Growing up in a Christian home, school, and church, I heard all about the cross. The cross and Christ’s death is what Easter is all about, not the bunny. I heard that Christ was beaten, whipped, and crucified in my place. At the time, in Rome, crucifixion was the worst possible death a person could experience. Christ took 39 cat-of-nine-tail lashings, a crown of thorns, numerous beatings, three nails, and was left to hang on a cross until dead. In short, that is what Christ did for you, that is what Christ did for me.
As terrible as this sounds, Christ’s process of death is not what impresses me most. True, I am speechless at the thought that every beating and drop of blood was for me to go to heaven. I cannot imagine why the innocent Son of God would die in the name of love for me. What impresses me is worse than the physical pain He endured… My Jesus bore all of my guilt. Not only my guilt, but your guilt, and every human’s guilt, all at the same time.
Can you even imagine that? As Jesus hung on the cross, waiting for his lungs to collapse, He was taking all of the guilt of the world. I cannot handle my own guilt. The sins I’ve committed make me hang my head in shame. I physically feel them tear out my heart, and yet Jesus bore my awful sins first. Dealing with my own sins physically wears on me, as I know others can relate. Guilt takes a terrible tole on the human body. Depression, anxiety, and even suicide are all symptoms of guilt.
Another thought perplexes me… He bore my guilt so I do not have to. He bore your guilt so you do not have to carry around that pain anymore. The guilt from that abortion… yes, Jesus felt that so you do not have to. The guilt from adultery, yes that was His too. Murder? Jesus felt like He murdered. That immoral, dirty feeling? Yes, that was nailed to the cross with three nails too. Can you understand that Jesus felt like He had cheated on His wife, that He had broken His mothers heart, that He hit someone while driving drunk, that He had messed up his life so badly?
The story does not end with Him simply dying with the guilt and sin. No, perfect Jesus had so much sin in His life that Almighty God turned His back on Him (Mk 15:34). Not only was Christ bearing physical pain, exuberant spiritual pain, but He was also alone. During this episode, Jesus Christ loosed the chains and power of hell, and with a loud cry exclaimed, “IT IS FINISHED!” (Jn 19:30). He had succeeded. He bore the sin of the world, and thus satisfied the requirement of God the Father to accept poor humans like you and me into heaven. Three days later, He returned to tell about His victory. His message has not been stopped since that day over 2000 years ago. He gave us freedom from guilt in this world and a perfect eternity with Him. That is why I believe that Christ bore more than death for me. I wonder if He would say that the easiest part of the crucifixion was the physical death.