Via Dolorosa

We’re currently in what is known as Holy Week, the final seven days before the resurrection of Jesus announced to all and sundry that the longest war was won, and that Yahweh had won it. However, as of now, we still have two days until Good Friday, when the longest war was actually won.

However, that is not what this post is about. It is common, during this time, to focus on the anguish Jesus felt in Gethsemane, as death came for him, not with a scythe but with scissors. It is common to focus on the horrible, agonizing details of the crucifixion. It is less common to discuss the spiritual pain of Christ on that cross. Consider the statement that “he made him to be sin who had no sin.

We don’t really get what that means, I think. We are born in sin. We wallow in it. We cuddle it. Often we abhor it, but that is only when it takes a form not to our liking. Jesus, however, not being a man of sin, saw its true face, and knew it for what it was. To really get how awful this was for Jesus, imagine every cell in your body becoming malignantly cancerous.

Simultaneously.

And you live through it for hours.

Oh, and then your beloved father can’t look at you anymore, and closes the door.

And even then, I don’t think I really grasp it.

However, it is not altogether uncommon to discuss the spiritual suffering of Christ on the cross. What is uncommon is the focus of this post: What Christ went through in the thirty-three years that he lived here on earth.

To begin with, we’re not told what exactly “emptying himself” meant, but given the incident of the woman at the well and various other occurrences, it probably did not mean giving up omniscience.

Imagine walking around, all day, every day, knowing the exact fate of every person you see. Knowing their hopes, their fears, their desires, their fantasies, their sins, their triumphs, their tragedies, from birth to death. And, trumping all of that–could you handle knowing–knowing–who would be in heaven or hell? Think about that for a second. Could you hold up under all that? For even yourself, much less even one other person? I know I sure couldn’t.

But, let’s keep going. Imagine being the only living human in a world of zombies–who, by the way, you love, and desire to make better, despite their constant attempts to eat your brains. By the way, they’re also decomposing right in front of you, little critters and all. That is, spiritually, how we probably looked. And remember, the Lord looks at the heart. And, let’s face it, the above analogy probably understates things.

Ouch. I had no idea this would be quite such a downer.

Then there’s the general pains of being human, added on to this. The pain of having your words misunderstood, in some cases deliberately, losing people you loved and cared about, sickness, disease, sore feet, etc. Oh, and temptation to sin, which, to Jesus, was the equivalent of being sexually propositioned by a month-dead corpse. All of this did Jesus go through, and none of it did he deserve. He was not under the curse of Adam, he had not rebelled against God. But he bore our burdens anyway, and bore far more besides.

Let us all think upon this, this Good Friday.

‘Til next time,

Lowell Van Ness

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