Trauma, pain, rejection, and all their hateful cousins are part of the human experience. All of us have some in our past, some in our present, and surely there will be more suffering to come. Jesus experienced a lifetime of trauma compressed into less than one day. The day we call good Friday was filled with that which would have crushed the life out of any living soul. Yet, He bore up under it. He carried it to the cross and to the grave.
This day, He felt the weight of finality. None of us know the moments we share for the last time. We never know when we will hold for the last time those things we hold most precious. He knew. His final meal, His final message, the final glimpse of a face. He knew He was singing the last hymn. Jesus knew when He tenderly washed and dried the feet of those who had walked with him for the final journey. He knew his own feet would be nailed together soon in Roman fashion. He knew where his final step would lead.
That which he observed He held in silent suffering. In the last Seder meal, His eyes alone observed angels and demons in the room that night. Angels bowed in humble deference. He held himself in restraint as demons glared at him in dark arrogance as they made their entrance in the heart of Judas. He would not cast these demons out; demons that hide in the heart of the unrepentant.
He slowed His pace on His final trip to the hillside of Gethsemane. It would lead him to the trauma of agony; alone in prayer, while they slept. He would get no rest on His final night.
The kiss of a traitor felt like a dagger in his neck. He was finally seized and arrested; something He had never permitted before. The strain of the moment only increased as one of His own attempted to murder an aggressor. Jesus pressed through personal sorrow to restore the flesh to a servant bent over in waves of pain from a severed ear. “Put away your sword” would be the extent of His defense.
He watched as every last one of His men disappeared into the night; their robes waving a bitter goodbye. All those He had found and called one by one, now fled en masse. Left alone with his captors, He was led away to the place of carnal judgment.
Jesus felt the heavy weight of false judgment as the High Priest and his minions interrogated Him. They finally had him in their grasp. Each false charge was accompanied by a blow to the face, followed by spitting and condescending slaps. The session ended with the verdict of death, but even that was not enough. Now blindfolded, the mocking began, followed by yet another beating. The insults were rehearsed and delivered with a cheering audience. Finally, Jesus looked through the mist of swirling demons into the face of Peter who had just denied him for the third time with cursing that Jesus had never heard come from his lips before. Their eyes met as they exchanged pain; one from betrayal the other from shame. Then, four men lowered him into a pit below the home of Caiaphas where he would spend the remainder of the dark hours in isolation. He remembered another scene when four men lowered a broken man before him.
The trauma, now only a few hours old, found him bound and dragged, to the palace of Pontius Pilate and then on to stand before Herod’s false throne, just to endure more ridicule and mocking. It was here he would begin to hear the cries of the crowd. The One who refused to condemn was now hearing the chorus of “crucify.” “We are Legion” was now stirring the masses. He could see them as well as hear the screeching and hissing sounds that fueled the language of carnal men.
Lies, the very infrastructure of agenda, are always painful. He heard Pilate’s false declaration: “I am innocent”, spoken just before the command to have Jesus flogged with chords laced with broken bone and serrated metal. He was stripped in this public setting and thirty-nine times he felt the instrument strike his back, wrapping around his torso. The only strength he had in reserve was used to hold himself in restraint. Only a whisper would have summoned ten thousand warring angels to scorch the earth and yet only an involuntary cry rose from his heaving chest as they pressed the thorns into his scalp and brow. Contempt flowed like the blood from his wounds now only seconds old.
The cross beam was heavy with cruel intention as it scraped at the remaining skin on his shoulders as they led him through the streets. Just outside the gate and up one more hill they laid him on the ground, not for rest but in preparation for the abrupt thud of gravity to pull his body now attached to the cross into a hole hewn in the rock.
Thieves beside him, crowds mulling and mingling around him offered only more taunts. The trauma continued with the unknown. He did not know how much more He could take nor for how long. Demons continued in a hissing swirl. They were never hidden from the eyes of the Son of God. The unknown is worse than the known in the world of terrorism.
Some of the greatest pain he felt in his heart came the moment his vision cleared enough for him to catch a glimpse of his mother. She knelt with her face lifted toward his downward gaze. She heard the anguish in his voice when he spoke “immah” Aramaic for “mother”.
The pain of feeling alone and forsaken, for the first time in His life brought the final cry. Trauma, pain, torture, hatred, unspeakable grief and sorrow was not more than He could bear. It was more than we can bear. He did it knowingly, knowing that even on a day like today He would present His wounds to the Father that He bore for me. He did it willingly, in full agreement with the Father that even those who slapped, spit, and stripped him would need a Savior. He embraced that day lovingly, like a mother who longed to shelter her own under her wings.
Then, He gave up His spirit. Not taken, but
given. He would not just arise victorious. He died victorious. This Friday is