The Greatest Love

Excerpt from “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada, p. 52-54. Also found in “Booy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris. Understanding intellectually is completely different from feeling with the heart. So frequently, I understand and don’t feel. I proceed without passion and conviction. I wish this reality was real in my life each day.

Who can describe the whirlwind of the succeeding hours? Could so many lies really be told at a single trial? Could so much sin be poured into one court room? The drowning ones he had come to rescue screamed that he be thrown from the lifeboat. God had claimed to be God – what could be worse! God had kept his sworn promise to send a Messiah – how ridiculous! In the wee hours of that morning, Sodom and Gomorrah came to look virginal next to Jerusalem. Later, in the brighter light of day and to the background of a pressing crowd screaming insanities, Pilate washed away centuries of Roman justice in his finger bowl.

The Savior was now thrown to men quite different from the eleven. The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow. His back, buttocks, and the rear of his legs felt the whip – soon they looked like the plowed Judean fields outside the city. ” On with the blindfold!” someone shouts. “That’s it – now spin him. Who hit you? Heh, heh.” By the time the spitting is through, more saliva is on him than in him. No longer can he be recognized. “Cut him down from the post! Send him toting his crossbar to the playground.” Up Skull Hill to the welcome of other poorly paid legionnaires enjoying themselves.

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerve performs exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift up the cross. God is on display in his underwear, and can scarcely breath.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His Father! He must face His Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing extortion, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, I loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

God set down his saw.

This is who asks us to trust him when he calls us to suffer.

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Jason Lund

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