“I would like some morphine, please”. The dentist laughed, oblivious to the seriousness of my request. I managed to talk him into a few extra shots to the mouth and kickin’ up the dial on the laughing gas (which, by the way, has yet to make me laugh). He had no idea the lengths I would go to in order to avoid pain.
Years of drugs and alcohol and constant running, all in my endless pursuit to numb what is, in my opinion, the worst kind of pain. I buried my heart and then built an impenetrable wall around it to keep emotional pain at bay. It worked pretty well, until God pointed out that while I couldn’t feel pain, I also couldn’t feel anything else, including love. Especially His love. So began the difficult journey of dismantling my wall and digging up my heart, of learning to let pain in, and then bringing it to God for healing. It sounds simple on paper, but in real life it was…a painful process.
But this post really isn’t just about me and my pain.
“And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him…They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” Mark 15:20-23
Wine mixed with myrrh was a painkiller. Matthew says they offered him wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:34). My study notes state that “Tradition says that the women of Jerusalem customarily furnished this pain-killing narcotic to prisoners who were crucified.”
“Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally “out of crucifying”), gruesome, humiliating, and public…” (Wikipedia)
Jesus was given the chance to avoid, or at least lessen, the pain of His crucifixion, but He refused. He was fully awake and fully aware of what He was enduring. For you. For me. He refused to spare Himself even one moment of the pain and humiliation of dying for us.
We speak of His death on the cross, and what it means to us, to the world. But today, I am considering the dying that He did. The pain He took for me. The humiliation He paid for me. The hours He spent suspended between me and His Father, feeling every ounce of what separated us.
And then something hits my heart.
Jesus endured the scourging, the whips that tore His flesh, the crown of thorns upon His head, the great wounding of His body. He intentionally felt the nails pounded into His flesh, the burning with each breath He tried to take as He hung in mid-air. On purpose, He went through the torturous death of asphixiation, with nothing to make it less difficult, less painful. And along with the physical pain ravaging His body, He endured the emotional pain of separation from His Father. The separation that came from my sin being heaped upon Him, causing Him to cry out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me!”
As I consider His dying, I am left weeping. Weeping and remembering. Remembering my own frailty and the great lengths to which I have gone to numb my pain.
Weeping, as I realize that Jesus went to great lengths to feel my pain.