by Peter Kamen
As we approach the Passover season, it has been a personal custom of mine to reflect upon and consider the significance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
One thought which had occurred to me on several occasions was the scripture in Hebrews 4 which tells us that Christ our High Priest was tempted in all points as we are and can identify with our sufferings.
Yet if we were to be technical, Jesus Christ suffered physically for six hours of crucifixion in addition to the arrest and beating the night before. But we have all known of people who have and do suffer for much longer periods of time, days, weeks, months. and even years. This was weighing on my mind and I needed to reconcile these thoughts.
So I took God up on His invitation to come boldly before His throne, and I asked for a more perfect understanding of this matter.
I guess that God knows that one of the easiest ways into my head is via music. I immediately was reminded of a chorus from Handel's "Messiah" the text of which is found in Isaiah 53:4 "Surely he has borne OUR grief’s and carried OUR sorrows". I realized that this was at least in principle the answer to my question. Jesus Christ bore all of the grief’s and sorrows of ALL humanity. The duration of His ordeal was not the issue, but rather the scope of His sacrifice. So as I continued to study into this, I began to understand something in a depth in which at least until this time I have not, and I would like to share this with you.
In the Gospel of Luke there is an account of Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 records that "And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" I have learned that this was in fulfillment of Isaiah 50:7"For the Lord God will help me; therefore I shall not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed". Jesus was beginning to feel some of the anxiety toward what He knew would be His final confrontation with the Jews, and His sacrifice. I bring this out because too often movies, various accounts, etc have seemed to portray Him as pretty much breezing through all of this, at least until His arrest and beating. But scriptures such as this show that He knew that He needed His Father's help all along.
He could read the Psalms which He had Himself inspired to get a glimpse of what it would feel like to assimilate all of the sorrows of humanity. Psalm 69:20 "Reproach has broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. Isaiah 53: 3 shows that "He was despised, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief".
With this in mind, the accounts of the events of that Passover evening and His prayer to the Father take on a greater dimension. Matt 26:36 "Then came Jesus with them unto a place called Geth-sem'-a-ne and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here while I go and pray yonder" Verse 38-"Then He said unto them My soul is EXCEEDINGLY SORROWFUL, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me" At this point the sorrows of all mankind were beginning to fall on Him, and it would appear from the next verse that He hadn't known in advance how it would actually feel. Verse 39 "And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will". Even He had not known until this point what the sufferings, griefs, and sorrows of humanity would feel like. Luke adds to this account a verse which we should find very comforting. Luke 22:41-43 "And when He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, Saying Father if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto Him form heaven, Strengthening Him" Verse 43: "And being in great AGONY He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
We have often heard much emphasis on the scourging and beating aspect of His sacrifice, and that certainly was of major importance. But I submit that from these accounts that the emotional aspect of His sacrifice was perhaps of the greatest importance. He wasn't ready for it, even to the point that the Father had to send Him extra strength via an angel. I say greatest importance because this aspect of His suffering--OUR grief and sorrows would serve to enhance the most enduring part of His contribution to our salvation.
His beating [stripes] was for our healing, [Isaiah 53:5] His death for our reconciliation, BUT there is an interesting scripture in Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His LIFE".
How? Now we can look at Hebrews 5:7-9 in a greater perspective "Who in the days of his flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." And in chapter four verse 15 " For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with FEELING OF OUR INFIRMITIES [of course not, He actually took them on Himself] but was in ALL points tempted like we are, yet without sin.
As I pondered on this, I realized that this is still an active, ongoing part of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is alive, now at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, and when we go BOLDLY before that throne of grace, verse 16 tells us "we obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." He can turn to the Father and say "I know EXACTLY what -------is experiencing, I felt that person's sorrow"
I just wanted to share this with you. If some of you were ahead of me with this, great! But as we approach the Passover season this year I hope that we can see that TRULY we have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
A rich and meaningful season to all of you.