It seemed to come out of no where; this morning over the breakfast table. She remembered something they had been talking about in her class at church last Sunday. She burst out, “Mommy, I don’t like it when Jesus dies.”
Like such an immediate answer to my weary heart at the breakfast table; that statement opening the way for humble early morning conversations about the most important moment in the history of the universe.
“I know sweetie. I don’t like it either. It’s sad that Jesus died. But do you know why he died?” She shakes her blonde bed head with a pout on her lip and sorrow in her eyes. “He died because he loves you so much Ellie, that he did whatever it took to save you. So that we can live with him forever. He loves you that much Ellie.”
And we talk about all the things that must have been percolating in her mind all week. Why Peter cut off the ear of the priests servant. Why Jesus rebuked him, because he didn’t know that the way forward was not to fight their way back from the edge of death, but to submit and go through death. We talk about how Jesus dying for us, though sad, is also the greatest love story ever told. And we talk about how he didn’t stay dead, and I see joy spark in her eyes.
But a moment later, the breakfast dishes done, it fades as she remembers with sorrow, “I don’t like it when they put the purple robe on him. I don’t like it when God bleeds.” Her tiny arms rise above her head with the height of her emotion, and crash down to her tiny frowning face where she sits on the kitchen floor.
And I’m tearing up. Because she’s so sweet and sensitive. Because I agree completely. Because the grief of that moment is real.
That God loved us to death. Suffered for us. Bled for us. We who could never deserve his love, who could never make it worth his while, who have absolutely nothing to give. We who were the very ones shouting, “Crucify him!” Because he wasn’t the kind of King we wanted him to be.
In an incredible move that the enemy never could have predicted. The enemy being so proud he sought to rule over God, he never would have predicted that God would lower himself not only to level of his creation, but to the level of death. It was unthinkable. The Holy, became nothing. He died to pay the price for the dust. And all of creation shook with the wrongness of it all. The very sun turned away. The grief of that moment cannot be overlooked; the weightiness the fell upon everyone who was there that day. Those who loved him, and those who realized in that moment like the centurion, “Surely this man was the son of God.”
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
If the death of Jesus doesn’t move us, then we don’t get it. If we can stare in the face of our suffering savior and invalidate that suffering by saying, “Well, he rose from the dead and he’s alive now, so it’s all fine”, we don’t get it. His rising from the dead is of course the greatest triumph in the entire history of the world. But don’t let it erase the reality of his suffering.
His death matters. His suffering paid the price for your sin and mine.
And if we forget what Jesus endured, we might start to think that he’s a God who doesn’t understand what it looks like to be human on this fallen earth. And that would be a tragedy.
The suffering of Jesus was more than any suffering you and I will ever be asked to endure. We will likely never be able to fathom the depth of torture he endured as he poured out his soul and took on the sins of the entire world.
And yet, it was for the joy set before Him that he endured the cross…(Hebrews 12:2)
Do you see what I’m getting at here? The grief of the death of Christ is real. The suffering was real. Just as your suffering, and my suffering are real. And that means that the joy set before us is REAL.
It’s Friday. But Sunday is coming.
Don’t skip over the grief this week. If you are in a Friday season, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that. Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going through. Whatever your thought processes have been like this week. Don’t forget that He is a God who sympathizes with our weaknesses. Who knows what it is to suffer.
Let Jesus hold you. Wherever you are right now. However you are reading these words. Let the Lord of all creation hold you in your sorrow and in your suffering.
And on the other side of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, is a table. A feast in the presence of our enemies. An over flowing cup. An anointing with oil. There is a joy set before us. (Psalm 23)
Let us live every sorrowful and suffering moment with this eternal hope.