What Really Killed Jesus

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. – Matthew 27:45-50

Wind Catching the Sails | Cabo San Lucas | August 2019

I did a bad thing today. It was unloving and not compassionate. Diane shared a personal disappointment she had experienced and I – problem-solving-cut-to-the-chase-get-it-fixed-or-don’t-complain-about-it-guy that I am – told her what she should do about her disappointment. I didn’t want to get sucked in to her despair. I didn’t want to see her suffer needlessly – especially if she was able to do something about it. So I told her what she should do.

I decidedly did not reflect the character and love of Jesus. He had compassion on the multitudes who were hassled and harried, like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Matthew 9:36). He was moved with compassion – literally, his guts churned – when he was confronted with the man with leprosy (Mark 1:41). When he stood at the tomb of Lazarus, he wept (John 11:35). Jesus’ heart went out to the widow of Nain. He was moved with pitty at the plight of the 10 lepers.

Jesus took our suffering and pain to heart – all of it. He never turned back from one in need. He never steeled himself against the pain of others. Isaiah has it this way:

“He bore our sorrows and carried our griefs” (Isaiah 53:4).

I don’t think I’m alone in having a compassion governor. There’s just so much pain and suffering I can embrace. There are just too many starving children, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, and wildfire victims for me to embrace all their pain. Why, I can’t even handle my wife’s disappointment!

Perhaps you’re better than I am. Maybe you keep embracing the world’s hurts. You listen patiently as your husband complains about his job. You nod kindly and say, “Go on,” as your friend pours our her heart to you. You are willing to embrace the hurt of others as they share their burdens. But I suspect there’s a limit with you as well. I imagine there comes a time when you just can’t embrace the pain of others. You can sing with Carly Simon and me, “I haven’t got time for the pain.”

Not Jesus. He carried our sorrows

and griefs. He held no part of his heart from others. He embraced the pain and sorrow, the disappointment and discouragement of the world.

I believe this is what killed Jesus. There is decidedly more to Jesus’ death than this, but let’s start here. Jesus’ compassion never shut down, and he embraced the heartache, the despondency, disillusionment, shame, and sorrow of the world. He took it all into his heart, and it killed him.

Jesus is our Savior from sin. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. But for now, cast your burdens on him. Allow him to hold your sorrows and griefs. He cares for you. He bore your heartaches because he loves you. It killed him, but it did not defeat him. He did not exhaust his compassion. Rest in him and has compassionate loving kindness.

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