Brutal Cross, Glorious Resurrection

A Remembrance

At Easter each year, many people remember an event of such profound magnitude that the course of all human life was altered. A man stepped out of obscurity and began to love people in a manner that no person had ever witnessed before. He opened the eyes of the blind, enabled the disabled to walk, healed the sick and even raised people from the dead. He was gentle and compassionate to the repentant, strong and insistent to the proud. To those who were searching, He provided answers. To the Lost, He imparted a new life.

Brutal Cross Cover

Brutal Cross, Glorious Resurrection,” The new book by Robert Clifton Robinson, just in time for Easter. $3.77 at Amazon

There has never been another like Jesus of Nazareth. His entrance into the world, His suffering and death, His resurrection from the grave, are the most important events of history.

Before the cross, before the resurrection, Jesus suffered unimaginable anguish and torture. It was not the physical brutality of crucifixion which vexed Jesus the most. There was a depth of suffering that no mere human has any knowledge of. The despair of Jesus soul was the moment when He enveloped the sins of the world. As the eternal God who is perfect in every way, Jesus had never known sin personally. The stain of imperfection had never touched God, nor could it. Only when Jesus volunteered to become our sins, could this plague overtaken Him.

At the cross, the weight of the world’s evil was emptied into Jesus. Every vile and filthy deed of men. All the horrendous acts of violence and hatred. Every greedy and lustful action, murder, and theft. All sins—for all time, Jesus encompassed them all.

The Old Testament describes a “cup” of God’s wrath that is poured out upon the guilty. The wrath and judgement of God—directed at those who will not repent and turn to God in seeking His forgiveness. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked the Father if this cup, which was full of all God’s fury against sin, could be taken from Him. The answer came swiftly and without hesitation: Jesus must drink—fully and completely. The only hope of redemption for any person, resided in Jesus drinking that cup and thereby removing all our sins at the cross. If Jesus did not die in payment for our transgressions, there would be no forgiveness and eternal life for anyone.

What Jesus Experienced

Have you ever been mocked or publicly ridiculed in front of other people? The hurt and emptiness of your soul, leaves you in utter desolation. The feelings of rejection and helplessness are indescribable. From the deepest recess of your innermost being comes a wave of emotions that thrusts you up against a wall of fear and torment. When you are accused of things that you did not do; when those whom you believed were your closest friends—abandon you and leave your heart in a cold dark place where your soul finds no comfort.

In the final hours of Jesus’ life, He was all alone; even God had forsaken Him while He was on the cross. The humiliation that Jesus felt, the sorrow, fear and anguish that racked His body and mind. All of these horrible experiences were eternally unknown to God. The Creator of all things had observed the sorrow of men and the suffering that they had endured through countless generations on the earth, because of sin, but God had never—Himself, experienced physical torture or the horrors of death. Imagine the feelings that the Lord experienced as these horrible events were thrust upon Him. Everything that Jesus suffered through and endured, He did for us. He stood up against the full wrath of evil men when they brutalized Him, that He was barely recognizable as a human being.

Beaten Beyond Recognition

Isaiah 52:14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men

Isaiah describes a man who was so brutalized, that other men near Him—did not recognize a human form. More than 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah portrayed Jesus as one who would suffer, not for His own sins, but for the world.

By the richness of the Psalms, written by David, we see the great foresight and purpose of God in sending His Son into the world for our salvation. What none of us could possibly imagine, is the intense suffering that Jesus felt when He took upon Himself all of our sins and experienced the wrath of God. Jesus was wiling to bear the complete judgement of God for us, so that no person would ever bear any retribution or wrath themselves.

It was perhaps the idea of God that when we read the poetry of David’s words, while in our own deep despair, we might remember the cross where our Lord gave everything for us, so that we might live.

Jesus fully committed Himself to the will of the Father. Though He was God, He was also a man with all of the normal difficulties and temptations that all men experience. Despite His massive trials, Jesus did not waiver from the course which was determined for Him. He never lost sight of His true intended purpose during the three and one half years of His ministry: to go to the cross and purchase our redemption.

