THE SOBBING SAVIOR
By: Frank G. Tunstall
I thought about it hundreds of times over the years, I guess, why didn’t the gospel writers tell us more about the raw suffering Jesus experienced leading up to the cross? Then one day I decided to study the key passages in the Greek, and discovered what I was looking for. Now I commend it to you, my readers, at this Easter season. Six scenes stand out in in Jesus’ experience during Passion Week, leading up to His crucifixion, and they open the window to look inside His heart and feel His great agony.
1. The first comes at the beginning of the week, when Jesus approached Jerusalem in His triumphal entry. He paused to look at the beloved city and began to weep (Luke 19:41; see also John 11:35). The word Luke used derives from klaio and communicates actual sobbing and even wailing.
“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:42-44 NIV).
THINK ABOUT IT: Can you identify with Jesus’ pain when, with tear-filled eyes, He sobbed and even moaned over the city, as He prophesied its destruction?
Jesus had confronted the curse of sin repeatedly in His ministry but the load He was carrying was beginning to mushroom as He entered Jerusalem in His triumphal entry. He deeply felt the city’s scorn that was directed at Him. One can picture Jesus’ tears and imagine his groaning while He prophesied the destruction of the city and the ruin of the temple He knew was ahead.
The devastation that was pending for the City of David and its holy temple could have been prevented, if they had known what would bring them peace, and it all starts with knowing the Prince of peace. But it was not to be (Isaiah 9:6). The Roman legions destroyed the city and the temple in 70 A.D. Many Jews prayed for their Messiah to come and save them. But they had rejected their Savior and continued to look for Him everywhere except at the foot of His cross.
I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the Gates of Light,
If the way of the cross I miss.
The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home;
It is sweet to know, as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.
By: Jesse Pounds
It is very important in our generation, yes, necessary, for pastors and teachers to speak of the wrath of God and the judgment to come (Acts 17:31; Hebrews 9:27). Failure to do so produces Christians with an anemic understanding of the exceeding sinfulness on sin. But we must proclaim it following the Lord’s example, with a broken heart and even misty eyes.
2. During the visit of some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus, the Lord made this heart-wrenching statement: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27 NIV).
Jesus’ emotions are revealed in the Greek word for troubled, tarasso. It suggests stirred or agitated, and an illustration is the roiling, turbulent waves of the sea in a storm. A paraphrase renders it: “Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’?” (John 12:27 Msg). In His true humanity, the load ahead was enough to create “storm-tossed” emotions. It would also quite naturally produce the thought, Father, an escape route, please!
Our Lord, however, answered His own question with a resounding, “No!”
These Greeks standing right in front of Him illustrated to Jesus that the cross would reap a great harvest. Jesus’ death and resurrection would open the gates of heaven to them, and millions more Gentiles like them
3. After the Greeks departed, the Lord faced cold rejection from the Jews when He tried to teach about His being the same in essence as His Father. Their refusal to believe was influenced by their view the Messiah would live forever and would never allow Himself to suffer and be shamefully crucified. In that situation Jesus “cried out” in a bold claim to Deity, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me” (John 12:44 NIV). The term translated “cried out,” (ekraxen) is loaded with emotion. It derives from krazo and communicates to call aloud, to exclaim, to entreat, even to scream out (see John 7:37; 12:16, 46). At a minimum, Jesus spoke to His detractors with a very shattered heart and crushed feelings.
This kind of emotional struggle is no doubt part of what the writer of Hebrews had in mind:
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-10 NIV).
The phrase, “He learned obedience” does not suggest Jesus had been disobedient in His past. Instead, the sense of the statement is the man, Jesus of Nazareth, “learned the [wisdom of] obedience” because of what He suffered. Nor does the phrase, “once made perfect” assume a time when Jesus was imperfect. Instead, the Biblical concept of perfection or sanctification is best defined by the term, set apart. When Jesus made His decision a final time in Gethsemane to drink the cup of suffering, He was indeed perfected in the sense of being totally set apart unto the Father’s plan and dedicated to the mission ahead. His objective was to pay the price and become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9 NIV).
THINK ABOUT IT: It is no accident the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to pen Jesus is “touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).
4. The fourth scene of Jesus’ suffering occurred at the Passover meal. Jesus announced one of His own had lifted up his heel against Him (see Genesis 3:15; John 13:18). After that announcement, the Lord proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet. When He had finished and sat back down, “Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me’” (John 13:21). The word for “troubled” derives from tarasso. It is the same word used in John 12:27 at the visit of the Greeks. It communicates stirred up or agitated. Jesus, the Son of Man, was certain about His pending betrayal, and that knowledge was understandably very upsetting for Him.
Jesus began to relax after Judas and the devil departed, and changed the focus of the conversation. He started looking past His betrayal and death, and started talking with His disciples about His pending glorification (John 13:31-32).
5. One can only imagine what Jesus felt when He led the disciples in the hymn, probably Psalm 118, as the evening of the Passover meal neared its end.
