Good Friday: Consolation from the Cross

good friday cross consolation+

 

This year, the events of Jesus’s last days have gripped me like never before.

I have read and reread the accounts of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, being delivered over to the Jewish and Roman leaders, willingly being crucified on Calvary.

Perhaps for the first time, what Jesus endured has become very personal. In each scene from His final days, I have discovered something new. Noticed something encouraging. Been drawn to worship in a deeper way.

A model for prayer

It’s hard to know how to pray when I’m desperate. Do I ask God for deliverance, crying out to Him for relief? Or do I simply relinquish my desires to Him, trusting that He has the perfect plan? Faithful believers through the ages have Scripturally supported one side or the other, but in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus does both.

In His anguish, Jesus cries out, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus first draws near to God in His pain, using the intimate term of Father. He then affirms that God can do anything. This is not merely a perfunctory prayer; Jesus is confident that His Father is able to change the situation. Thirdly, He directly asks God to take away His suffering. He is boldly asking for deliverance; Jesus does not want to face what lies ahead. Finally, He submits His will to the Father.  Jesus beautifully models in His short prayer how to pray in our suffering: boldly ask God for deliverance yet submit to His sovereign will.

Jesus’s greatest work on earth was accomplished by submitting and not by “doing”

In the Gospels, Jesus is a man of action; He responds to everyone God puts before Him. He heals the sick. Raises the dead. Gives sight to the blind. Makes the lame walk. And preaches the good news to the poor.

But now Jesus is being acted upon. Rather than actively doing or saying anything, He lets others impose their will upon Him. He is “betrayed into the hands of sinners,” (Matt 26:45), “led to Caiaphas the high priest,” (Matt 26:57) “bound and led away and delivered to Pilate,” (Matt 27:2) where “they stripped him… mocked him… spit on him… and led him away to crucify him,” (Matt 27:31) yet “he remained silent.” (Mark 14:61)

In His final days, Jesus willingly submits to the cup of suffering set before Him. And this is what brought God the most glory. Through His submission, Jesus accomplished His most important work on earth.

For someone who is increasingly able to “do” less, this realization was powerful. I had always believed that activity and words glorified God more than stillness and silence. Yet the greatest work Jesus did on earth was not actively doing anything. It was in willingly receiving what God had for Him without complaint. Accepting God’s will and not fighting against it. Trusting God’s plan when it meant suffering.

It has been comforting to see that perhaps “doing” things for God is not as important as accepting the things that God is doing. Maybe submitting to God’s will, entrusting ourselves to Him and trusting that He is orchestrating our circumstances, is the most significant thing any of us can do for the Kingdom.

Jesus could have saved Himself

As Jesus is being crucified, the crowd is mocking Him. They jeer, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross that we may see and believe.” (Mark 14:31-32)

If they only knew Who they were mocking. If they only knew how the Father loved Him. If they only knew what they were asking. Jesus could have come down from the cross. Answered all their questions. Satisfied their doubts. Proven He was the Son of God. They would have seen and believed. To their eternal damnation.

Jesus chooses the path of humility. Of not trying to prove Himself. He knows that enduring this painful humiliating death, misunderstood and mocked, bearing the weight of the world’s sin as the Father turned His face away is for a magnificent purpose.  The most glorious purpose imaginable.

God can certainly save me from anything that I am dealing with. But many times He chooses not to because He has a bigger plan in mind. And just as He loved Jesus, but watched Him suffer and die for a reason, God often lets me suffer because He has a greater purpose as well.

Jesus was forsaken

And then there is the cross. Where Jesus is forsaken. Abandoned by His Father. On Good Friday, as Jesus is dying on the cross, He can no longer call God, “Abba.” That relationship has been broken. And so He simply cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

All of our sins, and the sins of the entire world – past, present, and future – are laid upon Him. And God’s righteous wrath is unleashed. God turns His face away from Jesus, leaving Him utterly alone. For the first time, Jesus’s fellowship with God is broken. He no longer has the comfort of God’s presence. He endures the crushing weight of God’s fury alone.

There are times I have felt forsaken by God. I have cried out in the dark and been met with chilling silence. Nothing. No comfort. No reassurance. No deliverance. No answered prayers. No respite. I have felt desperate and lonely, wondering where God was in the midst of my pain.

But the amazing beautiful wonderful truth is that because Jesus was forsaken, I never will be.

God will never leave me. I may not feel His presence and may need to rely on His promises, but He is always with me. He will not turn His face away. Because of Jesus, God will never abandon me.

I am reminded of the song, Amazing Love, recorded by the Newsboys. It says,

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken. I’m accepted; You were condemned.