All Alone

Psalms 69:14-15 “Deliver me out of the mire, And let me not sink; Let me be delivered from those who hate me, And out of the deep waters. Let not the floodwater overflow me, Nor let the deep swallow me up; And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.

Have you ever felt as if you were alone in your suffering and anguish? Have you been distressed and perplexed over the things that people have done to you? When you needed a friend to be close at hand, were they unavailable, unwilling, or callously unaware of your need for their love and encouragement?

When Jesus was near the time of His arrest and the suffering that He would endure, it was the compassion of close friends that He desired most. Jesus looked for a trusted friend who would sit with Him and whisper a few words of encouragement and comfort. Sadly, during Jesus hour of desperation, none of His closest friends came to help Him. All those who were with the Lord had fallen fast asleep. Jesus was left all alone to bear the anguish and torture of what was ahead. In a few hours, He would take upon Himself the full weight of the world’s sin and become every filthy and vile act that has been done on the earth since Adam.

God wanted us to understand the emotions of those final hours that His Son experienced. He desired that we might comprehend the depth of emotional torture and abandonment that Jesus felt as He went to the cross for us. The depth of sorrow that Jesus encountered was magnified greatly as He is forsaken by the very men who had pledged their hearts and lives to Him. When the Lord needed His friends the most, they were not there to comfort Him. Immediately, after Jesus was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, all of the disciples abandoned Him in fear that they would also be arrested and crucified. Hidden away behind locked doors, the men who had walked with Jesus for more than three years, were nowhere to be found.

Matthew 26:36-45 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?

In Psalms 69:14-15 (above), David describes the mire and deep waters that swallowed Jesus up on the night before He would be viciously beaten and tortured to death on the cross. In considering what it must have been like for the Lord to suffer the anguish of that final night, we can catch a glimpse of the emotions that He certainly felt. Matthew 26:36-45 records the fulfillment of this prophecy in the heart-wrenching despair that Jesus experienced, and how He stayed the course that was written for Him in the many prophecies of the Messiah and fulfilled every word that God had spoken.

The Horrors of the Cross

To be crucified for crimes that you have committed was considered the most hideous of deaths. Those who witnessed the execution of a condemned man by crucifixion were often repulsed and sickened at the horror and suffering they observed. The Old Testament made it clear that anyone who was hanged on a tree was cursed by God.

Deuteronomy 21:23 “…his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, once described crucifixion in the most graphic of texts.

“Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all? Can any man by found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly wounds on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony? He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross.”[1]

A person who was under crucifixion was considered the lowest of the human species. The fact that Psalm 22:16 describes Jesus as bearing the reproach of crucifixion and all the suffering that this form of execution contained, is astounding. This was the purpose for which Jesus came to earth—to take the reproach that was ours and remove it forever. Sin and death are the two abiding curses that have plagued all mankind for over 6,000 years.

When Adam listened to Eve and disobeyed God, to eat of the fruit that He forbade—from that moment on, the curse was upon all men.[2] Jesus’ purpose in allowing Himself to be crucified was to take this curse that had been ours, and place it upon Himself. Jesus became our curse, thereby removing it from us forever.

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)…

A Broken Heart

Psalms 69:20 Reproach has broken my heart, And I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none.

If we will meditate for a moment on the words of this verse and consider how we might feel if these words were to come from our lips, we can gain some understanding as to what it was like for Jesus, as He took upon Himself the reproach of the cross and the immense agony of suffering for our sins.

The disapproval and disappointment of all those who watched Jesus die, was unfounded, not understanding that He was being put to death for their sins, as well as those of the entire world. We might forget that although Jesus is a human being like us, He is also God who has never known sin or death before. Bearing the heavy burden of our reproach was an overwhelming depth of anguish for Jesus.

Falsely Accused

When we have been falsely accused of things that we know we did not do, and people look at us with disgust, or they refuse to speak to us at all—our heart breaks with intense despair.

I have spoken of a time when I was falsely accused of things that I did not do.[3] When I read of the anguish that Jesus suffered at having been accused of crimes He did not commit—when I contemplate the suffering that He endured while being arrested, accused, beaten, and crucified—I understand a fragment of what He felt. Perhaps, you have gone through a similar set of circumstances, so that you can also identify with Jesus’ reproach. I count it today as a great privilege to have suffered in some small measure, in the same manner that my Lord suffered. His suffering was to bear my sin; my small suffering was for the purpose of allowing me to understand a portion of what Jesus felt when He died for me.

