Friday, 19 September 2014
Mark 15: Passionate Love
While I don’t remember much — make that anything — about my own birth, the births of my three children are still vivid to me.
After forty-one weeks of heartburn and swollen ankles, I woke up just in time to keep the gush of water from soaking our bed. “Honey! It’s time!!” We stumbled to the car, grabbing my bag, his snacks, the car keys. He didn’t take off the parking brake until we were halfway down the street.
At first the pains were bearable. That’s because nothing was actually happening. Eight hours later the doctor decided I needed some help. The pitocin began dripping and within minutes I was punched by a contraction that built into a massive wave of pain, cresting into a moment of relief and then overtaken by the next one, building bigger and faster. The rest of the day was a blur of gasping, panting, groaning. I was submerged in the pain.
Many people had tried to prepare me for that day, but the words I remembered were these: It hurts, but it accomplishes something. That’s what makes it different. That’s why they call it labor.
The final stage was the hardest work. Everything in me pushed. With a final cry Rachel was born.
This past week we’ve been remembering Jesus’ death for us. Mark 15 has brought our attention to the details of his condemnation, rejection, suffering, and anguish. His being forsaken by the Father. His final cry.
Why spend time thinking about his sufferings?
Is it to make us feel bad for our sins? See what he had to go through for you. Now don’t you go causing him any more trouble! Don’t you think he’s done enough for you?
Is it to make us appropriately grateful? Look what it cost him. He was condemned so you could go free, rejected so you could be welcomed, abandoned so you could be loved. The least you could do is be grateful!
Or is it to see and hear, firsthand, the most passionate love in the universe?
Once they placed my first born child in my arms, I forgot everything else. I wasn’t aware that my legs were still trembling and jerking. I wasn’t worried about how to take care of this helpless bundle. I hadn’t begun to fret about her tantrums or her grades or her love life. I was transported into joy.
Jesus had prepared his disciples for this day right before they parted the night before. He had described himself as a woman in labor.
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21
How do we know these words weren’t meant to describe the disciples, the ones to whom he spoke these words? Their anguish at the cross would also be replaced by joy at the resurrection. But Jesus wasn’t describing their joy, he was describing his own. He was drafting off the words of Isaiah 53.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied… Isaiah 53:11
The word “anguish,” also translated “travail” was the word used to also used for a woman in labor. The word “satisfaction” is rich with the meaning of utter joy, nothing missing, complete contentment and happiness.
He was submerged in pain on the cross. He endured the labor that was required–condemnation, rejection, abandonment–until the final cry when he pushed out his spirit.
Then you and I were placed in his arms.
He no longer remembers his suffering, because joy has replaced it. We remember it, because it shows us his love like nothing else.
See Jesus. Hear the good news of his passionate love for you and me.