I remember as if were yesterday when my mother grabbed my arm and dragged me out of a Sunday night church service. It was at Temple Baptist Church. I was six or seven years old. I had squirmed, made noises, refused to just lay down on the floor and sleep. I was in full rebellion mode and after about 30 minutes of this Mom had enough. If it were possible, steam would have been coming out of her ears.
Dragging me, Mom opened the side door in the sanctuary, pulled me through, and suddenly we were alone in the church’s hallway. The real punishment was about to begin but she “hid” it from the congregation. Oh, they could hear it but their eyes were shielded by the wall of the sanctuary. That was both merciful and even more painful, for this punishment was personal, from Mom to me. And, oh yes, I deserved it and so much more than she applied.
She was so angry she could hardly look at me. There was no “last nerve”; that was gone. Much in the past had been building up around my behavior and now I’d hit the tipping point. If not for her mercy, her wrath would have left me wounded in spirit as well as in body. No, neither of those occurred, although she spoke some unvarnished truths and I got my butt smacked, nothing worse occurred. Still, she got through to me and I never behaved that way in church again and I have never forgotten her anger and how I had hurt her by my actions.
Now, for a moment, let me take you back to when Father God poured His wrath out on His one and only Son, Jesus. It’s the day eternity changed for Jesus, the Son of God, never had and never would again Jesus be separated from God the Father. In all eternity this is a unique event.
Jesus is hanging, bleeding, suffering, on a cross. It is “The” cross. The wood is gone but we rarely pass through a single day without glimpsing, somewhere, sometime, a symbol of that cross. The cross of Jesus is where our salvation was bought.
The culmination of thousands of years of God’s wrath is now poured out, unrestrained, upon Jesus because He willingly took this unimaginable ordeal, pain, and punishment, as a substitution for the judgment and punishment you and I deserved.
We find a first-hand account of this the book of Matthew, chapter 27:45-46:
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
God the Father hid this punishment from people. He caused darkness to cover the land from noon until three. Just like my mom’s punishment, people could hear but the punishment was hidden. This was a very personal matter which no one should watch. It was the fulfillment of what the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, had planned in eternity past. It was a punishment that Jesus suffered beyond anything we ever could understand.
The Reformation Study Bible’s commentary says, regarding Matthew 27:46:
why have you forsaken me. Jesus’ desolate cry is a fulfillment of Ps. 22:1 showing the depth of His distress as He suffers separation from His Father. Later the apostles realized that Jesus was enduring the dreadful wrath of God’s judgment on sin. This was all the more agonizing to One whose relationship with the Father was perfect in love. The cry is Aramaic, except the Hebrew “Eli.” Mark gives the Aramaic “Eloi.”
The punishment that Jesus took upon Himself did not change Him but it did make the way by which you and I might receive forgiveness for sin. The completion of our way to salvation was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s death. Our hope for eternal life was made real through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting His time to call His own to His marriage supper.
As for me, returning back to our pew after my behavioral adjustment was embarrassing because I knew I was too old to have behaved the way I had and to have received the punishment all in the congregation knew I’d received. No, I was not scarred forever, I needed no psychological therapy, and I still love my mother though she passed away a number of years ago. What she did was good for me. What God did was good for “…there is none good but one, that is, God…’ (Mt. 19:17)
© 2018, Gary Moore
Photo by Harley Upton on Unsplash