When the curtain goes up this time, we are all ushered on stage. We find ourselves pushed in a human crush down the narrow twisting back streets of Jerusalem.
Soldiers everywhere watch from windows and doorways. The crowd surges past us. Shouts. Raised fists. Parents carrying children. Others carrying scaffolding. Centurions push us forcefully into a doorway, almost knocking us down, blocking our view.
The unruly crowd eventually dwindles and passes. We follow. The skies darken. Huge colonnades of clouds gather on the horizon as the crowd clusters on a barren knoll just outside the city gates.
It’s difficult to see what’s happening from back here. It looks as if they are beginning a construction project on the knoll. Beams and timbers – workmen and soldiers. A small group of women, heads covered, quickly press past us, making their way to the small dark hill.
As one huge beam is lifted upright, silhouetted against the blackening sky, the chattering and movement abruptly stop. All eyes are fixed on the hilltop.
Everything is in frozen frame for what seems like forever. The only motion is that of the encroaching clouds. The biting wind whips our legs. We stand as one person, transfixed in uncomprehending silence.
Suddenly and anguished voice rises above the hilltop and throng. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then all is dark and silent.
Godforsakenness, torturous suffering, humiliating death. He has taken the bitter cup and drunk it down to the dregs. There was no holding back. Jesus has tasted it all.
Jesus knows the overwhelming sense of abandonment that a five-year-old child is experiencing on a garbage dump in Manila. He knows the despair of a farmer in Chad watching his family slowly die of malnutrition. He knows the hopelessness of a college student in Chicogo who learns his recently discovered malignancy is terminal. Jesus has experienced it all.
And the Creator and Author of this story, through the abandonment, suffering, and death of the Son, has tasted it all too. Our God is not untouched by our infirmities; God in Christ experienced them all. And as the Creator God enters fully into our stories, God experiences anew our suffering, pain, and sense of abandonment. (Tom Sine, Live It Up)