Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday: Jesus' Labor of Love


I am expecting a baby, and she could come any day now! This will be my first time experiencing childbirth, and as expected, I have some anxiety as I anticipate the event. My husband and I have taken child-birthing classes, and our desire is to have the baby without any interventions if possible. One of the things that we learned in our classes is that in order to cope with the pain, you must focus on the reward at the end. There was an acronym that I found helpful- P.A.I.N.

The "P" stands for purposeful. You are going through pain in order to accomplish an incredible task- birthing a new human being into the world!
"A" is for anticipated. You know that the pain is coming before it happens. You may not know the exact hour, but you know that this pain (which everyone claims is the most excruciating that a human can bear) WILL have to happen in order to bring your baby into the world.
"I" is for Intermittent. The pain will come and go, and there will be breaks in between so that you can bear it.
Finally, "N" is for normal. Could you imagine a baby squeezing out without there being pain? Not possible. Pain is a part of life, beginning with bringing that life into the world.

As I think about Good Friday and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, I am struck by the similarities. In the past I have always marveled at the sacrifice that God made to give up His only Son for us, as I have repeated so many times in John 3:16, but today I think about Good Friday from Jesus' perspective. He was human just like I am. He knew His mission in leaving heaven and coming to earth was to save us. But that didn't make His task easy. There was only one way for Him to finish the job ahead of Him, and that was to focus on the reward.

Jesus knew that His pain was purposeful. His pain would bring about the redemption of all mankind from sin.
It was also anticipated. He knew in advance the kind of pain, both physical and emotional, that He would have to endure in order to complete His task. In fact, the thought of the pain filled Him with so much anxiety that He even prayed to God that there would be another way, any other way, to take away the pain and still finish the job, but it was not possible. He was so distressed that His sweat came out as blood!
His pain was intermittent- he would go through several beatings, trials, and betrayals with periods of time in between before the final crucifixion.
And finally, his pain was normal. Even though He was God, He still experienced the full pain of any regular human being throughout the process. He didn't have any super-human strength or supernatural pain management. He experienced it the same way you or I would.

You see, as a pregnant woman, I am not looking forward to the pain of labor. I have plenty of doubts about my ability to accomplish the task before me. I have prayed for an easy delivery! I have asked if there is another way to bring our little girl into the world without the pain. Unfortunately, I know that there will be pain, that it will be almost more than I can bear. However, one thought will help me push through to the end- the anticipation of meeting our daughter, of holding her in my arms, of gazing into the eyes of that precious face and beginning a relationship with her in her new life! That reward will make all of the pain pale in comparison.

In the same way, when Jesus went through His excruciatingly painful death, He could have called it off at any time! He could have called in legions of angels to save Him and stop what was happening. Instead, He had one thought on His mind that allowed Him to complete His task. And that thought was ME! It was YOU! He so desired a personal relationship with us and the opportunity to bring about new life that He literally faced Hell in order to give us that chance. He was thinking of us in the moment where He reached the end of Himself and love was all that could sustain Him- love for a sinful, undeserving people. I don't know why Jesus' death had to be so painful, but the parallel as I face labor is overwhelming and incredibly humbling for me. I feel so loved! SO cherished! And so undeserving... We truly are His children, He has birthed us in His blood! And at the end of it all, He considered us a reward that made the pain pale in comparison.