Friday, 6 April 2012

Poured out like water

Jesus Christ, you died for me.

You poured yourself out. To lay down your life for a friend is one thing, but to die for those who rejected you?

To go through so much for so little in return?

The physical agony of crucifixion - the Romans knew how to kill a man. They knew how best to inflict pain. They knew just how to do it so that death was long, drawn out, dying one agonising breath at a time. They knew where to put the nails, the angle to bend the legs, the way to suspend a body so that every moment was a lifetime of misery. 

The emotional pain that you went through. The humiliation of nakedness and helplessness in front of your enemies, your friends, your mother. Being an object of ridicule and mockery. Being spat at. Beaten. The religious leaders and the Roman cowards thought that they'd won and you hung on a cross, bleeding from your wounds and you let them think that. The devil was laughing.

No-one was there. Where were the disciples? Where were all the people you'd healed, helped, transformed; the many whose lives were changed beyond recognition because of you? Where were they all when you needed a friendly face, someone to stick up for you? They had gone. You were going to die and nobody was there. 

The spiritual pain. Now this is hard for me to grasp, but I know that you lived your whole life in complete communion with your Father. I know that you never took one step away from the path that God wanted you to tread. You never once ignored him, or decided that you knew better, or did something for the hell of it, or because you wanted to, no matter what. 

You were sinless. So you never knew what it felt like to be guilty. To be dirty. To be ashamed. To feel unworthy and fearful and worthless. To be condemned. 

Me, I know what it feels like to do what I know to be wrong, and then to stand there with regret and shame in my heart. I know what it feels like to mess things up and know that I've messed them up. I know what it feels like to have a conscience weighed down by rubbish and know that I deserve every last bit of heaviness in my heart. You never did. 

Until that first Good Friday. Until the nails were hammered home and you were lifted high and the cross thudded down into it's hole and every joint was wrenched and the drops of blood and sweat showered down onto the earth that you created. You knew then for the first time what it felt like to be wrong. To be full of selfishness and pride and hatred and anger and guilt. You understood the consequences of sins that you'd never committed. It all came crashing down on you, as if you didn't already have enough to put up with. Physical pain, emotional pain, and now the pain of the world's filth.

You knew what it was like to have your Father, holiness itself, unable to look at you, unholy for the first and only time in your life. 

'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

Matthew 27:46

Your Father turned away. Darkness fell and a storm whipped up and at that moment it looked as if darkness had triumphed. The sin of the world was on your shoulders. The final sacrifice.

And you did it for me.

You paid the price. For me and for all those like me, then, before then, ever since and everyone who is still to be born. You were the only one who could have. But the weight of those hours must have been unbearable. Cut off from your heavenly Father. The agony must have been intolerable. 

At any point you could have called it a day. You could have brought angels rushing to your aid. You could have climbed down from the cross and ascended into heaven in a blinding flash of light. You could have brought lightning down to strike the soldiers who stripped you and stole your clothes, but you did none of these things. You knew the Plan and you stuck to it. I wonder if you knew how hard it would be.

But you tell me it was worth it. You tell me that you would have done it had I been the only sinner on the planet. You died for me. 

My God. 

The people back then would have known the scriptures. The psalms back then didn't have numbers, people knew them by their first lines. 

' My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

Psalm 22:1

You told your disciples in Gethesemane to put away their swords - the soldiers were coming for you so that the scriptures would be fulfilled. You knew the Plan and you stuck to it. You had enough presence of mind as you hung their dying to recall the word of God as given to the psalmists and you told us who you were. Those who heard must have been amazed.

'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
'He trusts in the Lord,' they say,
'let the Lord deliver him, since he delights in him.'
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me, 
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.'

Psalm 22:1-25

Lord Jesus, I can remember the first time I read Psalm 22 and realised that you knew exactly what was coming. That you were the fulfilment of the Scriptures. That every detail was correct and you knew. It blew me away. The whole of creation points towards you and yet as you died you spelled it out for me.

'I am poured out like water...'

You did it for me. What would I be without you? 

I am so thankful that the story doesn't end with your death. On this Good Friday we think about only part of the story. Gethsemane is part I of a trilogy, Golgotha part II. I should wait for part III until Sunday - but I can't stop there. It just isn't right. I know that the disciples had to; they ran and retreated and hid and wept and wondered and worried, but they weren't reading far enough in the scriptures. I know it's easy for me to say with the benefit of hindsight and easily available Bibles and blessed enough to have people who will teach me and point it out to me in words of one syllable.

You died for me. You paid the price that needed paying. And then... (sneak preview)...

You. Rose. Again. 

'Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!'

Psalm 22:30-31

At the moment you died, you called out, 'It is finished!' (John 19:30)

'He has done it!'

You did it. That was the Plan. Complete. 


My Lord and my God. 

Thankyou for dying for me. 



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