Bearing Our Reproach

Spoken by David: I also have become a reproach to them; When they look at me, they shake their heads. —Psalms 109:25

Fulfilled by Jesus: And those who passed by blasphemed Jesus, wagging their heads… —Matthew 27:39

We should understand that the reproach Jesus bore, when He went to the cross for us, affected Him in far greater intensity than reproach affects us. We are all sinners; we are used to sin and how it often devastates our emotions. Jesus was without sin; He had never felt the effects of sin upon His Soul, prior to the time when He became sin for us. At the moment that Jesus took our sins and bore them in His body, the reproach and hatred that people had for Him was felt by Him in exponential volume.

Jesus was sinless and perfect; when suddenly, the weight of the world’s evil was inflicted upon Him. The horror of that moment is incalculable and unimaginable.

To be hanging on a cross with your lifeblood pouring out on the ground, while men and women are gathered around you—sneering and scoffing at your pain, must have been unbearable for Jesus. Those who mocked Jesus are said to have “wagged their heads,” which is a term used to describe someone in utter disrepute over another. People were disgusted with Jesus, and they hated Him for claiming to die for their sins.

The fact that the Holy Spirit authored Psalms 109:25 (above), pointing the way to Jesus Christ who would fulfill the words described by David, is truly amazing. I do not think that Christians and the church, in general, give adequate consideration to how Jesus felt during the final hours when He suffered before and during His crucifixion.

When I sit and consider how it would feel to be in Jesus’ place as these things were being said and done to Him, I do not understand how He had the clarity of mind and strength of heart to go through with it at all. We must remember that Jesus had already seen what was going to happen to Him before this day ever arrived. He was well acquainted with how much pain there would be for Him. He knew of the reproach that the Psalms and Isaiah spoke of, before these events would take place. Even so, Jesus came to earth and went to the cross—despite His knowledge of what was in store for Him. Most of us, if we were shown how much suffering we would have to endure throughout our life, would give up—long before we had ever begun.

Jesus saw something farther in the distance and more important than the suffering and reproach spoken of by this prophecy. He contemplated the time when all those who have believed in Him would stand together in great Joy, having arrived in Heaven to see His face and behold the beauty and peace of our new home. Can you see it? The vision of billions of believers together in heaven, at the feet of Jesus, having completed all the trials and difficulties of this life.

May we bear His reproach gladly while we are still here; as we defend Him and His word and ever-stand for Him as faithful friends. May we look forward to His appearance again here on earth and the establishment of His eternal kingdom.

When God Became a Man

Place yourself now in Nazareth. You are standing beside the road across the way from where Mary and Joseph live. A toddler is wobbling back and forth as he takes his first steps. He stumbles and falls to the ground. His mother runs to his side and picks him up, dusting off the dirt and comforting Him. Suddenly, you realize—this is the Son of God, the One who made all things that exist. He has not always been a human being. He has never previously existed as a tiny boy. He was, and always shall be: the King of the Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

Jesus walked the halls of heaven for eternity, now He must learn to walk. He has spoken the universe into existence, now He must learn to speak. He lived in glory and perfection, now He must endure every human difficulty.

The greatest question that man should ask is not why we are here, but why did God come here? Why would the Creator arrive in such humility and simplicity—revealing Himself to the world as a helpless infant?

In order for the Son of God to become the Savior of all men, He would experience every difficulty that all men experience.

From normal birth, infancy—into the teen years and adulthood, our Savior would understand what it was like to be one of us. Jesus felt every pain, suffering, and heartache that all men feel. He observed poverty, sickness and death. He was tempted in every area that all men are tempted. In all His life, He never sinned, nor did He fail to be perfect in every regard.

This is why Jesus could die for us, because He was one of us. He can perfectly sympathize with all of our struggles and weaknesses and comprehend what it is like to be human. He did this so that every person, even those in the lowest estate of life, could come to Jesus—knowing that He understands.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus, a Man of Sorrows.

