What does Jesus’ sacrifice mean for me?
Until reading the accounts of Jesus’ trials and crucifixion in Alicia Brit Chole’s profoundly pivotal book, 40 Days of Decrease, I did not comprehend the violence He endured.
If you’re anything like me, these images might be challenging to envision. When possible, I steer clear of violence in all its forms-movies, news, conversations. Life has enough sadness and cruelty without voluntarily pursuing it. But this particular practice of remembering Jesus’ path to the cross has resurrected my soul, in more ways than the obvious.
While it’s difficult to imagine the unfathomable cruelty towards our Gentle Shepherd, stay with me; peering into the events of His death will bring new life to your soul.
Without knowledge of the culture and political atmosphere, alongside the iron fist with which Rome ruled it’s subjects, it’s hard to comprehend just how violent crucifixion was.
The emotional, physical and spiritual pain Jesus endured—the brutality of whip, staff and tongue-by envious, frightened religious rulers and hardened, sadistic soldiers, is difficult to recount.
But I’ve come to cherish, even through soft sobs and thoughtful tension, this yearly remembrance.
After a vicious beating by the religious leaders, soldiers were next with their metal-laced whip and staff. Many prisoners died from the flogging alone. This torture could not have been born by another human long enough to stumble, crossbeam upon shredded back, towards Golgatha.
Indeed, Jesus even could not make the journey. Mark 15:21 tells us Simon of Cyrene was mandated by Roman guards to finish the arduous journey with His cross.
I understand now why the Son of God needed to be strengthened. I am convinced the angel sent to strengthen Him in the garden not only did so spiritually, but physically and emotionally emboldened Him for His final hours.
Remembering Jesus journey cross-ward has accomplished 2 important things in my life:
- I’m reminded of His eternal love for the world.
- My heart is more inclined towards devotion and gratitude towards Him.
Pursuing all the world had to offer, I wandered aimlessly for years. I couldn’t fully accept His incredible sacrifice.
His sacrifice was good enough for everyone else, except for me.
But Jesus made His love personal through recent years of crisis and counseling.
Sometimes crisis is the best path to the cross.
Ironically displayed in all that is good about Good Friday, this brutal day marks my passage to freedom.
Jesus, during His final hours of anguish, laboriously uttered six significant statements; listen for two with me.
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
The first- a prayer, requesting forgiveness for those carrying out unspeakable acts against Him. Was He not speaking for everyone from the first kiss to the last pound of the hammer? Yet, many more were on His mind.
His cry was assuredly for every soul He longs to keep.
Amidst unfathomable suffering, He was thinking of me, of you.
The second proclamation regarded the thief hanging next to Him.
The robber asked Jesus to remember Him upon entrance into His Kingdom, and Jesus not only affirmed him, but described a scene with them together in it. He immediately forgave him and promised a beautiful, eternal destiny.
When we cry out to Him, will He not also respond with the same care and concern?
His love is relentless and constant; we can do nothing to subvert it.
He’s leaning in, listening, waiting-His heart full of desire towards you. He is unquestionably trustworthy. He will never turn away or look with disappointment, disgust or disapproval. His gaze is as lovingly steadfast as when He turned His pierced head towards the sky and cried out to His Father for us.
So what do you need today? A second chance, a new beginning, peace, assurance of His love, provision, hope?
The thief did one thing. No begging, shameful self-bashing, or long lists of wrongs done- just a simple question:
Just like the thief, His love speaks to you, both in His faithful assertions on the cross and His presence today.
Make some time this week to recount His love for you. As your soul softens under the weight of His love, listen, draw close and linger in His presence.
Sweet and soul-satisfying, you can stay as long as you like.