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Faith Imagined: FORSAKEN

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

March 28, 2010


I've seen movies and heard descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion. The physical torture that Jesus experienced is explained in detail, and we see each lash ripping His flesh, the excruciating walk to Golgotha, and the nails hammered into His hands and feet. Many times the pain is our sole focus, and we assume that the fear of this pain explains why Jesus petitioned God at Gethsemane to "take this cup from me." However, the physical sacrifice is only one aspect of Jesus' death on the cross. There is so much more that we many times forget to examine and meditate on.

The crucifixion is made up of three components, and physical pain is only one of them. Yes, Jesus is human, so the pain was a big part of why He said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Mark 14.34 NIV). But I do not believe that it was fear of pain that made Jesus sweat drops of blood (Luke 22.44 NIV). I know that Jesus loves me more than I can comprehend, and He would boldly confront physical persecution for my sake. I think He had a greater reason to feel anguish -- a reason that our culture has trouble even understanding.

The second aspect of the crucifixion that would cause Jesus to be overwhelmed with sorrow is that He became sin for us: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5.21 NIV). Please note that Jesus became sin. He was sin for us. What is sin? Sin is the absence of God. Sin is the absence of light, love, beauty, glory, etc. The best way I can illustrate this concept is to take the innocence of a newborn baby and force that innocence to experience every disgusting, revolting, hideous sin you can think of. Try to imagine the innocence of those you love (especially your own children) and your mind will shut down. Your heart can not process the anguish.

The third aspect of the crucifixion ties directly into the second. This was the "more" that I was looking for. It took a while for me to comprehend, which demonstrates just how much I do not know about love. Several months ago, I was reading through the New Testament, and I was struck by the relationship between God and Jesus. They are so deeply rooted together, and I wanted to know how it felt. I prayed and asked God, "Show me how much Jesus loves You."

After I prayed that prayer, I read about Jesus praying to God in Gethsemane. His soul was in anguish, and God sent Jesus an angel to comfort Him. As I read about Jesus just minutes before He would be betrayed, I remembered how I had always been dissatisfied with explanations of the crucifixion. Yes, the physical pain Jesus endured was incomprehensible, but I know that there was another pain that I wasn't understanding. Finally, it hit me. If Jesus became sin, and God can have no part of sin, then God would have to disconnect from Jesus for a time.

Jesus loved God so much, and His entire existence was solely dependent on God; therefore, Jesus' biggest fear was to be forsaken by God. I believe Jesus feared this more than the physical pain and more than becoming sin. When Jesus cried out on the cross with His only complaint, He did not cry out, "My God, My God, this pain hurts so bad" or "My God, My God this sin is so revolting." No, Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" (Mark 15.34 NIV).

Nothing else mattered more to Jesus than the presence of God. That is how much Jesus loved God, and this showed me how much I do not. As I meditated on this, I became overwhelmed with anguish. God has been a sidenote, a ball I juggle in my busy schedule. Yes, He has also been a Father, a Friend, a Savior, a Healer, a Teacher, a Guide, an Encourager, yet He has never been my core. How do I know this? Because I constantly struggle with forsaking Him.

I forsake God for sleep, for my own desires, for my spouse, for my children, for my career, for the opinions of others, for security, for money, for prestige, for acclaim, for comfort, for pleasures, etc. I daily struggle with forsaking God, and I have no fear of it. Yes, I feel guilty and I repent when I know I've purposely walked away from His will, but do I fear? No.

I know that God loves me no matter what, and I'm happy to say that I have forgiveness of my sins through Jesus. However, I want God to be my core. I want Him to be my everything. I think that is why Jesus says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14.26 NIV).

Jesus does not actually want us hating people or ourselves. Research the Scriptures, and you'll see that Jesus tells us over and over again to love others. However, our love for God should be so immense and so deep that our love for anything else should be comparatively weak. Would we be willing to give up all that we have for God? Jesus did.

When Jesus asked God to "take this cup from me," I do not believe He was talking about the physical pain or even becoming sin. Jesus' prayer before His crucifixion is the only time I see that Jesus took a step of obedience that He did not willingly want to take. God asked Jesus to give up the one thing that Jesus loved the most so that humankind could have everlasting life with Him: Jesus gave up God. Jesus became sin, and God can not have any part of sin. If this weren't true, then our sins are not really forgiven. If Jesus did not take our sins upon Himself, they are still on us. If they are still on us, God can not allow us into His glory.