I’m alive and well, Your Spirit lives within me. Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love, how can it be? That You my King, would die for me?

Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor You.  In all I do, to honor You.

What amazing love Jesus has for us. That He endured God’s wrath for me. And for you. So that we can enjoy unending fellowship with the Trinity.

What should we do in the face of such astonishing love?

Worship. Fall to our knees and worship. For there is no other fitting response.

  • March 25, 2016 - 9:07 am

    Tracey Casciano - Thank you for this powerful reminder!ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 10:51 am

    Elizabeth - Simply beautiful! I so much needed to hear this. Thank you so much for sharing with such honesty. You may be physically able to “do” less, but God is certainly still using you, your gifts, and your heart to encourage and build up your sisters in Christ!(PS: I can’t sing that song without weeping!)ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 10:58 am

    Scott - “JESUS’S GREATEST WORK ON EARTH WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY SUBMITTING AND NOT BY “DOING”” …

    Amen. Like Samson, His greatest victory came through his death. Unlike Samson, he not only laid down his life, but took it up again. Grateful for your post and words of encouragement. Grateful for Jesus’ greatest work and the hope we have in Him. After darkness, light.ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 12:14 pm

    Trudy - Thank you so much for this comforting reflection, Vaneetha. I love your insight into Jesus’ prayer – that He acknowledged God has the power to change things, then boldly asked Him for deliverance and yet submitted to His will. Yes, what a model for us. And what hope there is in the fact that He was forsaken by God so we never will be forsaken, even when it may feel like it sometimes. I hope you have a joy-filled Easter. He is alive. He is always with us. He will never leave us. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 2:29 pm

    Jennifer Bernardo - Thank you Vaneetha. I read this first this morning before all my other devotionals. I like how you said this year the last days of Jesus’s life have really gripped you. I have really tried to slow down this whole week and really think about what he suffered for ALL of us. I have the little book from John Piper Your sorrow will turn to joy. They are daily meditations for all of Holy Week starting on Palm Sunday up to Easter. Do you have that little devotional? You can get it I believe on Desiring God.org. You would enjoy it. Thank you for a wonderful message today. GOD BLESS YOU Vaneetha. JenniferReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 6:41 pm

    Rinu - Vaneetha, I simply feel that you are talking aloud my thoughts at times. Very timely and relevant to the issues I go through. I think its mainly it is because your blogs are very real.. Thank you so much for not giving up. Please continue sharing your meditations. May God continue to to strengthen you! You definitely are accomplishing much by submitting to His will.
    Warmest regards,
    Rinu.ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2016 - 9:54 pm

    Pia - You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jer 29:13

    Thank you for seeking Him with your whole heart Vaneetha. And for sharing with us what you have found.ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2016 - 9:25 am

    Effie Barba - Vaneetha, I know that your suffering is hard at times. Yet, you have been given a wondrous gift–Act of Grace as God uses your suffering to be a part in His Glory. His greatest Glory is displayed in the cross. He does not need me to bring anyone to Him, so if He can through my suffering uses me to reach others for Him; by doing so He is sharing His Glory with me. All too often, I have gotten caught up in wanting so much from God. If I were to choose, I wanted the loving husband, the white picket fence, money, career, children and no illness. Perhaps, it was foolish to believe that those things would have brought me more joy than what I have ultimately found!! There was that misconception, false doctrine that we so want to believe. We want to say that if God really loves me He will lavish me with prosperity, health, and all the joys of this world. My whole life was one by one God ripping from my hands, mind, and heart the “counterfeit joys” that I thought would satisfy; so, that I might see Him as my greatest treasure. – All those things that I thought were too hard to bare were God’s Acts of Grace to transform my heart so that I might know Him as my joy, my love, my most precious treasure. “For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross” What joy? The joy of loving me and the joy of loving you. So, What more can He do to prove His love for me than that which He has already done?ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2016 - 9:34 am

    Debbie - These words were so beautiful to read. I didn’t want them to end. Your words always point to Jesus.ReplyCancel

  • March 29, 2016 - 1:15 pm

    Kimberly - Hi there, I just recently discovered your blog. Your writing really resonates with me! I can relate so much to the concept of “dancing in the rain”, of finding joy in the midst of challenges and trials. I write on a similar subject, about finding treasures in darkness, or diamonds in the coal. 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your writing, and getting to know you and your story.

    Blessings!ReplyCancel

  • May 2, 2016 - 4:07 pm

    sarah - I like you. I stumbled upon your blog today from desiring God and I think you are so real and so profound. Keep writing.ReplyCancel

Tweet|Share to Facebook|Subscribe