Ten out of Ten Pain
Luke 10:27 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
If you have ever visited the doctor with an injury, you have likely encountered the one to ten pain scale. One is mild. Ten is arms being bitten off by sharks. Much to the wonder of modern medicine, it is not uncommon to encounter smiling patients, who appear to be in no distress, reporting that they are, at that very moment, experiencing ten out of ten pain, while eating cheese puffs.
I recently experienced what I imagined to be an eight. I was (for reasons that I will not go into), attempting box jumps (exactly what it sounds like). I failed to make the 30-inch jump and all my considerable weight came down on my left shin, which slammed into the corner of the wooden box. For maybe 20 seconds, I experienced what I considered to be blinding pain from what turned out to be a minor contusion.
I do not mean to trivialize Christ’s torture and death, but that blinding pain made me wonder what it would be like to know that horrific pain was coming and to choose to go through with it anyway. I am hard pressed to think of anything that would convince me to go through my episode again. Jesus, on the night before his torture and crucifixion, knew what was coming. He prayed that his agony may be avoided, but He submitted to the will of his father.
The next day, He was tortured, beaten and hung naked on a cross. It was no quick death that Christ suffered. Nails driven through hands and feet do not kill quickly. Christ suffocated slowly over the next six hours while onlookers mocked his naked torment. If the physical pain was not enough, Christ, in that moment, took on the shame, guilt, and destruction of all the world. I have crumbled under the burden of my own personal guilt. I cannot imagine the brutal anguish of that shame, multiplied by billions.
Why? That is the question I must ask myself. What could possibly have motivated Christ to voluntarily endure such torment? God designed the world and authored the laws of the universe. He surely could have manufactured some other way.
The passage above, I think, communicates the why of Christ’s profound suffering. Love. God, in his love, gave us the ability to follow him or follow self. We have all, followed ourselves to some destruction, separating us from the father. He could have made us robots, but then there would be no choice and thus, no real love. God loves us and longs for us to love him in return. To communicate this and to repair our relationship with him, He offered himself, in the form of Christ, as sacrifice for our destruction.
This is the blessed message of the gospel. God loves us and longs to save us from ourselves so that we may live in a loving relationship with him. He is the only one who can meet our deepest needs. We try to fill ourselves with all manner of instant gratification, while only God offers that which truly satisfies.
That is why Christ died naked on a cross, enduring immeasurable pain, so that we may be saved from ourselves to fall in love with the father. That is why the greatest command, our highest purpose in this life, and our only proper response to Christ’s death, is to love God with everything we are.