Ever been broken-hearted?
I’m sure we all have been at some point or another.
But I’m not talking about being stuck in traffic and missing that concert you waited for all year, or finding out that your favourite pizza shack closed up out of the blue, or alas, your team never made it to the Stanley Cup. Again.
How about a gut-wrenching heart breaking?
Some of you know the feeling of your heart being nearly, irreparably, wrenched into scraps… books and blogs and statuses and therapy groups are flooded with the evidence of heartbreak.
We don’t like to see people with broken hearts and crushed hopes. We prefer to see them mended and whole.
Restored. Healed. Alive.
Never did anyone want to see all of humanity mended, like God did.
His heart broke over our decision to override His precautions in the garden, and then override every commandment and every law meant for our happiness and benefit, and our questioning of every move He made from that point on.
His heart broke at the captivity and abuse and a growing love for evil. Bad choices, bad attitudes, bad legacies like a fast spreading virus. The tide needed to turn.
But how does one mend an entire world’s eternity spun out of control?
Seeing as He’s God, He already had a plan for the Great Mending.
And I read the accounts of the crucifixion in the gospels, and it’s rife with the suffering of the perfect Son of God, procuring the greatest mending there ever was.
And the enormity of it continues to blow me away.
Man was washing our hands of Him, and He was preparing to go the extra mile in spite of us.
And so the Great Mending takes place on a hill called the Place of the Skull.
Already the stench of death sets the scene.
The tool of the Great Mending in the shape of a cross, a torturous and vile execution.
And His perfect Son, blameless, to become the payment made for all our faults, around the world, for all of time. Combine the weight of sin he’d never carried before, with the weight of gravity pressing down on each stake driven into tender, loving, flesh and you have an altogether new kind of heartbreak.
God’s heartbreak over us caused Him the heartbreak of turning His back on His Son.
Heartbreak upon heartbreak.
The Great Mending caused the most terrible suffering.
I know we think we know. How it must have looked. How it must have all went down.
Thorns crushed into the head permanently. Lashings that opened everything up. A massive trek under a massive beam. Hatred thrown at Him. Denial around Him. Betrayal in spite of Him.
Spikes, crude and pinning. Gravity pulling.
For our eternal souls return, he endured. For hours that had never ticked by so slow. Without God’s presence to see Him through.
If ever there was suffering.
I’m reading, and weeping, and I decide to look deep into that word, suffering. It would seem a certain word for suffer is always used in the gospels and New Testament when referring to Christ.
For example, Luke 24:46 which says, “And He said to them, ‘ Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day…”
This is the Greek word, pathein.
And it means to suffer, to be subjected to and experience something awful, to feel more and more worse-off.
And it is the same as our word suffer, which comes from two words in Latin, sub- from below– and ferre – meaning to bear.
This clutches at my heart this Good Friday.
Because you can’t get much lower than causing an innocent man to bear such torture. You can’t get much lower than the gates of hell imposing the whole vile execution on the holy Son of God.
And God allowing it.
This is where I often stop at the cross.
He allowed it. There was no battling it, for He knew of only one way to rescue us. To bridge the massive gap. He allowed it.
How often do I read the words in Gethsemane and marvel. Jesus asks if it’d be God’s will, to take the cup of suffering from Him. And then accepts His task.
Just like that. That wouldn’t have been easy.
But the motivation for this kind of acceptance, and this kind of sacrificial love? It too stems from the “pathein” version of suffering which verbally is tied to the Christ.
Because one of the derivations of pathein, is our word ‘sympathetic’.
I sit quietly in the early morning and I allow this fact to sink in.
Our God was sympathetic to our whole plight. It powered His unconditional and sacrificial love. And in my head I knew it, but this needs to really lodge in my heart as well.
And His Son? He accepts the role. He’d just spent 30 some years, looking into faces that seemed empty and lost. Touching those who’d been looked down on. He’d looked into eyes so haunted that it’d compel Him to reach into the supernatural over and over to heal them, to free them, to teach them, to raise up, to calm storms, to feed thousands, to remove bondages. One by one.
And it was never going to stop…. unless He stopped it.
There was never supposed to be such suffering.
So He becomes suffering’s ultimate solution.
He suffered with us.
He suffered for us.
He suffered because of us.
This would cover everything. The greatest mending of all time.
And Christ was perfect for it. Literally.
This is the kind of pathein love that goes to great lengths to bring us out of captivity.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Good Friday’s good news.
And it was good. It was the beginning of the cycle of victory.
It was the beginning of the end of death’s hold.
Maybe you’ll stand in the shadow of that cross with me.
Maybe you’ll pray alongside of me;
“Lord, Your Marvelous act, Your Great Mending, allows me now to enter into Your presence. A gift and a feat I never would have ever managed in a million years You managed in six hours one Friday on a hill, on the Cross. Because when You looked ahead, You saw the heart of man, lost and helpless, and You wanted us free.
Lord, I pray Your death and resurrection anchors my freedom daily, and that I don’t waste Your Precious gift.
I’m overwhelmed by Your Great Mending, and Your great love for me… then… and now.”
I think we can all lift eyes and hearts with an amen.
Good Friday is only the beginning. A journey to a powerful victory on our behalf when we never deserved it.
Grace, and Mercy, and Love, and Resurrection be yours this weekend, dear friends.
We can go forward from the Cross.
Holding on tight to the greatest mending there ever was.