This is something I will never forget… I was in a Bible study once, and the leader had us set our Bibles in front of us. I’d just bought a new one, and it was the first time I was using it. It had taken me weeks to choose the “perfect” one, and if you use your Bible a lot, you know what I mean by that. There were about eight of us in the class, and the leader said, “I want you to hit your Bible as hard as you can.”
Eight sets of eyes looked at her like she’d lost her crazy mind. No. There would be no hitting of the Bible. But she insisted. And we did. While she counted. At about the fifth strike, most of us got it. And by the time we stopped at 39, none of us were dry-eyed. In fact, most of us were completely wrecked. Somehow, for the first time, we grasped what it took for Jesus to be beaten. We grasped that we were the ones whose sin necessitated it. If it was so hard to strike His Word, what did it take to strike Him?
Now, I don’t suggest hitting your Bible. I’ve never, ever done that again. It feels… I don’t know. But I know how it felt that night.
Today, I was reading Luke 23 and thinking about the man who drove the nails in Jesus’ hands. The men who flogged Him, taunted Him, tortured Him… and I wondered how they did it.
I wondered how God did it.
Anybody remember Uzzah? Back in II Samuel 6, Uzzah touched the Ark. And Uzzah died. God was so angry with Uzzah for disrespecting His holiness in the Ark that He struck Uzzah immediately.
Yet in the Gospels, in the wonderful and terrible story of our salvation, God allowed them to strike His son, the holy God-man Jesus. Not once, but many times. To death. To the point that the earth nearly tore itself apart and the sun refused to shine. Was it hard for Him to hold back? What kind of pain was the very Father God enduring? I mean, I think often of what Jesus endured, but do I think of what God on the throne, God who could have stopped this, God who holds everything was going through? It’s nearly certain He was not a passive observer, a disinterested onlooker. After all, this was His Son. It was HIMSELF.
And this was for His beloved. Do we grasp that? Do we grasp the love it took for Jesus to die and for God to look on? And not just for Jesus to die, but for Him to bear the unendurable suffering of an entire world’s sin?
And to love the hands that drove in the nails as much as He loved the hands who accepted the nails? I think Mel Gibson got it right when he said, during the making of The Passion, that he was the one who drove the nails during the crucifixion scene. Why? “It was me that put Him on the cross. It was my sins that put Him there.” That’s true for all of us.
And yet God loved us enough… and still loves us enough.