If you have ever watched a person suffer, then perhaps you can understand the meaning of Isaiah’s words. To observe someone in misery, is emotionally overwhelming and exhausting. Imagine God, gazing from heaven, seeing each one of us in our suffering; missing the incredible blessings that He created for us to enjoy—knowing that we would never be able to achieve true satisfaction and the genuine purpose for which we were intended, unless He intervened and came to save us.

As Jesus observed us, His heart was moved with compassion. He saw us in the true state of our desperation, and He was compelled to act. He would come to earth and die for our sins, so that they would be no more, and our estrangement from God would come to an end. As Jesus walked amongst us, He watched our suffering because of sin. He longed to remove it and looked earnestly towards the day when He would hang on the cross and bear all of our shame. When that day arrived, it was both wonderful and wicked. Our sins would be removed, but at a cost to the Son of God—at the hands of evil men, that cannot be fully understood by any of us. Jesus was made sin for us. Could we fathom what this means? The perfect Son of God was covered with the filth of human sin, bathed in the stench of our wickedness; and He took it all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (RCR)

Jesus did not die only for those who would receive Him. He also died for the people who would never receive His sacrifice for their sins.

The sorrow that Jesus felt at the moment His life was made an offering for all of us—is unimaginable. I believe that the suffering Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross, were beyond our ability to comprehend as mere human beings. It may be, that even in eternity, we will not fully comprehend the depth of Jesus’ suffering and the grief that He felt in making His life an offering for us.

The Lamb of God

Two days ago I revisited a movie that forever changed the way I understood what Jesus felt during His sacrifice for us. “The Passion of the Christ” is without parallel in its ability to demonstrate the terrible suffering that Jesus endured at the hands of evil men. Many people have criticized Mel Gibson for the graphic way in which he showed Jesus bloodied and butchered before the whole world. In reality, it appears from the description of Isaiah in chapter 52, that Mr. Gibson did not go far enough.

Isaiah 52:14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men…

When John describes Jesus in the Book of Revelation, he details the appearance of the Lord as like a lamb as though it had been slain. Even after His resurrection, Jesus apparently still bore the scars on His face and body that resulted from His torture and death.

Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain

It is difficult to image the Creator of all things—brutally butchered for us. The fact that Jesus allowed these evil men to disfigure Him so profoundly that He was barely recognizable as a man, gives us a glimpse into the severity with which God hates the sin that has made it necessary for Jesus to die by such vicious and violent acts. Conversely, God must also love us so greatly that He would permit His only Son to be beaten beyond recognition.

If anyone should ever accuse God of not loving people, every mouth would immediately be silenced upon seeing Jesus’ scarred and grossly disfigured face. Isaiah’s prophecy describes the Messiah—barely recognizable as a man. His visage or face would be marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14, above).

When we examine the testimony of those who observed the manner in which Jesus was beaten, we see that He was brutalized in precisely the same manner that Isaiah described. Of greater surprise are the details of these events that took place after Jesus was raised from the dead.

John 20:27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side…

Jesus was instructing Thomas to touch the scars that remained where His body had been pierced.

This is incredible when we consider that Jesus will heal the scars of every person, at our Rapture or Resurrection; yet the scars that resulted from His beating and crucifixion will remain with Him forever. We will all be perfect and beautiful, while Jesus will bear the marks of His terrible death, for all eternity. Jesus has the power to heal all our scars, but He will not heal His own. He allows the evidence of His suffering to remain as an eternal testimony of how great His love is for all of us.

From our vantage point as human beings, it is difficult to understand why God would be willing to become one of us, just so that we could viciously put Him to death. If the roles were reversed, most people would say that they would not give their life, or be willing to go through horrible torture and suffering, for anyone who has conducted themselves in the manner that humankind has acted during our brief history upon the earth.

The real suffering that Jesus endured was not experienced during the six hours in which He hung in agony upon the cross. It was the mental and spiritual anguish that He felt as He was abandoned by God and forsaken, when He was made sin for us.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

The Father turned away from the Son when He took all of our sins upon Himself. Just as we cannot have fellowship with God because of our sin, the Father could no longer have fellowship with the Son when He became sin for us. None of us could possibly fathom what it was like for the Son of God to be separated from the Father when He died for us. Imagine the unbroken love and fellowship, that had existed for countless eons, suddenly broken because of our sins, when they were placed upon Jesus.

