There can be no denying the physical agony of the crucifixion: to die by this method of asphyxiation was a slow and painful death. As the victim hung on the cross, strength would slowly but surely ebb away meaning that they were unable to lift themselves to take in the air they needed to survive. There was also the psychological suffering of the flogging that preceded it and the crowds baying for blood; however, the true agony of the cross for Jesus was that of a whole other order.
Back in Matthew 26:36-46, we have Jesus suffering agony of soul in the Garden of Gethsemane as he contemplates what lies ahead of him in his death. When he asks God to take away “this cup” he is drawing on an Old Testament image used to describe the reality of experiencing the judgment of God. One such example comes from Isaiah 51:17 – “you have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.” Other OT uses speak of the nations being subject to God’s judgment in similar terms. In the case of Jesus, the cup of God’s wrath was not taken from him; no, he actually drunk it to its bitter dregs.
Returning to Jesus on the cross; when he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he gives voice to the utter dereliction that he experiences. The perfect joy and peace that he has up to this point always known in unity with his heavenly Father has been devastated as he is judged in our place. In fact, God hasn’t so much withdrawn himself as rather remained present in judgment as the one who condemns his Son for our sin! 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Prayer: Whilst listening to the following song, take time to think about what Jesus went through, why he did it and what it cost God to bring our freedom. As you consider, allow Holy Spirit to bring a deeper understanding. As the song continues bring prayers of praise and thanks to Lord Jesus.
Song: When I survey