WORDS ON PAPER

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May 15, 2018 by James Lindquist

Most believers and probably quite a few nonbelievers have either read about or heard of the account of Jesus Christ as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and His walk down the Via Dolorosa on His way to the Cross,

v3 . . .how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3 KJV]

No movie, book, conversation, or even the Bible for that matter [1] could even come close to depicting the physical and emotional pain that Christ suffered on the Via Dolorosa on His way to and on the Cross. Not even Mel Gibson, with his fantastic movie “The Passion of the Christ,” could illustrate the actual damage done to His human body. Christ came to redeem us and die for us, and this is how we repaid Him.

The suffering and actual events leading to the Cross was about to begin, and it all started in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden is the place of decisions.

Christ knew that it was His death that gave life to His disciples and all the generations that would follow Him, so with a heart full of agony and with anguish in His soul, He began to pray John 17 in the Garden of Gethsemane [2]. As a man, He knew that He’d feel everything. Christ was about to die a horrible and excruciating death on the Cross, and what do we find Him doing? We find Him praying to the Father for all of His disciples. Wow!

Of course, I don’t know, but I’m guessing that Christ probably didn’t feel much like praying that evening because of His thoughts concerning the upcoming events in His own life. (Remember, Christ was not only fully God, but He was fully man as well.) Although it would be His last prayer for all of His followers, present and future, Christ prayed the prayer of unity to the Father.

As He laid prone on His face in the Garden, Christ’s human body was starting to react to the circumstances of stress, anxiety, hematohidrosis, and pain. The time was getting close to what He was about to experience. However, Christ stayed focused for He needed to die to purchase His Bride with His own Blood. The Father gave Christ life so that He could come to Earth and die, so that He could give us life. It was full circle. As Christ prayed at the foot of Mount of Olives, it set the stage for the beginning of Christ’s journey down the Via Dolorosa.

No way does the sentence “Christ died for our sins. . .” do any justice to what actually happened to Christ. Nor does it depict the severity of what He endured for you and for me, not to speak of all the humiliation, rejection, and psychological disappointment that He must have suffered just to redeem us, a corrupt people [3]. My question is, how can we learn of the magnitude and level of Christ’s love for us by merely reading in the Bible that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures [4]?

While researching my next book about Christ’s walk down the Via Dolorosa, I ran across a doctor’s medical account of the physiological and emotional pain that Christ actually suffered on the way to, and on the Cross. The doctor’s account of what Christ went through during His ordeal, and how His body suffered is in stark contrast to the benign words that we read on paper in the Bible. My personal fellowship with Christ exponentially grew when I read what the doctor wrote describing what my Savior did for me in not only Gethsemane, but the Via Dolorosa [5], and on the Cross.

We must remember that Christ was not only fully God, but He was also fully man. He felt every agonizing blow, cut, whip, nail, and brutal act perpetrated against His person. The Bible says that, “. . .He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. . .[6].” According to the doctor, strands of meat hung from His back and you could see bone, sinew, and muscle. With every step He took, the Cross bar dug deeper into His back, ripping further into His back, and scraped an already heavily damaged body.

There weren’t too many places on His body that wasn’t soaked in Blood. He was dangerously dehydrated due to His blood lose, and was no doubt dizzy and disoriented also due to the Blood lose. His body was swollen from the beatings and blood spilled into His eyes from the crown of thorns. At this point, Christ was actually near death, and yet this is only a smidgen of the physiological damage done to Christ [7].

Don’t get me wrong, even reading those weak words about that selfless act is unfathomable to me, and I DO thank Him every day for His sacrificial death. Nevertheless, how many of us, me included, have just read those words on paper, thanked Him, and went about our daily business while we continued eating our ice cream and flipping channels?

In terms of Christ’s ordeal, how can any of us really understand what we are supposed to feel, learn, and obey if those words seem like they are just that, words on paper. A prime example is the narrative concerning the road that Christ walked while carrying His Cross-bar. Over the years, I have personally minimized those events. Oh, I’ve read the words alright many, many times, but only as words on paper in the Bible. Then I thanked Him in my spirit for doing that for me, and then I went about my day. I feel ashamed for taking Him for granted and for not studying about His ordeal on the way to the Cross and His terrible death on the tree. He did it for me, James Warren and for you. . .

Why haven’t I ever talked to Christ while praying concerning His trip down the Via Dolorosa and the Cross? There are so many questions, like, “Why did you do it Lord? Wasn’t there any other way to redeem us? We are so unworthy Lord. Why didn’t you call on your 12 legions of angels? You could have eliminated a great multitude of evil that day. How come your Word doesn’t declare the actual damage done to you on the way to the Cross? How can I ever thank you enough?” Yes, there are so many questions.

What Christ went through actually had severe consequences and were devastating to His human body, and definitely were not just WORDS ON PAPER. After Gethsemane, they ripped His body to shreds and shoved a crown of thorns deep into His scalp. Many people did not survive the flogging that Christ endured. They pounded 7” spikes into His wrists and ankles, and made Him carry His Cross bar on a flesh bare back.

How many of us have actually contemplated or maybe even studied what He went through just to redeem us. How many of us, myself included, just skimmed over those words “Christ died for our sins” and hurried to the next verse(s) because we had so many verses to read for our daily Scripture reading and quiet time? I’m ashamed to admit that I have done so, for which I profusely apologize Lord. We are such a corrupt people that we are the ones who should die for you. I try hard to die for you daily Lord but I fail. Please forgive me Lord.

Lord, a simple “Thank you” just doesn’t seem adequate to express my (our) gratitude Lord. It doesn’t even come close to an appropriate response, given the amount of suffering you gladly endured [8] for me and all of us. The amazing thing is you did it while I was yet a sinner [9]. I am in awe of you Lord. To the best of my ability, you have my devotion, love, and service. Christ is a gift to humanity from God the Father. Receive Him, love Him, follow Him, and devote yourself to Him, for He first loves you [10].

v16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
v17 God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. [John 3:16-17 KJV]
_____________________________________

[1] I know, because I’ve read it a number of times (from cover to cover).
[2] Luke 22:44 Christ was under tremendous stress whereas He sweat great drops of Blood. This is an actual condition where, under stress, the sweat glands bleed through the skin. The medical term is hematohidrosis, also known as, hematidrosis, and hemidrosis, or just plain blood sweat.
[3] Jeremiah 17:9
[4] 1 Corinthians 15:3b
[5] The Way of Grief
[6] Isaiah 53:7b
[7] You’ll have to wait for my book, coming next year.
[8] Hebrews 12:2
[9] Romans 5:8
[10] 1 John 4:19

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