On Good Friday, Jesus is crucified. He is taken from the Garden of Gethsemane, put before Pontius Pilate, and sentenced to death on the cross between two thieves. He dies on the cross.
Jesus died for our sins. He suffered for hours on the cross and was tortured in order for all of our sins to be forgiven. A lot of time and energy, across centuries and cultures, has gone into depicting the physical pain that Jesus experienced on the cross. There are more versions of Christ on the cross in paintings and drawings and sculptures and icons than almost any other subject. Depictions of Christ’s pain are much more common than that of His resurrection – people recognize His suffering as important. The focus of Good Friday seems to fall onto one of two things: the physical suffering that Jesus went through, or the reason why he was crucified at all – to forgive our sins.
But I think that we need to give more attention to Christ’s mental suffering on the cross. After hanging on the cross for hours, He cried out to the Lord, saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (NIV, Matthew 27:46). Jesus went through mental anguish while He was tortured on the cross. Even though He knew He was going to die that night, Jesus still wanted God to get Him out of the situation. He was whipped. He was stabbed. He was suffering. His pain was real and thus, so was His sacrifice. He reached a point where He was in so much physical and mental pain that He called out to His Father to see why God had not rescued Him yet.
Christ felt abandoned by the Lord, by His Father, in His time of greatest need. And sometimes I also feel like I have been abandoned by the Lord. When something goes wrong in my life, especially when it’s something that I have been praying about, it can be easy to feel like God has abandoned me. But He has not. Just like the Lord had a plan for Jesus, He has a plan for us. Even though Jesus died, He was resurrected on the third day and His death allowed for the remission of all of our sins. God did not abandon Him, He simply had a larger plan that involved all of humanity, not just Jesus. In the same way, when I am going through a tough time and I cannot feel the Lord’s presence, I try to remind myself that He has a plan and even if my struggles will not immediately disappear, that does not mean that God has forsaken me. But He is looking out for me, just as He watched over Jesus. And He has already given us the greatest gift of all – forgiveness of all our sins.
So this Good Friday, I invite you to sit with me and think of all the little ways that God has blessed your life. And the next time I am suffering and feel like the Lord has abandoned me, I will try to recall my list and thank the Lord for every little way that He has blessed me. Because God has not abandoned me, just like He did not abandon Christ. The Lord is watching over us. God has not forsaken us this Good Friday or any other day – but just like Jesus, we have to wait for His plan.
Anne Ruperto is a sophomore in Adams House studying Physics and the Classics