As we approach Easter the excitement builds- Easter bunnies, colorful eggs, preparations for a special meal with friends and family, and new outfits. For many there will be a beautiful church service, amazing lilies and victorious music. And then it’s Monday. And we are on to the next thing in our life.
I wonder. Did we truly get what Easter cost? Did we take in “Good Friday” which was certainly not “good” for Jesus?
Perhaps if we began to look deeper at the cost of the cross we would experience the victory of the resurrection with fresh eyes.
My friend “Jane” has experienced surprising betrayal from her husband. Theirs was a healthy Christian family or so she thought. But it was a lie. He’d been unfaithful to her for many years in a variety of ways. She had been betrayed. He repented and entered into long-term counseling and she chose to stay in the marriage. The pain has been costly. The questions remain. Would she ever be able to trust him again? Even more, could she trust God again? She felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal on both levels.
Sharing in her pain, we have turned together to 2 of my favorite passages – Hebrews 2: 17-18 and Hebrews 4: 15-16. These passages remind us that Jesus has experienced every sort of trial, pain, grief, and temptation that we will, yet without sin. Therefore we can draw near him with confidence to help us in our times of need-when we feel betrayed by a friend, a spouse, a child, an employer.
“Oh Lord, where did you experience the pain of betrayal?”
Judas. A man he’d walked side by side with for three years. He’d loved him unconditionally and now this ugly betrayal. Peter one of his best friends, the one on whom he was to build his church denied him three times. In his hour of agony in the garden Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay with him and pray with him but instead they fell asleep. All the disciples deserted him in his moment of crisis.
Yes, Jesus knows what personal betrayal from those closest to us feels like. And these betrayals were all in one week-this week.
Then we come to Friday. Good Friday. And the most devastating betrayal of all expressed in Jesus’s own words on the cross, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” In that moment Jesus was “forsaken” by His own Father. They had never been separated in spirit before. Can you imagine the horrible agony for each of them? He descended into hell (complete separation from God) so that we might never have to. It had to happen but to Jesus it surely felt like the ultimate betrayal. For those who are in Christ, this is one betrayal that we will never experience. He did it instead. He took your place and mine.
My friend Jane realized, I can trust Jesus. He will never leave me –no matter what. He alone will never ever betray me. At the same time He understands my pain in a way no other human can. He has experienced it to a greater degree than any other human ever will.
Father, help us not to jump over Good Friday simply to get to Easter. Help us to contemplate the cost of the cross to you.
Give us eyes to see this week in a completely different and profoundly deeper way. Help us to take in the love your cross poured out.