If there was ever a man who deserved to live life filled with joy, it would have been Jesus. Though clothed in the clothes of the common, He deserved royal robes, a golden crown, and a scepter. His character was marked by a righteousness no other man had ever achieved. His was a ministry characterized by miracles, grace, freedom, and healing. He exhibited authority over nature, man, and demons. More importantly He possessed a pure, unadulterated love for His Father and an unconditional, sacrificial love for man that was the motivation for every act He performed and every word He spoke.
To begin to understand the depths of Christ's love, we are looking past the life He lived to the death He died. In was in His death that He chose to set aside His right to live to experience our deepest fear--of death. He chose to set aside His glory to bear our heaviest burden--the burden of sin and shame. He chose to set aside His perfect relationship with His Father to feel our deepest pain--our separation from the Creator.
During His life Christ expressed His love through through many active ways. But at the end He chose to express it in a different way. As He was arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified, He maintained a purposeful silence that spoke His love even more loudly than the all the words He spoke and all the actions He carried out.
The same mouth that spoke the universe into place was silent when He was taken away. The same mouth that calmed angry seas remained silent as people twisted His words during His illegal trials. The same voice that called a man from the grave refused to answer lying accusations hurled. The same voice that caused soldiers to fall back remained silent as He was beaten. The same strong voice that confronted the Pharisees was silent in the face of the mocking. He who had every right to defend Himself and He who had the power to walk away remained silent--and His love it was screaming in that silence because in the silence He was actively laying down His life.
He remained silent when soldiers took their whips with sharp stones and bits of bones and beat Him, ripping apart His flesh. He was silent when soldiers put a scarlet robe on His raw flesh and jammed a crown of thorns upon His brow. He was silent when the soldier's mockery was no longer enough to satisfy the angry crowd. They were so enraged by the perfect life He lived, the sinners He forgave, the broken people He healed, and the people bound by sin He had set free that they joined the cruel soldiers by slapping His face, pulling hairs from His beard, hurling curses in His ears, spitting saliva in His face, and bidding for the clothes He would no longer need.
He maintained His silence as the robe was ripped from His wounded back. He maintained it with each clang of the hammer as the searing pain of nails broke through flesh and bones. He remained silent as they picked up the cross and dropping it into the ground with a thud. He was silent as He gazed into a sea of faces filled with hate. He was silent through the searing pain of the nails and the pain of raw back rubbing against rough wood as moved to take each breath. He was silent--hanging suspended between heaven and earth and His silence...His silenced it screamed of His love as it was being poured out.
He looked around at the people below and finally broke the silence with words we all need to hear. He didn't scream of the injustice or demand to be set free; He asked His Father to forgive--forgive those who rejected Him, forgive those who denied Him, forgive those who deserted Him, forgive those who falsely accused Him, forgive those who mocked Him, forgive those who beat Him, forgive those who hammered nails, forgive those whose sin evoked the Father's wrath.
As the afternoon wore on darkness blanketed the earth and our sins--past, present, and future--ware laid on Him and Christ faced a realm of pain never ever experienced before or since. He felt the collective pain we feel when we are bound by sin--lonely, hopeless, and forsaken. For the first time He was separated from His Father because of our sin and in the anguish of being alone He broke the silence. It was a heart-rending cry from the depths of a deeply hurting soul, "My God, My God why have You forsaken me?" With a heart broken by separation, He released His spirit, dying the death--the death we deserved.
The silence surrounding His death speaks loudly of love. He loved deeply enough to die for disciples who deserted Him, for Peter who vehemently denied Him, for those who didn't recognize Him, for those who hated Him, for those who arrested Him, for those who beat Him, for those who mocked Him, and for those who hammered the nails. He loved deeply enough to maintain His silence and to stay on the cross as our sin, yours and mine, made Him feel alone and forsaken.
His outrageous love endured the cruelty of the cross for the joy of presenting us, made holy and pure by His blood, as beloved children. We, the children who sin, who struggle with unbelief, who fail to love well, who at times deny Him, are the children purchased, purified, covered, and protected by the blood He shed. And His love? It was screaming in the silence.
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