If I could just understand Jesus' step of obedience, His sacrifice for me, I think I could have a glimpse of how much Jesus loved God. I love Jesus so much because He took this step of faith for God, even if He didn't want to. I love God so much because He "so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3.16 NIV). That God chose to weave me into this Divine Romance between Father and Son boggles my mind. I want to love them both back with a love deserving of their love for me. I know that my love will pale in comparison, but God beautifully makes up the difference with His grace!

Jesus is my hero because of His complete obedience to God. Many times God asks me to do things that I don't want to do, but I do them out of obedience. However, I can trust that God will never ask me to do it alone -- God will never forsake me (Hebrews 13.5) and Jesus is always praying on my behalf (Romans 8.34). The words that Jesus whispered before becoming my Living Sacrifice have become my new life's prayer: "yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22.42 NIV).

"For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you" (Isaiah 54.7 NASB).

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Blogger 3 Blessings said...

I absolutely see what you saw and felt after your prayer for God to show you how much Jesus loved Him. This is a beautiful post Alisa that so accurately reveals HIS love. Thank you my friend.
May you and your family be blessed this Easter week.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Crissy said...

Awesome post! I love how you broke this don't to make it easy to understand. I also love this line, "That God chose to weave me into this Divine Romance between Father and Son boggles my mind." I will me meditating on this through the Easter holiday!

10:03 AM  
OpenID journeywriter said...

Very good post!

"Because I constantly struggle with forsaking Him."

I love the way you described Jesus' relationship with the Father, it helps me understand how my relationship with the Father should be.


10:37 AM  
Blogger Joan said...

This is an incredible post. Our current sermon series at church is on the book of John and I often marvel and the conversations Jesus had with His father - He was so connected to God and wanted to please Him more than anything.

I pray that I am that I become that connected to God. I am a work in progress, but I desire to know Him more and more.

Your post really helps me to understand that relationship.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

Oh, Alisa - how awesome was this post.

My husband and talked yesterday about how we tend to "pretty up" the cross when in fact it was a bloody, painful, agonizing place for Christ.

You had so much in here that just jumped out and spoke to me.

Thank you for your obedience to Him in bringing us what he lays on your heart.


10:54 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Wow! Great post! I cannot imagine how Jesus felt by having to have the weight of the sin on Him and God not being able to even look on Him. Yet I am so glad that we have salvation full and free, if we only accept it, because of what Jesus did on the cross.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

I want to love them both back with a love deserving of their love for me. I know that my love will pale in comparison, but God beautifully makes up the difference with His grace..

amen amen amen..

I sat here and read and oh sweet sister, how my heart was so touched, ministered, encouraged, humbled and sharpened..


12:52 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. I have such a hard time truly comprehending what Christ really went through for me. I don't think I'll ever really be able to get it ... I just know I am forever grateful...

1:09 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you. I think it's important that we understand the love of God within the Trinity and why it was such a great sacrifice that Jesus gave Himself for us.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Amen...I want God to be my core, too...unfathomable love....

6:30 PM  
Blogger Kristen Torres-Toro said...

That part always gets me... Just the relational pain of the crucifixion. He endured so much for us.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Sonia said...

Thank you for sharing this.

It is humbling to know the King of kings gave His life for me.

It is also awesome to feel Him and His love in my life.

9:40 AM  
Blogger OceanDreams said...

Jesus is my hero too, what a beautiful reflective post for Easter time. We are truly blessed.

5:46 PM  
OpenID bluecottonmemory said...

So eye-opening - that it wasn't pain that Jesus wanted avoid, but being separated from God. Let's make this an equation. Jesus understood that by being in the presence of God, He could withstand anything.

Separated from that presence, not only the pain would be unbearable, but He would be isolated from God. As sin, he would "feel" shame, frustration, unbearable burden because God would be unable to reach out and help Him. He would be more alone than ever before. And it wouldn't just be His burden, it would be the WORLD'S burden. Carrying my burdens is hard enough. Carrying the world's burden and charges of sin I cannot imagine the pressure on my heart.

He had to keep His eye on the ball, the plan, the goal He had set with Father. He went to the cross by Faith for us. He endured for Faith.

I always knew Jesus died for my sins. However, you opened my eyes today to the separation from the father during His most horrific challenge. Yet Jesus remained faithful to His father!

Powerful post Alissa!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Alissa, this is such an awesomely powerful post.
I felt this deep into my heart and soul. You cannot imagine the depth that this post seeps into me.
Thank you.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

So wonderful to read this and reflect on what this Holy Week is really all about.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Cherie said...

