Of all the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, there is one that leaps out at me more than all the others. Perhaps it is because of the sheer magnitude of what is about to happen to him. Maybe it’s the fact that the humanity of Jesus is front and center.

Whatever the reason, there in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus uttered a statement that for over two thousand years has been studied, preached about, and been the source of countless debates.

As the hour of His death approaches, Jesus does what he has always done for the past three and a half years. When he feels he needs encouragement and strengthening, he withdraws from his disciples and begins to pray to His Father.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.   Luke 22:41-43 emphasis mine

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me” is the anguished cry from Jesus. We understand, of course, that the cup that Jesus was referring to was the impending scourging of His Body and eventual crucifixion.

While I am not a scholar or a theologian, I believe that there was far more to this cup then we may suspect. So, with that in mind I ask that you allow me, an ordinary, simple man that loves God, to share with you what I believe was in that cup.

Fear…yes, there was fear in that cup. Jesus had no doubt seen many crucifixions. After all, it was a preferred method of execution by the Romans, one reserved for slaves and the worst of the worst criminals. So common was crucifixion in those days that it hardly drew the attention of the masses. [1]

Rejection…Jesus had already experienced the rejection of His disciples. As gallant as they may have tried to appear on the surface, when it came down to a choice of whether to identify with Christ, and thus risk death, or  flee to safety, all of them chose the latter. Add to this the weight of scripture that refers to him as a man despised and rejected, a man acquainted with grief, and you can begin to get a sense of the magnitude of rejection he felt. [2]

Humiliation…There were many ways the Romans could have chosen to kill Jesus, yet the scriptures foretold that He would be crucified. Crucifixion was a humiliating way to die. Unlike the popular paintings we are all familiar with, the ones that for modesty’s sake depict Christ partially clothed, the fact is that Jesus hung on that cross completely naked. Beaten, bleeding, forsaken, and now humiliated before his family and a multitude of mockers. [3]

Suffering…The Romans chose crucifixion as a means of inflicting the most amount of pain and punishment possible on a human being. Crucifixion was a slow, agonizing, and tortuous method of execution typically reserved for the most violent of criminals. Though modern medical science has attempted to describe in accurate detail what happens to a person who is crucified, our minds struggle to grasp the horror of such barbarity. [4]

Darkness

The gospel of Mark tells us that it was the “third hour” when Jesus was crucified. A day began at six o’clock, so it would have been nine o’clock in the morning when this took place. [5]

For three long, tortuous hours Jesus endured the agony of the cross. The taunts and jeers of the crowd, the insults, the mocking. He endured it all for three hours. Then, something happened that had never happened before.

From the sixth hour [noon] until the ninth hour [3:00 PM], darkness came over all the land. (Matthew 27:45)

This wasn’t a solar eclipse, as some have tried to explain. No solar eclipse lasts for three hours! It was if God Himself suddenly cast the world into darkness.

Separation…Darkness had settled over the earth. Many believe that this is the moment when God looked away from His Son. Because Jesus became sin for all of mankind, their thinking is that because God is Holy, He cannot look upon sin and therefore was forced to look away.

While I understand this train of thought, I think there’s was another reason.

Eons before God ever created man and placed him in the garden, sin was present in the form of rebellion against God. The angel Lucifer had permitted pride to enter his heart, and he decided that he would be as God. [6]

From that moment in time God has had to look upon sin, and there has never been a moment since that He hasn’t been looking upon sin. From the fall of man in the garden to the sins you and I committed today, God has looked upon sin.

If He were not able to look upon sin, as the common thought is, why then did God not turn away from you and I while we were still sinners? How is it that He looked to us instead of away from us, if it is true that He cannot look upon sin?

The answer is obvious, isn’t it? The fact is that God can and does look upon sin. He never looks away from us because of our sins, just as He never looked away from Jesus because he had become sin for all of mankind.

Why then, did God look away from Jesus while he was on the cross? It is because Jesus had to die completely alone. With no support from his disciples or family members, and especially not from his Heavenly Father.

As impossible as that sounds and as hard as it is to believe, Jesus was alone on that cross. He had to be, there was no other way for Him to bear our sins except that He did it all alone. Being made the scapegoat meant going it alone.

It is important to remind ourselves that God never stopped loving his Son. On the contrary, Jesus said “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (John 10:17). How could his Father cease to love him while he was willingly laying down his life? How could any father do such a thing?

No, the Father did not stop loving the Son during those three long hours of darkness. But for Jesus to bear the sins of the whole world alone, He had to be separated from this love.

Think of this: Jesus is now in a place where he has never been: the love that the Father and Son have enjoyed for all eternity, is now for the very first time beyond his grasp.

And on that cross, the sinless Son of God comes face to face with the sheer terror of this separation. This causes him to cry out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? Matthew 27:46

You see…God had to look away from his only Son, because had he not done so, He would have had to intervene. God did not look away because He couldn’t look upon sin. He looked away because if he hadn’t, He would have taken his Son off that cross in order to stop his suffering.

Just as any loving father would do.

And you and I, indeed all of mankind, would have been lost for eternity. God looked away from his suffering Son so that you and I could escape the punishment our sins demanded. He looked away from his only son and looked to you and me!

Which brings me to the final thing found in the Cup of Gethsemane. You must look hard to see it. You must look past the fear, the humiliation, the darkness and the separation to find it.

It’s cloudy at first, but the more you look at it begins to come into focus. Finally, you realize that what you are staring at is your own image. There, in the bottom of that cup lies a portrait of you.

When it was all said and done, it was your image that Jesus saw in that awful cup. And when He saw you, nothing could stop him from fulfilling His destiny to die for you on that Cross. When He saw you there in that cup, there was no turning back.

I am so thankful that Jesus Christ would die in my place on that cross. The Hell I deserved He himself willingly endured on the cross.

Good Friday and Easter mean redemption has been made possible through the blood of the spotless, sinless Lamb of God. My prayer is that all of us will take some time to reflect upon the enormity of such a sacrifice.

God bless you all,

Ron

 

[1] The history and pathology of crucifixion:   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14750495

[2] Matthew 26:56   But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefand we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

[3] Psalm 22:7,8   All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

[3] Psalm 22:16   For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

[4]The history and pathology of crucifixion:   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14750495

[5] Mark 15:25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

[6] Isaiah 14:12-15….How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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