Jesus did this for us because of His great love. Even while we were still sinners, He was willing to die for us.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Horrible Consequences of Crucifixion

Death by crucifixion was really death by suffocation. As the condemned person’s arms are outstretched to each side of the upper cross member, the lungs are compressed, causing great difficulty in breathing.[4]

The only way that the condemned could take a breath is by pushing down onto the wooden platform of the cross, with their nail pierced feet, to relieve pressure on the upper arms. This allowed the lungs to decompress, permitting air to be taken into the lungs. The intense pain that would be experienced during this frequent procedure, would be unimaginable. With each lifting of the body, the torn and bleeding back of Jesus would scrape against the splintered wood of the cross, causing additional tearing and bleeding.[5]

During the crucifixions of that time, many of the condemned were scourged before being placed on the cross. The purpose of the scourge was to exact a confession of guilt. If a confession of the crimes committed was made early, the criminal would receive fewer lashes from the scourge. In Jesus’ case, He had no crimes to confess because He was innocent of all charges to which He was accused. Paradoxically, because Jesus was innocent, He endured greater suffering, as He was forced to take all 39 lashes. The torture of the scourge was so severe that many men expired long before they made it to the cross.

Because Jesus was fulfilling prophecy, He was required to endure the full number of 39 strikes by the scourge as well as the horrible brutality of the cross. It was not until all of this misery was heaped upon Jesus that He permitted His Spirit to depart His body, allowing death to free Him from this horrible suffering.

Psalms 22:14, describes the Messiah’s heart melting like wax within Him.

Finally, when dehydration and exhaustion ended their efforts to raise the body up to breathe, the torture achieved its intended goal; being deprived of oxygen, the heart begins to accelerate its rate to over 300 beats per minute, called: “Tachardia.”

In one final massive failure, the heart bursts—due to the stress placed upon it and the crucified dies immediately.

The testimony of those who were present at the time that Jesus was crucified, describes a Roman soldier who pierced Jesus side to ensure that He was dead. As the lance pierced Jesus flesh—blood and water came from the wound.

John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

Medical science describes the process of intense stress upon the heart, when under the suffering of crucifixion: The outer lining of the heart will often fill with fluid. As the heart races to try and carry the limited availability of oxygen to the lungs, the stress becomes so great that the heart ruptures. The presence of blood and water from the wound as described by the Apostle John, is an indication that Jesus heart had ruptured due to “Pericardial Effusion.” Literally, Jesus heart melted within Him and He died of a broken heart.

This book is written as a remembrance and celebration for what Jesus has accomplished. These words will do little for those who care nothing for Jesus or His suffering. This text is written for people who love the Lord already, and for those who are still searching for truth. Contained within the pages of this book is a reminder of the events that Jesus endured for us—so that He might express publicly, His great love.

Over the course of the past two-thousand years, the critics of Jesus, believed that the events of His death and resurrection would soon be soon forgotten. Through every generation, the Bible has remained the best selling book of all time. The narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection are still the most important events in the history of the world. Today, over two billion people love and adore Jesus for His selfless sacrifice upon the cross. This book is dedicated to the memory of His great love.


NOTES:
[1] A letter by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Dialogue 3:2.2, (“Contemptissimum putarem, si vivere vellet usque ad crucem … Est tanti vulnus suum premere et patibulo pendere districtum … Invenitur, qui velit adactus ad illud infelix lignum, iam debilis, iam pravus et in foedum scapularum ac pectoris tuber elisus, cui multae moriendi causae etiam citra crucem fuerant, trahere animam tot tormenta tracturam?” – Letter 101, 12-14)
[2] Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.”
[3] Author’s personal experience, as described in his book: “The Prophecies of the Messiah,” Chapter 118.
[4] Please see the chapter “The Crucifixion of Jesus”
[5] Please see the chapter on “The Crucifixion of Jesus.”

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