There are times in life where we have conflicting, even opposite emotions happening at the same time. Throughout life, we face conflicting emotions with every risk, every success, and every failure. The birth of a baby is one example. It includes the pain of delivery, the anxiety of the unknown, the anticipation of this new life, the concern for their care, and the joy of your child. Death also includes conflicting emotions. We feel the pain of loss, the emptiness of the absence, thankfulness for their freedom from pain, and the joy of the promises of God.
We experience conflicting emotions when we listen to the news or when we talk to a friend. We have good days and bad days all at the same time. Different emotions release different chemicals into our body; and when we experience opposite emotions, those opposing chemicals can add to the confusion that we already feel. What do we do with these conflicting emotions? That answer can be found at the cross.
During this upcoming Lenten season, we will be looking at the emotions of Holy Week. Consider the events from that week and the range of human emotions that those following Jesus would have experienced.
The week starts with the excitement of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowd was shouting “Save Us, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The palm branches, the coats, the procession all pointed to the anticipation of a new king!
After Jesus entered Jerusalem, He went to the temple and found the money changers, the animals, and secular business taking place where worship was intended. Zeal for the house of God consumed Jesus, and in anger He overturned the money tables and with a whip drove out those who were selling items.
During the week, the disciples celebrated an intimate Passover Supper with Jesus as He humbly washed their feet. He confronted them with His upcoming betrayal, and then they went to spend a sleepless night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Imagine how overwhelmed they would have felt, hearing Jesus describe His imminent death, the despair Peter would have experienced after his denial, or the depression Judas suffered after greeting Jesus with a kiss.
The pain that Jesus endured was far beyond the physical torture they inflicted on Him. He experienced the scorn of the soldiers, the disgust and the hatred of the Jewish leaders, the humiliation of the cross, the mockery of the criminals, and being forsaken by His Father.
The crowd was conflicted. First, they chanted “Hosanna!” and then “Crucify!” Some wept, others cheered. Beneath Jesus were those who insulted Him alongside His mother and His disciple who loved Him. Even the centurion who carried out the crucifixion stated, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” Then the skies were darkened, the ground shook, the curtain tore…and then there was silence. For three days, only silence.
Oh, the confusion, the disbelief, the hope, and the ecstasy of Easter morning! How could their minds and bodies go from one extreme to the other? The crash of physiological chemicals, the mind-numbing extremes of emotion, and the longing to believe that it was all true.
Yes, the Bible speaks to our range of emotions. We experience opposing feelings in our own lives and the cross is our source of stability. It is the place where we can find peace in our turmoil.
Isaiah 53 describes these emotions and reminds us that Jesus went to the cross to bring us peace. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”