Mental Anguish of Jesus – More Meditations on the Lord’s Supper

A few years ago I was studying the crucifixion. I went through, in detail, and tried to reconstruct the full timeline so I could more fully appreciate all that Jesus suffered for my sin. At the same time, I was working on the coin lessons for PTP, and was digging into Herod the Great’s family tree. When I realized that Jesus was brought before the same Herod that had executed John and how hard it would be for Jesus to even see the man, much less be mocked by him, it was a light-bulb moment for me.

While it is true that the physical aspects of the cross pushed Jesus to His limits in so many ways (and beyond them such as when He could not support the weight of the cross), I think for Jesus the mental aspects of the cross may even have been worse. Not only that, I think we see clues to this line of thinking throughout the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Perhaps a look at some of these mental aspects of the cross will help you as well, as you keep the memory of what Jesus did for all of us alive each week in the Lord’s supper.

First, as we open on this line of thinking, understand where Jesus is mentally as He approaches the cross. He has just been hailed in the triumphal entry. People are expecting a change. He has overturned the money changers in the Temple. He has warned His closest followers and is now awaiting the trials in the garden, praying so deeply and with such passion that there are drops of sweat like blood.

Betrayal

One of His closest friends takes money to betray Him. Judas leads the party to capture Jesus and betrays Him with a kiss. After this, it is impressive that this group is obviously apprehensive of capturing a man of whom they have heard such stories. Jesus shows no fear as He asks them who they are looking for and He says three words “I am He” which makes the whole party step back and fall down, such was their fear, and the obvious power of Christ. (John 18:6)

His closest followers still miss the point, and Peter thinks this is the beginning of the battle. He draws his sword and cuts the ear off of one of the servants (Malchus), and I don’t think he was aiming for his ear. Jesus performs a miracle to heal the man and willingly gives Himself over. It appears that the apostles are confused, but Peter and John continue to follow Him throughout His trials. Yet, when confronted, Peter turns away from Him as well.

Insults

Keep in mind that from the first trial clear through, people are hurling insults at our Lord. He is slapped, mocked, called names, dressed up, and paraded all from people that were hypocrites and pretenders. Jesus Himself points out that Pilate was only in the position because God allows it. There was a pretender as the high priest, and a pretender King, Herod, on the throne. All occurring in a city so dear to our Lord’s heart (Luke 13:34).

Injustice

The cross is all about payment for sin. God’s justice demands that restitution be made. So it is safe to say that Justice/Fairness are big deals to God. Therefore the affront of the injustice experienced here would insult the mind of Jesus so much. The question from Pilate “What is truth?” The expectation of Herod to see Jesus perform some wonder. The Rome appointed high priest who stands in judgement of our Lord, while ignoring the law.

Personally, when I experience something that seems unfair it infuriates me. I “get my back up” as they say. Nothing makes us more angry than when we think we are being treated unfairly. Yet, here Jesus stands. He looks Herid in the eye and stands in silence. Had I been in Christ’s position, never would salvation have been more in danger than standing there before Herod and seeing that wretched individual asking for Jesus to do a trick for him.

Immodesty and His Mother and Father

Jesus has been hoisted up on the cross either naked, or practically naked. His clothes are being gambled for. It is likely that the garment in question was one made for Him by His mother. She is standing there as a witness to all of this. It is during the Passover, so many more people have come to Jerusalem. They bear witness to this beaten and naked man that has been put on display.

You may think that the embarrassment of this would not be a major factor, considering all that He has been through, but no one wants to be shamed, and least of all in front of their mother. Yet, here His few remaining friends, and His mother bear witness to this humiliation and shame.

Then, in the end, God the Father had to turn His back on Jesus as well, the only time that they have ever been separated. You can hear the anguish in His voice as we read “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

Summary

I think certainly we do well to remember and focus on the physical aspects of the cross, but we can also benefit from thinking about the mental/psychological effects that our Lord had to endure in order to make the payment for our sins. When one considers how many aspects of the death, burial, and resurrection there are, it makes me sad to think that some have abandoned the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper because they feel that it doesn’t stay fresh enough, or varied enough to observe weekly. Also, those that think it is okay to observe it on special days such as holidays, or at weddings or funerals have also missed the point. This is the greatest event in human history, and we need to commemorate it each week. We should do so with thoughtful and obedient hearts and minds.

I hope that in some way this will help keep your thoughts fresh each week as you approach the table of our Lord.

Check out my earlier post, The ABCs of the Lord’s Supper for more ideas to keep focused on our Lord.