The Loneliness of Calvary | Easter Week

There was one person carrying the cross on this day two millennia ago, and it wasn’t the Simon picked to do it in Jesus’ place. Spoiler alert: It was Jesus Christ. He carried your cross, my cross, the grumpy-guy-down-the-road’s cross. This day, Friday, commemorates the day our Savior finished His Atonement, sealing His work with His death.

Just take a minute to think about it.

His suffering didn’t end in the Garden of Gethsemane. It continued on to an unjust trial, to physical abuse, to cruel mockery, and at last to that most brutal of executions: crucifixion. The climax of this suffering occurred moments before His death:

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46

Jesus Christ was utterly alone, more alone than any of us know. I’ve heard that God the Father withdrew in order for Jesus to experience all suffering, even that of utter isolation and abandonment so that He could better serve us:

“With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were with Him,” 2009

How humbling is it that the creator of worlds, the Only Begotten of the Father, our Savior, even Jesus Christ bore even this, possibly the most painful of all His sufferings for us?

All our burdens were His burdens, so when it comes to seeking solace for your many hardships and heartbreaks, when you’re in the furnace of affliction and the conflagration seems to be swallowing you whole, know that He was also in that furnace of affliction, He also struggled and suffered. But at an infinite level that none of us can comprehend. He was alone so that none of us have to be.

Choose Joy.

—A

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