The nails weren’t the worst part.
Good Friday often causes us to reflect on the physical aspects of Christ’s crucifixion. Rightly so. The cross was a brutal instrument calculated to create the worst forms of suffering. But something more horrible lay underneath it all, too deep for visible scrutiny.
Consider these thoughts from the ministry of G. Campbell Morgan:
Now listen solemnly, and from that cross hear the cry, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” That is hell. No human being has ever been God-forsaken in this life. Man by his own act, alienated himself from God, but God never left him. He brooded over him with infinite patience and pity, and took man back to His heart at the moment of the fall, in virtue of that mystery of Calvary which lay within the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, long before its outworking in the history of the race.
What explanation can there be of this cry from the lips of Jesus? None other is needed than that declared by His herald three years before…”Behold, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!”¹ He has taken hold upon sin. He has made it His own. He has accepted the responsibility of it. He has passed to the ultimate issue. ..”Him who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”²
A man says, I do not understand that. Neither do I.
But there is a declaration, and in the hour of the cross is the fact. On that cross He was made sin…He was God-forsaken…
The uttermost depth of sorrow is lack of God. There is no sorrow like it. There is no pain comparable to it. The human heart through the infinite mercy of God has never in this life really known this uttermost reach of sorrow. There are moments in life when it would seem God has hidden His face as men pass through dark experiences, but if He had actually withdrawn Himself, the sorrow of the hiding of His face would have been as nothing, to the sorrow of the actual absence from Him.
In this hour when Jesus was made sin, and was therefore God-forsaken, He knew as none had ever known, the profundities of pain. The vision which had been His light through all the dark days in the three and thirty years, was lost. The strength of that fellowship with the Father which had been His on every rough and rugged pathway, was withdrawn. In perfect harmony with the purpose of God He passed into the place of separation from God, and in the awful cry which expresses His loneliness, there is revealed the most stupendous sorrow that has ever been witnessed through the ages.
Taken from The Crises of the Christ (Revell Company: New Jersey, 1903), pp. 298, 300.
¹ John 1:29
² 2 Cor. 5:21