Christ’s Torment

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me”

(Luke 22:42)

I will be turning 75 in June. How did this happen so quickly?  My progression of aging has brought me to the conclusion that when one reaches three-quarters-of-century, the warranty runs out on the body and parts need to be repaired or replaced.  Such fun getting old.  Worse part is that I do not like pain.

No one likes physical pain. I believe that’s why when we read about Christ’s agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, we automatically assume when he cried out to the Father to “take this cup from me,” that he was addressing the physical pain and torture he was keenly aware he would have to go through on the cross.  I am sure knowing the physical agony of the cross was weighing on his mind.  Crucifixion was the most excruciating death a human being could endure.  Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, described crucifixion as “the most wretched of deaths.”  The offender was laid on the crossbeam of the cross with his arms outstretched.  A soldier would then drive a five-inch iron nail through each of his wrists into the crossbeam.  That was followed by another long nail that was driven between the bones of the feet.  The victim was then hoisted up by rope, and the crossbeam was dropped into a notch on top of the upright post.  Over a period of time, the victim’s shoulders eventually dislocated and popped out of joint, followed by the elbows and wrists.  In time the individual’s lungs would collapse, and excess fluid would fill the lining of his heart and lungs.  This would add to the slow process of asphyxiation.

There was a group of kind women in Jerusalem at the time of Christ’s death who made it their good deed to help anesthetize the people who were experiencing such a horrible death as crucifixion.  They produced a homemade pain killer.  It was a first century narcotic, mingled together with wine.  It would help to alleviate the pain of execution.  Jesus was offered this anesthetic twice – once before His crucifixion and once while He was dying on the cross (Matthew 27:34,48).  Both times He turned the offer down and refused to drink it. Before he even took his first step toward Calvary, Christ made the choice to take the full brunt of pain to pay the full price for our sin.  No wonder he struggled so in the garden. 

But I also believe there was something even more painful, more anguish producing that was tormenting him as he prayed in Gethsemane.  I believe that Jesus Christ’s greatest struggle was that dramatic moment he knew was coming when he would cry out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Separation between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had never taken place in all of eternity – and never would again.  But at that precise moment when the son was taking our sins upon himself to pay the full penalty for them, the separation had to happen.  The Father had no other choice but to turn his face away from all the sin being nailed on the cross with his son.  That is what I believe gave Christ the most torment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew he would have to be separated from the Father, so that you and I could be reconciled to Him.