On the cross Jesus suffered and endured the full weight of God’s holy anger. He took the full weight of an eternal hell compressed and tamped down. Jesus proclaimed upon his last breath, “It is finished.” (John 19:31) What is finished? Among other things, he finished his work of satisfying the wrath of God. He suffered hell on earth. He emptied the cup. As Charles Spurgeon says, “He drank damnation dry.”
This week Christians all over the world will remember the death of Christ on Good Friday. As we do we will recall the gruesome reality of the cross. We would be well-served to consider what was at the heart of the cross.
About 10 years ago the movie The Passion of Christ was extremely popular. In it the filmmakers attempted to portray the gruesome nature of the crucifixion. The torture received by Jesus was reflected in the movie and the point was clearly made: Jesus suffered immensely at the hands of his accusers.
But if this is all we see when we consider the cross of Christ then we have not yet drilled down to see its core.
The night before Jesus was betrayed he was in deep agony in Gethsemane. He said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matt. 26:38). In Luke’s Gospel we read that his agony was so intense that as he prayed earnestly he sweat drops of blood. Was it the prospect of human torture that drove Christ to this agony? Was Jesus in agony at the prospect of dying for his faith? Was he dreading martyrdom?
We learn the answer in his prayer. His agony centers on a cup.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”” (Matt. 26:39)
(This post is an excerpt from my book Is Hell for Real? due out in August 2017.)