This is holy week. Not because my birthday was yesterday (though I was born on Good Friday), but this week is sacred because we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I learned recently that the word excruciating was actually invented to provide an adequate description of the sufferings Jesus endured. It means “out of the cross,” and is intended to take us back to the intensity of suffering that was undergone as Jesus was beaten, impaled, and suffocated–sufferings which are depicted all too clearly in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.
I’ve had aches and pains, but I have never really suffered physically. Having learned the origins of the word excruciating, it makes me shudder to think that I may have used it to describe my own minor discomforts. Whatever injury I have suffered, it wasn’t as a result of injustice. It wasn’t a display of defaming mockery. It wasn’t fatal. And it probably wasn’t a result of love, either.
But for Him, it was.
Jesus can rightfully claim to know, to have experienced, excruciating pain.
And I can’t tell him, “I know how you must’ve felt.”
But I can say, “I’m sorry.”
And also, “Thank you.”
This week is a celebration of completion, an opportunity to approach the cross, to experience and remember through religion and ritual, to learn the meaning of the word excruciating, and then to be awed and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the news that what Jesus endured was a love-driven merciful act of grace and forgiveness, which was culminated by His resurrection victory, forever impacting our eternity.
His sufferings were once for all. Our contemplation and gratitude must never end.