What a week that was leading up to the cross, and yet it didn’t take Jesus by surprise. In the counsels of eternity the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had planned this. When the Father had said who will go for us, Jesus had responded, “I will, send me.” He was born for this. Born to be rejected by his own creation and people, born to be turned on by the crowds of popular opinion, born to suffer, bleed an die. No man had ever been born for such a purpose or ever will. No one would ever die such a death or ever will.
Right from the start the battle was on when Herod tried to wipe him off the face of the earth. Later the enemy tore into him in the wilderness. Plots were made to kill him. Such was the enemies desire to thwart the purpose of God in Jesus. Anything but the cross. The enemy even used one of his disciples to try and throw him off course.
Everyday temptation was real, no less than yours or mine. Everyday when the enemy sought to move him away from the Father’s will he said a firm “no” to Satan, and a mighty “yes” to the Father. Everyday he learned obedience and so became the author of salvation.
There in the garden we find him one final time. This time though would be the final “yes” to the Father, but this time everything was weighing on it, the final act in God’s redemptive plan, and he felt it.
It meant confronting the enemy in a way he had never done before. It meant bearing the weight and consequence of humanities sin, something which was absolutely foreign to him, he was made sin for us. It meant going down into a death like no other, as John Owen puts it, the death of death. A death where he would bear the justice of God on our sin. It meant going down into a place where in its isolation he would cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it’s difficult to to get our heads round that, how can God be isolated from God?
In the garden he had prayed in intimate terms, “Abba, Father…” But here that intimacy is not apparant as he crys, “My God, my God…” A definite sense of isolation, forsakenness.
This is something we must not miss. Jesus, as God in the flesh, enters our very isolation in order to bring about our salvation. An isolation so terrible, so awful, that he feels something that is utterly foreign to anything he has ever known, forsakenness. This was real, something he felt in his very soul. Calvin spoke of it in terms of “the teribble torments of a condemned and lost man.” You may struggle with those words, but there is a reality to them. A scriptural reality.
He was numbered with the transgressors, as one of them. He has been made Sin, and there is no one who can help him, no man, no angel, not even the Father. He must carry out this task alone. Sin now stood between him and the Father, and he experiences the fulness of the curse and drains completely the cup of God’s wrath, the fulness of his judgment on our sin – your sin, my sin.
Such deserves our meditation, our sober reflection. Good Friday was Holy Friday, a sacred day, clothed in the sublime act of God’s redeeming love, mercy and grace, and never to be repeated.