I just experienced a wonderfully profound time of worship and prayer with my Wheaton College graduate community. Our Chapel program presented an interactive time of contemplation on the sufferings of Christ leading up to and including his painful crucifixion. It was held in the Billy Graham Center Museum and featured several venues for such meditation and prayer.
It was utterly beautiful and moving, yet it amazed me how hard it was to grasp such things. The physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual sufferings of Jesus were (and are) simply unfathomable to me. I tried to make myself more sad, but I could not; more horrified, but it didn’t work. I even thought of my own brokenness and pain, but even that had a basement floor I couldn’t dig through to the sufferings of Christ.
I often experience a similar limitation in a powerful moment of worship. It might be an overwhelming sense of God’s glory conveyed through the Word or song, but it passes through so quickly. It seems that I have not been made for too much pain or too much glory. Perhaps it is partly my personality and partly my finite inability to process the numinous, but I expect that to a certain extent you can also identify with this. Why can’t I feel these things more deeply!
However, the thing I do grasp (even though it is just as unfathomable) is the love that God revealed to me in Jesus Christ. It is because my heart responds to such love like dry ground to a spring rain. And there blossoms within me an awe for Him, as well as a desire to be generous and to help alleviate the sufferings of others. The Love of God! How do we articulate it? It is beyond words and can only be received and given out. But one hymn writer did try to describe it like this:
Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the sky of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade. To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. The love of God, how rich and pure; how measureless and strong…
On this Good Friday as you contemplate the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ on behalf of your sin, do not whip yourself with guilt if you do not feel the depth of His pain. It was unfathomable. Instead, stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love (you), a sinner condemned, unclean. How Marvelous, How Wonderful!