Monday, October 18, 2010

Dig a Little Deeper

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Mat 27:46

For as long as I've been a christian, this verse has haunted me. I was familiar with Christ's crucifixion, but never liked reading these verses. I know why, it was because I've always looked at Christ as some sort of superhuman. Simply put, Christ was unbreakable to me. So for him to cry out these words of doubt in a moment of weakness? It shook me.

Have you ever sat back and thought about Christ's crucifixion? Sure, you've read it before, probably in Bible study or heard a preacher do a sermon on it before. But, have you, yourself ever considered the full extent of the agony that he went through? Many of us would have to admit that we haven't. We merely take the Bible at face value, muster up a grain of gratitude until church is over, and then we move on with our lives. Simply put, we're disconnected..

Modern medicine has conducted several examinations of the effects of crucifixion on the human body. The obvious we read about in Bible; the piercing of his hands, and feet. The scourging done to most crucifixion victims, the breaking of bones to hasten death. What isn't well known is the exhaustion that comes from trying to hold yourself up during a crucifixion. You see, when your arms are stretched out and you're forced to hold your self up by them, this hyper-extends your chest muscles and lungs. This makes breathing, much less speech very difficult and exhausting.

Yet, we know that when Christ was hanging on the cross, throughout the entire duration he would lift himself up and speak. Jesus's last seven statements while on the cross before death, according to the Bible are as follows;

1."Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."-Lk. 23:34

2. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."-Lk. 23:43

3."Woman, behold, your son!.. Behold thy Mother!"-Jn. 19:26-27 (Jesus is telling two people that he loved deeply to take care of one another as if they were truly mother and son. Despite his physical suffering, he wants to make sure these two are taken care of after he has passed.)

4."E′li, E′li, la′ma sa‧bach‧tha′ni?"-Mk. 15:34 (Aramaic for "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?". It is also a quotation of the first line of Psalm 22.)

5."I thirst."-Jn. 19:28 (This is in order to bring about a fulfillment of his Father's word. This was prophesied years earlier. Jesus was cognizant of this even in his agony.)

6."It is finished."-Jn. 19:30 (Jesus declares he's done God's will.)

7."Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"-Lk. 23:46 (Jesus tells God he's giving full faith to Him.)

Notice that none of the seven statements made by Christ are meant to comfort himself, but rather those around him. He was being truly selfless during his darkest hour. This is amazing when we remember that he was the one being put to death!

And remember that verse I had such a hard time with at the beginning of this article? Read Psalms 22, it's the opening of the first verse. If Jesus would have been able to breath he would've finished and we would've recognized that he was praising God, even while hanging on the cross! It took me several years of studying to realize what I had thought was a moment of weakness was so much more. Perhaps he was reciting this Psalm to remind those whom he loved below him that God is righteous and delivers His people? Nevertheless, when I thought he was showing weakness, he was showing me another example of strength and courage.

Christ was thirty, physically exhausted, and asphyxiated. Yet he found the strength to comfort those around him. Jesus set the example of praising God and serving others, all the way up to his death. Sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper into ourselves in order to find the story of our own strength. It's so difficult to do, put I promise it's no more difficult than being crucified on the cross.

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