We have all tasted hell in this life. And not in that careless moment when you got too close to the campfire.
We have all tasted hell when we experienced the pain of rejection…
· when the new kid eats alone in the school cafeteria…
· when we see the social media posts of friends enjoying the party we weren’t invited to…
· when an offended friend spurns our pleas for forgiveness…
The worst agony of hell won’t be the physical pain – the fire and the eating worm. It will be the knowledge that God has finally, eternally rejected me.
Christians have long used the word “Passion” to describe the sufferings of Christ during the last hours before his death. In his Passion, Christ suffered the pains of hell on our behalf, enduring the agony that rightly should have been ours.
It would be difficult to estimate the extent of his suffering, but in Gethsemane Jesus seemed to have counted the cost of all that he would endure – the betrayal of Judas, the abandonment of his friends, the mockery of his trials, the denials of Peter, the abuse of the soldiers, the excruciating pain of the scourging and crucifixion.
And he quietly endured it all, until one moment near the end.
Does not every movement in the Passion write large some common element in the sufferings of our race?
First, the prayer of anguish; not granted.
Then he turns to his friends. They are asleep…
Then he faces the [religious leadership]. It condemns him.
There is the State; in this case, the Roman State… [where he becomes a pawn] in a complicated game. But even now all is not lost. There is still an appeal to the People – the poor and simple whom he had blessed, whom he had healed and fed and taught, to whom he himself belongs.
But they have become overnight a murderous rabble shouting for his blood.
There is, then, nothing left but God.
And to God, his last words are, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” -- CS Lewis
Many people think Jesus’s last cry was merely the traditional lament of the Jew in torment, letting the words of the psalmist express his profound grief. But could it be that Jesus, the one who until then suffered quietly, cried out because of an unexpected pain?
Of all the agonies he endured, was this was the one he couldn’t anticipate, couldn’t even imagine, that the wrath of his Father would turn out to be cold abandonment?
Jesus suffered not just humiliation and exquisite pain; he suffered my hell.
Prayer: Thank you, dear Jesus, for submitting the will of your Father, for giving up your life, for allowing evil men to break your body and spill your blood, for enduring the shame, abandonment, and rejection that rightly should be mine. I can never repay your for your amazing and kindly grace.