It’s raining today. Thunder and lightning too. When the house trembled from one particularly loud peal, I thought of that terrible day many, many years ago. The day that my Creator died. The Bible tells us that as Jesus hung on the cross there was darkness over the land for three hours; when He breathed His last the earth shook and rocks were split. The Life-Giver had given His life.
Often on Good Friday my thoughts tend to drift towards what I gained from His sacrifice rather than what He offered. I think of my salvation rather than His death; my joy instead of His sorrow; my peace versus His torment; my reward over His pain. But not this year. This year I am pondering that darkness that consumed His spirit as He toiled through the remaining hours of His life. The shadow of Calvary’s hill loomed over His shredded body as He climbed, bearing my cross upon His back. It wasn’t simply the weight of the beams upon His back that He was carrying; it was the sin of mankind that would cause His Father’s face to look away in just a matter of moments. Not only the little white lies that so easily slip from our tongues or the briefest of fits when we don’t get our way, but the Holocaust, the billions of babies slaughtered in the womb, the casual shrug of the shoulder at others’ pain, the unwillingness to take a stand against evil if it means we will be standing alone. These sins covered the sinless Savior, making Him repulsive to the Father from whom He had never been separated.
And so, as iron plunged through flesh and bone, as blood gushed through God in man, reconciliation became tangible, was placed within my frail grasp by a simple, yet humanly impossible, step of faith. With what ease do the words, “believe,” “salvation,” and “faith” leave our lips, but the thorns still tore, the iron still plunged, the spear still pierced. I am so thankful that in His suffering was my salvation; yet more than that, in His suffering and abandonment Jesus was not forgotten by His Father. As Jesus prayerfully prepared in the Garden of Gethsemane, an angel came and ministered to Him. Within three hours of His crucifixion, He had died. These details may seem like dismissible facts, but it does comfort me to know that God is just, not cruel. He required that the price be paid in full, but not with interest. Jesus had to bear the full brunt of God’s holy wrath, but no more than that. When I face suffering during my walk on this planet, I will choose to remember the hidden mercies of a loving God who must be equally just. A loving God who says, “This much and no more.”