We do not know what time Eve and Adam betrayed reality by tearing its fabric, opening the veil between evil and consciousness by eating fruit of a tree for which they were not yet prepared or authorized. But we know that they hid from the Lord as He sought them “in the cool of the day”.
The Lord confronted them, offered them the opportunity to trust Him with the truth (which they sidestepped), and sadly had to rescue them by protecting them from what was now tremendous danger to them, the Tree of Life. It only took a matter of hours, for Creation to be torn asunder. The Perfection of Creation was ripped from God’s plan, by the sin of Adam. In Adam, all men fell. From this perfect place, this perfect time, this perfect life… came forth death and utter corruption.
Fast Forward… who knows how many years…
Again, Creation Itself trembles on a brink of unthinkable, unspeakable, inexpressible change. God Himself has entered the full frailty of humanity. He has lived a mortal life. He has walked in perfect harmony of God’s will. And the world, the fallen world, this broken world, all the corruption of all of time, is now come together to focus on Him. The Darkness of all of Time has come to this point… to find Jesus… to focus on Jesus… to crush Jesus… to kill Jesus. All the corruption, all the sin, all the darkness and shadow that crept into reality through the rent fabric of the Garden… Now all of that takes aim at Jesus, through the crosshairs of the Crucifixion. The Redemption of Creation was restored through the sacrifice of Christ. In Jesus Creation was restored.
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.[Romans 5:18-19]
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How… how simply Incredible… is all of this? Don Merriitt is going through a wonderful review of the Book of Hebrews right now at The Life Project, and there you see this incredible explanation of mechanics of redemption through faith, connecting the dots between Jesus and fulfillment of Old Testament Law and worship practices. Who can follow all of that, really? Not I. Definitely “above my pay grade” stuff. God engineered redemption with such care and crafting that vast portions of it are simply mystery to me. I can embrace the truth of them, but not comprehend the means. There is only faith for all that.
But through the one… Adam… all fell. Through the One… Jesus… all is made whole. And in all of that, that tremendous realignment of Creation itself… Jesus did that… Alone.
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This year, as the tremendous grief of Good Friday does indeed wash over me, as often in years past… This year… I was struck with a different thought than ever before. I have often been struck by the “aloneness” of the Passion and Redemption before, yes. Judas abandoned the fellowship of Disciples, yes. Jesus begs the Father to take His cup away, yes. The disciples there sleep as Jesus prays, rather than standing an hour of vigil, yes. Peter, one of Jesus’ best friends denies Him, yes. All desert Him at His trial and on the way to the Cross, but for some women who stay with Him, yes. At the very foot of the Cross itself, there is only young John and His mother, standing loyally by. All the rest have fled, yes. And then there is that final moment, the separation that tears the Veil asunder, when Jesus cries out, “Lord, Lord, why have You forsaken Me!”
Year by year, all of these alone-nesses, all of these separations, all have focused my attention across time.
But this year, it was very different. This year, all I could sense and feel was Jesus’ being torn away from the Father. And all I could think was to wonder, “What did He FEEL as it happened?” I mean, think of it, never before in the history of the universe, had Jesus ever been ALONE… apart from the Father.
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I found myself wondering, as Jesus approached these moments through this week, KNOWING what was going to happen and what He needed to do… when you reflect on His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, that the Father spare Him this…
Did Jesus feel abandoned?
In that He experienced all that we do, short of sin… how did He feel as the first moment of Aloneness in the history of time… approached? We see David feel this from time to time. We see Job, the Disciples, countless others throughout the Bible. I have felt abandoned by friends… haven’t you? I know no pain greater than to be in a time of great trial, say, like Jesus, approaching death, and have a beloved friend or family member abandon one, go silent, ignore you. Can you imagine that? Now can you imagine such a thing between Jesus and the Father? Inconceivable, isn’t it?
Jesus declares that He feels “forsaken”. He was utterly desolate and alone. He had, over His time on the Cross, BECOME sin. All sin for all time. And for the first and only moment in all of time, He could not feel the presence of His (Our) Father. How lonely would that be? How abandoned?
I have to wonder, did He feel “betrayed”?
