By Tony Reinke
On Good Friday, Rick Gamache (senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship, Bloomington, MN) gathers with his church to read a short account he simply titled “A Crucifixion Narrative.” For 23 minutes he retraces the biblical events of Thursday and Friday that culminate in the death of the Savior.
The narrative opens with the weight of the crossbeam weighing on the shoulders of the Savior, then rewinds to previous events leading up to this point: the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the tears of blood that reveal the Savior’s physical and emotional distress. But as we know, this is only the beginning of the physical pain. Soon Jesus is tried and mocked, slapped, spit at, whipped, outfitted with a crown of thorns, and eventually laid on the ground where cold spikes are driven into his wrists and feet. The repugnant scene is informed by the biblical storyline and by research on the physical suffering of Roman crucifixion.
As the Savior is lifted up on the cross the physical pain becomes even more excruciating—but it’s not the greatest pain.
Near the end, the narrative takes a sharp and dramatic turn. There the focus shifts from the visible, physical pain to the invisible spiritual suffering Jesus bore on the cross. There in the crucifixion we see the Son, hanging guilty before God for the vilest of sins—our sins, all of them (2 Corinthians 5:21). There we face the scope of our personal sins, and there we see the hellish agony the Savior endured for us.