When we think of Jesus’ death on the cross, we often think of all the physical torture He endured. But sometimes, for me, it’s hard to relate to the physical pain He must have experienced. I’ll be honest: the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through is probably food poisoning. Maybe you’ve broken a few bones in your life, or gotten some wisdom teeth removed, but for most of us, fortunately, that is the extent of the physical pain we’ve been through…
The thing I’ve realized recently is that Jesus’ pain was not only physical, it was emotional too. And this emotional pain might have been even more difficult to endure than the physical. Here’s what author/pastor Tim Keller says about it…
His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, but that was a flea bite compared to what was happening to his soul. When he cried out that his God had forsaken him he was experiencing hell itself.
And this makes emotional sense when we consider the relationship he lost. If a mild acquaintance denounces you and rejects you–that hurts. If a good friend does the same–that hurts far worse. However, if your spouse walks out on you saying, “I never want to see you again,” that is far more devastating still. The longer, deeper, and more intimate the relationship, the more tortuous is any separation. But the Son’s relationship with the Father is [eternal] and infinitely greater than the most intimate and passionate human relationship.
Jesus’ suffering was infinitely greater than anything we have ever experienced, but unfortunately, the emotional pain is something we might be able to relate to a little more. We have all tasted the pain of rejection. We have all seen or experienced for ourselves the pain of a friendship lost, of feelings not being returned, of breaking up, of seeing someone walk through divorce, etc. Think about the experiences of rejection you’ve been through, and multiply that by a billion. Now you’re getting close to what Jesus experienced.
On top of all the physical torture Jesus endured, add on the emotional pain of being rejected by someone you have loved and been in relationship with, literally, forever. That’s what it cost Jesus to demonstrate His love for us.
And if that isn’t extraordinary enough, Jesus did this for us voluntarily! He had a choice. He could have chosen not to go through with it. But in Philippians 2, it says that Jesus humbled himself and was obedient to His Father, even when it cost Him the most physically and emotionally painful death anyone will ever experience. That takes a lot of love.
When Jesus was cut off from God he went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. He experienced the full wrath of the Father. And he did it voluntarily, for us. The Savior presented in the gospel waded through hell itself rather than lose us, and no other savior ever depicted has loved us at such a cost.
– Sarah Holloway