“The one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

It is not often appreciated that our Lord Jesus died in terrible pain. If you run the clock back from 3 o’clock in the afternoon—the moment of his death—back to about 3 o’clock in the morning and review what had happened to Jesus as he moves through those hours—what you discover is that our Lord Jesus Christ has just been through 12 hours of torture.

Arrested in the middle of the night.
Slapped.
Pushed around.
Mocked. 
Slapped again.
Crowned with thorns that went into his scalp. 
Scourged with a larger strap studded with bits of bone and stone and metal. 
His beard ripped out.
Beaten again and again.
Nailed driven through his hands and feet.
Crucified. 

At this point a strange question comes to mind. Was Jesus a failure? You could make a good case that the answer is yes. I think you could make a decent case that Jesus was the greatest failure that the world has ever seen. Just look at his life. He was born into an unimportant family in an unimportant little village. He was ignored, he was taken for granted, he was laughed at. When he talks and when he speaks, the powers that be want nothing to do with him. He faces ridicule, opposition, and misunderstanding all his life. In the end he is crucified like a criminal. His sufferings in those last few hours are unspeakable. When he dies he appears to be yet another forgotten footnote in history. Working with the facts on one level, you could make the case that our Lord was a failure.

But his death is not the end of the story.

Are you suffering right now? Do you live in darkness? Is the way unclear, the light dim, do you feel the pain of those you love turning against you? Fear not. And do not lose heart. What is happening to you happened first to Jesus. And what happened to him may yet happen to you. Your suffering has a purpose, your pain has a reason, your darkness leads on to a brighter, better morning.

Run to the cross. Cling to it. Embrace the sufferings of Christ. Though this cannot lessen your pain, it may give you strength to carry on. Jesus suffered before you; he also suffered for you. Child of God, remember this: As Friday comes before Sunday, so the cross leads on to the empty tomb. And there is no resurrection unless there is first a crucifixion.

On this Good Friday, let’s make our prayer the final verse of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.