death.

And yet what catches my attention is that He cries out to God in sorrow. Sorrow! Think about this…what emotion would bubble up out of you if you were being put to the test in ways even remotely close to what Jesus lived through?

I know what naturally bubbles up out of me. Anger. Prideful defensiveness.

I’ve been maligned, and it makes me feel indignant. I’ve been lied about, and my response is to want to defend my character and set the record straight. I’ve been lied to, and the sense of betrayal is palpable.

Whenever I’ve been wronged in these and other ways, my immediate response is often to lash out. I feel the hurt, the indignation in my stomach and in my own rapidly-beating heart as I work to formulate my response. And the reality is made clear in those moments – I am not yet crucified with Christ as I should be, and I fail Him every bit as much as Peter did. The chasm of difference between what immediately registers in my heart in those moments, and what my heart’s cry should be, grieves me.

Jesus’ response was not marred by sin, like mine is. His response is one of pure sorrow, borne out of pure love. Kenneth Boa, in a study I am reading on Proverbs, had this to say about our inability to fathom the depth of God’s love for us:

  • Nothing in our understanding can grasp why an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-sufficient, holy God would choose to love insignificant people.

  • Nothing in our experience can explain why Jesus, God the Son, would willingly lay aside His power and glory to become imprisoned in a human body destined for a cross.

  • Nothing in our rationale can conceive how God could give His only Son as a sacrificial lamb to satisfy the sin debt for all (from Adam to end times).

  • And nothing in our human wisdom can perceive how, in Christ, God can grant us eternal life on the basis of the great exchange in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Good Friday marks the day when God’s redemptive plan for us began to culminate in the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. While it may be true that we can’t begin to understand why God would want a relationship with us enough to sacrifice His perfect Son, I pray that we would all spend time praising Him because He does, and because He paid the price for that relationship when we couldn’t.

Romans 5:6-11
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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