The Mental Anguish of the Cross

Last week one of my clients came into my office and asked if we could talk about God. He had his Bible in his hand so I knew he had questions. I told him we could and he sat at my desk and opened the Word to Revelation. I could tell that he was scared as he asked me questions about the end times. After we discussed the end times for about 15 minutes, I told him that he would never be able to fully understand the Book of Revelation and that’s why it pays to always be ready. I could see the defeat in his eyes. He told me about how he was raised in church and he knew all about the Christian faith, but things that he had to endure as a kid made him doubt God. After we discussed his past and the issues that caused him to doubt God he made the comment “This will sound bad, but why couldn’t I just be killed on a cross? It would’ve been easier than what I went through.”

He thought that I would be turned away by his comment, but I understood. In today’s world, I’m sure there are more than a few people who feel like it would be easier to die on a cross than have to endure what they’ve been put through. But dying on a cross wasn’t the only thing that Jesus endured. As I sat down and thought about was Jesus was put through mentally, my heart sank.

While Jesus walked this earth, He did nothing but help others. He helped by teaching, guiding, and healing. I’m sure there were times that He was exhausted, but he chose to speak to the thousands that would follow him to hear His message. He spent His entire life giving to others. Matthew 20:28 says “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And that’s exactly what he did!

I’m going to stay away from the physical aspects of the crucifixion of Christ and try to hit on some of the mental aspects that I feel had a big impact on Jesus. Like I said, Jesus helped by guiding others and that’s what he did when he chose 12 men to be his disciples. These were Jesus’ closest friends. There have been times in my life when I have felt betrayed by my friends, but none of them sent me to my death. I wish I could’ve known what went through Judas’ mind as he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. I tried to research how much 30 silver pieces were worth and I found answers ranging from $600 to $3000 in today’s time, but there is no amount of money that someone could pay me that I would betray my friend. In Exodus, 30 pieces of silver was the price that was to be paid to a slave master if a slave was accidentally killed by an ox (Exodus 21:32). Judas betrayed Jesus to the chief priest for the worth of a slave.

Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. He also knew that Peter would deny him 3 times. Imagine one of your closest friends turning you over to be killed and another close friend denying that he even knew you. How would that weigh on your mind?

Now, imagine that since the time you were a kid, you did no wrong. You helped people everywhere you went and loved people unconditionally. You fed thousands, raised people from the dead, gave the blind sight, healed the lepers, and many other countless great things. Now imagine those are the same people that are shouting for your death. Telling someone to kill you. The very people you poured your heart out to now want you dead.

After all of this, our Lord and Savior, after being brutally beaten was forced to carry his own cross up the hillside to the place of his death. He was mocked and degraded. As Jesus hung on the cross, they gambled for His clothes. They told Him to call His angels to take him off of the cross. Jesus, being 100% man and 100% God hung on a cross in pain and agony knowing very well He could have come down completely healed and whole but chose to endure it for you. Not only was Jesus enduring the physical pain of the beatings, nails, and crown of thorns but he endured the mental pain that came from knowing that the people he loved and came to save were now his murderers. But Jesus always knew that it was what had to happen. When he decided to leave the Father, he knew what was to come but he chose to endure it to save us.

I know that in my short life of 23 years, I have built up guilt and shame for my sins. Sometimes the guilt seems like more than I can bear but then I think of Jesus as He hung on the cross – He had the sin, as well as the guilt and shame for all of the sins of every person who had lived and every person that would. That includes my sin. Jesus felt my sin over 2,000 years ago as he hung on what should’ve been my cross and then He died, paying the debt for my sins that he bore.

While I can’t begin to imagine the physical pain that Christ had to endure, I feel as if the mental anguish was much worse. But we can rejoice! We are able to celebrate Easter because Jesus came down from the cross and rose again! Claiming victory once and for all over sin and death. I can face whatever comes my way in this life knowing that I have a Savior who has already taken my sin to the grave and won the battle against it!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness and stress that comes with the Easter holiday; the dinner, the egg hunts, the baskets, and so on and so on. Take some time this week to truly think about the cross and what that means for you. But remember, while the cross is important, we are nothing without the empty tomb.

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