“The stone the builders rejected [Jesus] has become the cornerstone….”
“Bind the festal sacrifice with cords [Jesus], up to the horns of the altar….”
THINK ABOUT IT: Jesus is the Cornerstone and the Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 2:20 NIV). Jesus sang the 1000-year-old psalm knowing it had been inspired by the Holy Spirit and had sat on the shelf of history for a millennium waiting for Him to come – for this very moment. Jesus knew He was singing for His own funeral. Jesus would be nailed to a cross by nine o’clock the next morning.
Psalm 118 is also filled with the emotions of hope and assurance that surely boosted Jesus’ spirit. A few excerpts follow:
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!”
“I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; His steadfast love endures forever.”
THINK ABOUT IT: If you knew tonight would be your last meal with your family, what would your emotions be?
It was Jesus’ last meal – hence the term, the Last Supper. It was also quite possibly Judas’ last meal too.
The bleak sorrow that covered the night was unmistakably unnerving. How did Jesus and His disciples eat a meal in that atmosphere? The greater amazement was that Judas could eat at Jesus’ table that night, but he did. Then, Judas left the room heart-to-heart with the devil.
6. The sixth scene of Jesus’ suffering peaked immediately after Jesus reached Gethsemane. The NIV describes Jesus as “deeply distressed and troubled” when He entered the Garden. This rendering comes from two Greek root words in Mark 14:33. The first is ekthambeo, translated as “deeply distressed,” in the sense of startlingly miserable and alarmed. Jesus knew what was coming against Him, but in His humanity the raw terror of it all was hitting home, leaving the Son of Man feeling utterly upset and crushed. Yes, Jesus was experiencing extremely painful feelings that were new to Him as the load of the sins of the world sank in. The Lord had “plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony” (Mark 14:33 Msg). Jesus was well aware of the price He would pay over the next few hours to provide the cure for sin.
The second word, for “troubled” is ademoneo. It expresses the heavy load on Jesus that was so great it was actually oppressive. The contemporary image of a tsunami fits. Up until this point the huge and deadly wave had been out at sea; but now it was staring Him in the face.
Another word picture of Jesus being troubled embraces the idea of a person who eats a meal to the point he is sated, or stuffed, and cannot eat another bite. Jesus was full, but of bitter grief (not food), and He felt like He could not swallow another “crumb.” Much greater than the thought of the physical pain ahead was the fact Jesus was already under the load of the sins of the whole world. The pain must have been horrendous.
Mark continued to describe the extent of this deep emotional agony. “My anguish is so great I feel as if I’m dying. Wait here, and stay awake” (Mark 14:34 GW).The word Mark used for anguish, perílupós, communicates sadness so intense every part of Jesus’ body was wrapped up and saturated with grief. The NIV translates it as “overwhelmed with sorrow.” The Msg. renders it, “I feel bad enough right now to die” (Mark 14:34 Msg).
The sense of the three Greek words combined is that Jesus felt totally surrounded and stuffed with grief to the point He actually did feel death pains.
Please, my reader, let yourself see the scene and feel the pain:
The Lord took “Peter, James, and John with him and began to be filled with horror and deepest distress. And he said to them, “My soul is crushed by sorrow to the point of death; stay here and watch with me” (Mark 14:33-34 TLB).
THINK ABOUT IT: Are you beginning to relate to the intense emotions of sadness, grief, and pain Jesus felt that night; pain so acute Jesus felt like He was about to die?
Jesus was indeed stressed in the Garden to the core of His humanity. Even His perspiration “was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NIV). Jesus’ anxiety level was at such a high point His blood actually oozed through His vessels to the skin; then, like sweat it dripped to the ground. The medical condition is identified by the term hematohidrosis.
No human being has ever felt what Jesus absorbed in His heart that night. But the Lord did not buckle even though the curse of all sin was now on Him.
When David fled from his son Absalom who intended to kill him and usurp his throne, Zadok the high priest wanted to take the Ark of the Covenant with them as they fled. He believed having the Ark assured David of God’s favor. King David, however, had no desire to do anything that had the appearance of manipulating the favor of God. David’s response to Zadok shows in classic form the heart of Jesus when He submitted to His Father’s will in Gethsemane:
“Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him” (2 Samuel 15:25-26).
David’s greater Son, Jesus the sinless Son of God made the same decision, “Not my will but thine be done.”
Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His grief away
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
By: James Montgomery
Dear reader, you will never be able to feel the excitement and splendor of the Lord’s resurrection if you do not also have a healthy appreciation of the price He paid for our salvation. Please do not miss this – Jesus paid the full price for our salvation, even drinking the bitter dregs of the cup of suffering, and did it without asking for a discount (Isaiah 51:17; Matthew 20:22; Mark 10:38-39).
Oh! to identify anew this Easter season with the off-the-charts pain and suffering felt by Jesus, the “man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 KJV).
Man of sorrows; what a name,
For the Son of God who came.
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah! What a Savior.
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
By: P. P. Bliss