I can still vividly remember coming round after abdominal surgery fifteen years ago. Despite being dosed up with morphine the pain was horrendous. Movement was impossible without adding to the pain. Being forced to stand and take a couple of steps by two physiotherapists the very next day was nothing less than torture, although I understand why they did it and kept on doing it.
Despite understanding pain within my own experience I cannot understand what it felt like for the Son of God to endure the pain of a terrible scourging, followed by being nailed to a wooden cross, and then being suspended from that cross until He could no longer breathe. I know why He did it, I just cannot get my head around what made Him do it. Is there any greater expression of love for us to aspire to than the love of Jesus?
I succumbed to the surgeon’s knife because my life was at risk due to half of my colon being diseased. The pain I suffered was necessary as the bad piece of colon had to be removed to improve the quality of my life and reduce the risk of premature death. Recovery from the surgery took several months, and I still have a twelve inch scar as evidence that radical surgery took place.
There was nothing bad in Jesus to remove. There was no need for him to suffer pain. The scars inflicted on Jesus by brutal ignorant human beings should have been their own. They should have been my scars and they should have been yours. But by Jesus doing what Jesus did He underwent the necessary and painful surgery instead of us. The surgery was so extreme that He died.
His pain changes everything. It brings new life. His death means that we can stand before God forgiven, completely whole, and without scars or any other evidence of our guilt, failure, infidelity, or anything and everything else that is defined in a single word – sin. Jesus, on the other hand, has carried our scars on His body for over 2,000 years. That is a very long time.
This Easter I am reminded of the change in those closest to Jesus as they realized just who He was and responded accordingly. They took baby steps into a new life in the first instance, aided by the Holy Spirit who acted in a similar way to my physiotherapists in the hospital. The physiotherapists were aware of the potential in me and it was their job to ensure that I achieved that potential so that I could live a full life again. That is all Jesus asks of us: That we achieve the potential He sees in us and live a full life in Him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68 NLT)