He shared all of our feelings. Would we feel abandoned and betrayed? Did He?
What a depressing prospect, eh? What a hopeless and sad story this is, isn’t it?
But it ISN’T! This, this Passion, Crucifixion, to be followed by Resurrection and Pentecost… is the pinnacle of the GOOD NEWS! So it is very important, even in the depths of the sadness of the Cross, to realize where Light lies in the heart of such darkness.
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As we ponder just how alone Jesus was through our salvation, we are struck with the pain of that. Can there be anything so painful, so deeply wounding, as the realization that, especially as one approaches death, a friend, friends, or family that have sworn to be with you, stay with you, walk with you, and treasure you… no longer can be found? That they abandon you? Do we feel betrayed by that?
And, if that is the case… if Jesus felt not only that sadness and loneliness of being abandoned, but even the pain of betrayal as well… how did He handle it? What did it take, what WOULD it take, simply to walk on through the experience, through the pain, through the abandonment, through the betrayal?
I can tell you what it took… what it takes… faith… and love.
And that is the Good News here. Jesus experienced something absolutely unique in all of His lifetime in those hours. He experienced what leads people to death at their own hands every day. Abandonment, betrayal, and nearly total isolation. Only one disciple, some women, and His mom showed the courage not to flee. Only they could bear the pain to watch Him die, or dare the risk not to run and hide from Him.
Jesus always felt the love. Supremely, He felt the love from the Cross. As the multitudes looked upon Him, vilified Him, spat at Him, threw garbage at Him as slowly he bled and suffocated on a garbage heap… Jesus said only one thing over them to the Father. He begged that the Father would forgive them.
And, as His life ebbed from Him drop by drop and breath by breath, as He BECAME all sin for all time… As thus He allowed death to creep into Him, sin by sin over three hours… He was transformed from Life to death, so necrotic of spirit that for the first time in the history of time, He was so “dead” He could not feel the Father’s presence and love. In His anguish He cries out for the Father’s presence, but there seems to be no response. How bitter is that? How sour and galling?
So what does He do?
He goes on.
He can’t hear comfort. He can’t feel comfort. He can’t see relief or comfort. But He knows who He is, and where He is, and what He is to do. So, in faith alone, and fully in love, He goes on and surrenders to the horror that is happening. Having BECOME very sin itself, He thirsts, He drinks, and He dies.
And… thus… He WINS! He CONQUERS!
He, God, Son of God, had to be brought to the very brink of will and faith itself, and, fueled by love alone, He had to step over the edge. And He did.
THIS is why we can experience faith at all. This is why we can experience love, trust, and compassion. This is why the Garden, its separation, its boundaries, its lies and illusions wafted in vapors of guilt and shame by the serpent who engineered the Fall… this is why none of that can bind us any longer.
Jesus freed us from all that, simply by experiencing the very depths of abandonment, betrayal, loneliness, and loss… and yet giving Himself over utterly in faith, and trust, and love. He walked on through His duty as if He had all the armies of encouragement, friends, family, servants, walking alongside Him. He carried on as if He were Moses with Joshua’s supporting hands for His tired arms.
Jesus treated those who abandoned Him, who claimed to have treasured Him, who turned away from Him as He approached death… as if none of that happened. He looked upon his betrayers and abandoners, loved them anyway, prayed for them, and gave up His life for them. Just as we are to do to love as He loves, without regard for their words or their silences. He simply walked on in His love for them, for the Father, for us… as though it were any other day. He “betrayed betrayal” by simply giving it no traction and loving on through the pain of seeing those He loved and trusted reject and abandon Him.
Here is tremendous power. Here is the combination of faith and love. Here is the truth that changes hearts, changes lives, and… this day… changed the universe itself.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” [Matthew 26:39]
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.[John 19:30]
How do we win, how do we triumph in the joy that is Christ’s life, here and now, as we deal with the pain of this world? We drink the vinegar and absorb all that pain in faith and love. We refrain from using any of our resources, our swords, our words, our angels, to defend ourselves or set things right. We trust the Father, we declare our efforts finished, and we exhale.
Next… we will see about the Father’s response to such faith, trust, love…