Saturday thoughts on Good Friday

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon his shoulders.

The cross is heavy. It wasn’t so long ago, he remembers, that he could do anything. Back when he was home, he could literally do anything. With a mere thought he created, with the slightest movement he lifted and threw, molded and destroyed. But now the cross is heavy. The whip had drained him. His muscles are torn and unresponsive. He will stumble soon, he sees it coming. When he was dispatched into the world he had been stripped. That stripping was far more depleting than the one he’d just received. He knew limits now, his body tired and hungered and was vulnerable to injury. For a time he knew that strength that resides in a young man. He learned (but had already known?) the joy of eating, of making with hands from things already created, the deep satisfaction of singing and laughing, vibrations in physical vocal cords. And now even that is being taken from him. With each step the cross grows heavier. The rugged, unwieldy cross. Made no less heavy by the knowledge that the true test, the true horror comes at the end of this journey. Even now he knows his Father sees and watches him. But what will it be like, to be unseen by the all seeing One? Take this cup from me.

We were on a punishment ruck march heading to the town where we’d be running missions the rest of the week. It was only 4.5 miles but this was the first march we’d ever done with our body armor (IBA) on, in addition to our rucks and weapons. From the beginning I could tell this was going to be bad. The IBA made it so the ruck didn’t fit correctly on my shoulders. With the M240B hanging on my ruck frame even just standing there was painful. As the march progressed I could feel my traps being crushed by the armor straps, my deltoids by the ruck straps and my arms start to fall asleep. The squeezing pressure pulling me down and back was getting more painful by the minute. After about two miles one of the LTs started vomiting, so CPT B. called a short halt so the soldier could recover and move to the front next to him. We weren’t allowed to “ruck flop” (sit down on the road resting on our rucks) so I took a knee, then another. I was in a prayer position, kneeling, with my arms and head resting on the ground, allowing my back to decompress and the ruck weight to shift so it wasn’t pulling down on my shoulders. But too soon we were up again. After maybe another mile my lower back started hurting and I could feel a hot spot on the ball of my left foot beginning to become a blister. This had never happened to me before during a ruck and it worried me. We halted again maybe half a mile short of our objective and I eagerly resumed my prayerful position, likely actually praying for equal portions of strength and relief. Shoulders, upper back, lower back, hips, calves, feet, so much pain.

I wonder what was harder. To be whipped, or to see the man who whipped you do violence. To see malice (if he was hateful) or sadness (if there was sadness) in his heart? Was it more difficult to not be believed or to see the ugliness of the people who falsely accused you? I think I may know the answer to these questions, but sinner that I am, my selfish thoughts always prioritize my own pain, my own suffering. How heavy was my sin upon your shoulders? I confess I often feel it heavy on my own, I have yet to learn to how to fully lay the burden down. Did you always feel it, from the moment you became a man? Or was most intense it as you approached the cross? Why do we call it Good Friday? Is it because that one Friday was so bad, that we can call all the rest of them Good?

 

The whole of the tremendous debt was put upon his shoulders; the whole weight of the sins of all his people was placed upon him. Once he seemed to stagger under it: “Father, if it be possible.” But again he stood upright: “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” The whole of the punishment of his people was distilled into one cup; no mortal lip might give it so much as a solitary sip. When he put it to his own lips, it was so bitter, he well nigh spurned it—”Let this cup pass from me.” But his love for his people was so strong, that he took the cup in both his hands, and

“At one tremendous draught of love
He drank damnation dry,”

for all his people. He drank it all, he endured all, he suffered all; so that now for ever there are no flames of hell for them, no racks of torment; they have no eternal woes; Christ hath suffered all they ought to have suffered, and they must, they shall go free. – Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

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~ by justinhong on April 19, 2014.

3 Responses to “Saturday thoughts on Good Friday”

  1. Thanks for sharing… It really helped me reflect on what we are really celebrating this weekend- so opposite from what the world would have you think. It’s gruesome, deep, and heavy.

    I never thought of that! Maybe Good Friday should be called something else to better represent what it stands for. You were allowed to experience something meaningful.

    Anyways, thank you for using and sharing your gifts of reflection and writing to bless souls. Your uncle would be so proud 🙂

    ❤ auntie jen

  2. Reblogged this on N8 and commented:
    I was lying awake last night thinking about this post, particularly this part: “How heavy was my sin upon your shoulders? I confess I often feel it heavy on my own, I have yet to learn to how to fully lay the burden down.”

    I saw myself holding onto my ruck, which was lying on the ground, trying to summon the strength to pick it back up again. Then Jesus came, carrying an unbelievably huge load–pain and sorrow written across his face. He looked at me with so much love in his eyes, took my ruck from me, wincing as He slung it over his shoulder, then said, “Now follow me,” and continued on His march.

  3. What a great reflection on the suffering of Christ, especially helpful as I read about it again at the end of the book of John. Thanks for sharing, and how it relates to army life!

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