“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:2-3
Prophecy: The Messiah would be forsaken and pierced, with lots cast for his clothing.
When my son, Jack, was just two years old, he stepped onto a piece of iron that had been baking in the hot Texas sun and suffered excruciating third-degree burns on the bottoms of his feet. He was in tremendous physical pain, and his mother and I hurt deeply for him. One of the most difficult aspects of that experience for me was having to help with his burn care and treatment. I vividly remember how the nurse cut away the skin on his feet and cleaned the raw tissue while I held his body down and his feet still. My eyes filled with tears as he screamed, “Daddy, please stop! Daddy, please don’t do this!” Just the sense that there was a temporary separation between father and son was heartbreaking.
Though you can likely imagine the hurt of that moment, you will also recognize that our experience can hardly be compared to the anguish Jesus Christ experienced on the cross that caused Him to cry to His Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
On this Good Friday, we remember that Jesus endured brutality, mockery, immense physical pain, and even death on the cross. He also experienced an unexplainable, incomprehensible sense of separation from God the Father. In that moment, God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus’s cry of anguish on the cross reflects the depth of the pain He experienced. As R.T. France noted, it was the mental and spiritual torment of this sense of separation that Jesus most dreaded as He appealed to His Father beforehand in Gethsemane.
My son Jack did not understand or know beforehand why he had to undergo such pain. But Jesus did. Indeed, long before crucifixion had even been introduced as a means of execution, Jesus knew well what awaited Him. In fact, many details of Christ’s death had been prophesied in Scripture a thousand years earlier. In Psalm 22, the psalmist foretold that soldiers would cast lots for Christ’s clothing and that onlookers would mock and ridicule Him. Psalm 22:1 even reflects the very words Jesus would call out to His Father as He atoned for our sins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
We know now why Jesus Christ died—He died for us. But why might God have shared with us the words that Jesus would cry in agony from the cross a thousand years before His death? One reason is that God wants you to know that Jesus knew . . .
Jesus knew your need. The plan of salvation began in eternity past, before God laid the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Before He formed you in your mother’s womb, all the days of your life had been established (Psalm 139:13–15). He knew how far short you would fall and how desperately you would need a Savior.
Jesus knew the cost. Jesus knew what He would suffer. He knew the pain and death that awaited Him. He knew the sense of separation, forsakenness, and abandonment He would endure. Yet, He willingly sacrificed His life for you (John 10:18; 1 John 3:16).
You see, even though Jesus knew in advance all of your weaknesses, mistakes, and failures, and even though He knew the torturous pain and anguish that He would undergo on the cross, He chose to do it anyway—out of His immense love for you.
Of course, there was something else that Jesus knew . . . Jesus knew the end. The author of Hebrews tells us it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2). This joy was in anticipation of the victory Christ would win as He conquered sin and death—the victory that will culminate in His coming reign over all the earth. The connection between Christ’s crucifixion and victory can also be seen in Psalm 22, which ends in anticipation of the day that Jesus will rule over the nations and all will bow before Him. (Psalm 22:29). Through His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, Christ redeemed for Himself a people who will worship Him and reign with Him in his Kingdom forever (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 22:3–5).
Jesus loves you. He knew your need. He knew the cost. And He endured the cross because He knew the end and wants you to be with Him forever and ever. Praise God!
Questions for Thought
- Why is it appropriate to call today “Good Friday”?
- Since Christ sacrificed His life for you, how can you live your life as a spiritual sacrifice to Him?
Read Psalm 22 and Matthew 27. Then, spend some time in prayer. Praise God and thank Him that Christ willingly endured the cross to redeem and save you!
Ben serves by leading and overseeing the ministries and operations of First Baptist Dallas as the Executive Pastor. He has served in full-time ministry for more than a decade and is passionate about building the church of Jesus Christ and equipping the saints for the work of ministry. Ben earned a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University and a B.B.A. from Hardin-Simmons University. He and his wife, Parris, have four boys.