Updated: Apr 21, 2019
Let us set the scene: On a dusty road in Jerusalem, Jesus is stumbling, wheezing, and dragging his feet while carrying the tree he’d die on.
Seeing he can barely walk, the Romans force Simon of Cyrene to bare the cross of Jesus until they arrived at Golgotha. This place, known as the Place of the Skull, is where Jesus is to be crucified along with two robbers. Jesus is mocked by his religious peers saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”
In a shrill cracked voice, Jesus makes a guttural scream and dies. Silence falls upon the onlookers as his body hangs for all to see.
Jesus is dead.
And with his death, the temple curtain separating the common area from the Holy of Holies completely tears in half, just as Jesus proclaimed. While his tomb is being prepared, Jesus is tended to by Mary Magdalene, and several other women, with no disciples to be found.
Jesus reached through his pain just so he could be next to us in ours.
Jesus reached through his pain just so he could be next to us in ours. Jesus is human and divine. Yet, the most human thing Jesus ever did was die. He died a long, humiliating, violent death. Tortured, dragged through the streets, cursed, and spit upon, Jesus held back his might. He could have called a strike force of angels to wipe away his accusers. He could have blunted all of his senses, dampening each crack of the whip, sting of the nails, and taste of his own blood coming up from his stomach.
But He didn’t.
He went through the punishment, orchestrated by his colleagues, and in doing so, tapped into His humanness.
The way I see it, Jesus serves as an example to us in many ways, especially in our pain, doubts, and suffering. He is not shunning us for our disbelief or lack of faith. He is right there with us screaming from every compound, molecule, and fiber of His Being ”Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
Jesus was at His darkest place, alone.
Jesus was at His darkest place, alone. But what’s so fascinating is Jesus’ persistence to dwell with us, at all times. In our darkest places.
In 1st Century Roman-occupied Judea, He’s there.
In cotton, sugar, coffee, and tobacco plantations at the dawn of the “New World”, He’s there.
Modern day war-torn Syria, He’s there.
Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Christchurch. He’s there.
His love, comfort, and presence break through time, space, and man-made conceptions of Him to say “I’m here. I never left”.
I felt Jesus’ presence recently. Over the course of 3-5 years, my heart turned callus towards Jesus. I understood God as Creator of all things and the ground of all being. I loved the imagery of Holy Spirit being the Breath of Life. But it was hard to trust Jesus cared about me at all. Taken a step further, I wasn’t sure about His divinity. I felt like I was cut off completely.
During this time, however, I lost my fear of asking risky questions. I stopped forcing new wine into old wineskins. I understood I wasn’t the only one to feel as if I was dead to Jesus.
Looking back now, I see my faith was not absent, but growing. In a way, I feel like I was buried with Jesus, having died from one life, to receive a new perspective on the other side.
In a way, I feel like I was buried with Jesus, having died from one life, to receive a new perspective on the other side.
I gripped so tightly onto the 21st Century Western-oriented way I grew up in the Church, and I couldn’t see the Christ-centered beauty around me. We come from a long legacy of men and women doing their best to become one with God and take their faith seriously.
I thought my faith had died, but Jesus was there saying “I’m here and I never left”.
The veil I believed separated me and The Christ was torn and I was able to see his movements all around me.
He is also very gracious. Now, through a still unbelievable meeting with Jesus, I feel him like never before. Which is wild, because I thought He only touched those who were completely aligned with Him. I felt seen for the first time in years.
This isn’t to say everything is perfect. My faith is still growing. The ways I experience God now will, hopefully, be different 10, 20, 50 years from now. But isn’t that the point?
Change is not bad. Being stuck at the same spiritual coordinates for years is bad.
Resistance to change is what turns our hearts callus, isn’t it?
The journey is hard, but death gives us the opportunity to change. Only through death, there is rebirth. Jesus is why death has lost its sting. We can be sure, like Jesus, once we die (not only physically) we have new, abundant life on the other side.
Jesus on the cross is not only Him embracing his humanness, but also stepping out in faith with this promise: Rebirth will happen once He passes.
Jesus was at the darkest place 2000 years ago and he’s with us in our dark places too. We just have to trust He will take care of us in our death.
1. Have you ever been a place of doubt? Have you doubted God? Jesus? Holy Spirit? The Bible? The Church? What did you do with that doubt? We’re to able to come to God about your doubts? Did you suppress them?
2. In the passage, the veil was torn once Jesus died. The separation of God and man was no more. Can you think of a moment when you personally felt the veil was torn between you and God? If you’re still looking for that moment, don’t be ashamed. God loves you and will speak to you in the best way YOU can receive it.
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