Yesterday as I was coming home from the dentist, the pain I had experienced when she cleansed my tooth and caused me to shed a few tears made me realize how little I know pain. I consider myself a wimp when it comes to pain.
Then I was reminded of the pain of death, not my death, but Christ's death. His death was a painful death (see Isaiah 53 below). Painful on so many levels:
Physically he was disfigured from all the beatings he took. Up to the moment of his last breath, he faced death valiantly. This was unjust, but he willingly allowed this (he could have annihilated humanity in a second - see a glimpse here) for our behalf.
Emotionally it was also painful. At the garden, he prayed that he was willing to face death and said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) Tears fell from his eyes, as if they were tears of blood. He marched to his death for us.
Spiritually, he experienced what none of us will ever or can ever experience. At the moment of death he called out: "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani" Aramaic words that in our Bible were left transliterated perhaps to show us how painful it was. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me." What happened here is speculated by many Theologians. But in Jesus's words there was a separation from the Father. Christ, the second person of the Godhead experiencing spiritual separation from God the Father.
We know that the painful death was not the end here. On the third day he rose from the dead. Death could not keep Him. His mission was accomplished.
Why did he willingly suffer so much to the point of death?
So that we can have a relationship with God. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18-NIV)
To take the punishment of our sins, rescue us (from our sins) and give us new life (to live the right way). "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:18-21-NIV)
"They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25, The Message)
Isaiah 53 gives a good description of Christ's pain and suffering:
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors - KJV