This passage is taken from a stunning book by Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada called When God Weeps and as hard-hitting and gritty this is… This is where we find our freedom. Freedom from our own sin. Freedom to forgive others. Freedom.
The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33: 19-22).
The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his brow…
‘On your back with you!’ One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the solider’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the solider’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do ‘all things hold together’ (Colossians 1: 17). The victim wills that the solider live on – he grants the warrior’s continued existence. The man swings.
As the man swings the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. ‘Up you go!’ They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odour began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face his Father like this.
From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.
‘Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molests young boys, peddled killer drugs, travels in cliques, and mocks your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end!
Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe, these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?
Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
‘Father, Father! Why have you forsaken me?!’
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished.
The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin. The Rescue was accomplished.
My sin both led to and was forgiven by that act of love.
And it doesn’t end at the cross. Jesus didn’t just perish for us. Jesus defeated death. He died for us and rose from the dead for us. He still lives, pursuing us, and calling us into freedom. One day He will return and lead us into that eternal freedom.