This is a great way to start a weekend of celebration! Thank you!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Shelli (srjohannes) said...

wow that was powerful...thanks :)

7:54 PM  
Blogger myletterstoemily said...


you are so right, that it would
have been devastating for Jesus
to anticipate separation from
His Father.

good word!

9:06 PM  
Blogger Bridget said...

What a powerful post and what a gift you have for putting perspective on Christ's crucifixion.

Thank you so much for coming by to visit my blog today!

9:35 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

This was a wonderful post, Alisa!!

10:15 PM  
Blogger Goose Hill Farm said...

Hi, Alisa~

Thank you for stopping by today for a visit. It's so wonderful to meet you!

To think how much my precious Savior loves me....that He would lay down His life for me is mind boggling, to say the least.

I love this scripture passage: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, (going beyond, beyond, beyond what we can fathom) according to the power that worketh in us." Ephesians 3:20


10:25 PM  
Blogger Randi Troxell said...

thank you.. thank you for this..

it brought so much into focus for me.. b/c i too simply ALWAYS focused on how HORRIBLE the pain was.. and nothing else..

this made me realize...

10:35 PM  
Blogger Saleslady371 said...

I, too, am so grateful for the grace to love God back. I could never do it alone...great point!

Thank you for visiting me today!
Happy Easter,

11:05 PM  
Blogger christy rose said...

Wow! This is a powerful post! So much truth revealed in such a way that I have seen a greater depth of what Jesus actually accomplished on the cross for me!

I stopped by to thank you for visiting my place today and also wanted to let you know that you are the winner of my 200th post giveaway. If you will respond to this comment and leave me your address in my e-mail, i will get your gift sent out to you right away. It was great meeting you and blessing you today. Isn't that great that both of those things go together so well. Meeting and blessing, meeting and blessing. :) I hope you have a great week!

11:43 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

awesome post....It's hard to really imagine what all He has reaally done for me....what I do know is somehow...and I don't know how...He freed me. All I know is He touched my Jewish heart and broke through the anger, the fear, the shame. And I don't know how. All I know is I am totally grateful b/c nothing else worked. Happy Easter Alsia. Sarah

5:16 AM  
Blogger Melinda said...

Beautiful and convicting post, Alisa! I have been guilty lately of squeezing Him in my busy life. Especially during Easter week, that seems so selfish and wrong. I want Him to feel my love for Him and give Him the time and attention He wants from me. So glad I stopped by today!

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Jesus is my hero too!

Appreciate your explanation of the 3 components of the crucifixion.

3:51 PM  
Blogger AnooCre8ion said...

Alisa, thank you for stopping by my blog. This is such a powerful post. So much of it reflects my heart. Thank you for putting it so beautifully.


2:07 AM  
Blogger Joyce Marie said...

Thank you for stopping by and visiting me. Thanks for like my blog daughter was the inspiration...from the time she was tiny she has always brought me a huge bouquet of bright yellow dandelions...and she is seventeen and she still does :)

May you have a lovely Easter,
Joyce Marie

9:33 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Can I just say "Whoa"...yeah, this was definitely an eye-opening post to cause us to reflect on Jesus and his true purpose. There are times when I 'feel' like God is not there, even though he is...but Jesus KNEW that God wasn't there when he became sin for us. What a dreadful feeling...but yet he endured it all for us.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said...

Wow - what thoughtful words for this Good Friday. So often we thank Jesus for dying for our sins, but don't always delve into what all it meant for Him or for us. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for stopping by my blog & commenting.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Tea With Tiffany said...

Stopping in to wish you a beautiful Easter. He is risen!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Niecy said...

Hello Alisa,
I'm Niecy. Thank You for the sweet comment you left on my blog.
I just read your blog and I'm completely blown away. This is how I've been feeling for some time. I just haven't put it into words. Thank You so much for taking the time out to share this with all of us. Jesus is my hero and I praise his name today, tomorrow, and for always.
Have a Blessed Good Friday,
Holy Saturday and
Blessed Easter/Resurrection Day.
In Christ Love,

12:33 AM  
Blogger One Heart said...

Great post. Very good explanation of what truly grieved Him at Getsemani--separation from the Father and the weight of the world's sin. I don't think our finite minds can truly understand no matter how we try.

Stopped by to wish you a beautiful Easter. Many blessings to you and your loved ones.

12:33 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

I've never forgotten what my counselor told me about what He went through...the beatings...the humiliation....and He was innocent. Realizing that helped me to stop hurting myself. I am so grateful for His love, His obedience to suffer so we don't have to. Happy Easter Alisa....Sarah

4:42 PM  

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