The Travail of His Soul

Soul - Travail

Sunday 04/16/17 

Series: Doers of the Word

Message – The Travail of His Soul

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The Travail of His Soul

It’s Easter Morning!

Center stage of Easter is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

Center of the Crucifixion was two statements of our Lord.

Center of the Resurrection was our raising with Him.

In our service I passed around the bread of communion for everyone to hold onto throughout the first portion of the message. It was a way of placing everyone in immediate contact with a symbol of the body of the Lord as we studied what He took upon His body on the cross.

We later had the symbol of His blood – His soul offered for us – passed around to hold for the same reasons regarding His blood and Soul in the eraditation of our sins and the cutting of the New Covenant.

So as we continue here on this outline of our message, keep in mind the body and the blood offered in His death and the Spirit by which His body was resurrected.

What was said on the Cross

There were several statements Jesus made on the cross, two of which are center stage, but we will give a portion of time to all of them…

1st was “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  • A cry of compassion for His “would be” enemies

2nd was “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

  • An answer to a later question

3rd was Mother behold your son, son behold your mother”

  • Care and provision for His earthly mother (in the form of a person – His dear friend John)

4th was My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Was this…

  • Real? Meaning a cry out to God based upon the reality that the Father and Spirit literally forsook Him.
  • Partial? Meaning a cry out to God based upon the reality that the Father forsook Him, but the Spirit remained.
  • Imagined? Meaning that it did not really happen, but only “felt” like it happened.

A lesson within a lesson

It is a popular doctrine in the church today that the Father did not forsake Christ on the cross but that Jesus only “felt” like it was true.

Offered in support of this view is a superficial reading of Psalm 22 where, regardless of the fact that it begins with a clear affirmation of abandonment in verse 1, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from the words of My groaning?”,  it later says in verse 24, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.”

Were the words in Psalm 22:24 truly in conflict with verse 1? Of course we know it was not! So, how can they be reconciled without special pleading?

This is a lesson within a lesson!

Study is NECESSARY to understanding God’s Word. We CANNOT bring to the table bias’ and predetermined beliefs and expect to walk away with truth for truth’s sake.

The words in verse 24 are not referring an to actual hiding of the face. This was an common expression in the Hebrew scriptures having to do with God’s studied neglect of one’s cause and refusal of aid or sympathy and had nothing to do with His immediate and manifest presence. So when this was stated in the positive light of not happening, it was actually a statement which affirmed that while Christ did in fact suffer alone, it was not a permanent condition, nor was it one which was devoid of God’s compassion, sympathy or neglect of Christ’s cause. In fact, the abandonment in itself was one of the very purposes of Christ’s cause in His death as we will see in this teaching.

So for future reference, let us determine to be honest students of God’s word and consider the evidence of everything scripture might reveal to us concerning a topic before formulating a premature opinion.

To be fair to this view that Jesus was not forsaken, I thought it necessary to lay aside any assumption I had as well and approach the topic with a blank slate as it were.

So I asked myself, “Was this simply an emotional response spoken by Christ in His humanity to an event that in all reality, never really happened, or did the Father truly forsake Christ?

After all, one consideration is that Jesus was in fact FULLY HUMAN. As such His experiences, like ours, were not always consistent with reality.

You may feel something is true which is in fact not true at all!

You can, in good and clear conscience, do something that is otherwise not the right thing to do BECAUSE you believed it was the right thing to do.

For example, Jesus left His parents in a crowd while making their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They were nearly frantic looking for Him and worried about His safety. Jesus was amazed by their response to this. He asked them, “Why did you look for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Now, I am not for a moment accusing Jesus of not doing His Father’s business, nor am I suggesting that His action was sin! I am only drawing attention to His humanity.

As a human, under the authority of His parents, it would be customary for Him to seek permission to leave them offering at least an explanation of the importance of His desire to go. By doing what He did, Jesus was not in any way breaking the law nor was He acting in disobedience to His parents. This was simply a matter of human etiquette. It is of singificant importance that such an event was never mentioned again of Christ.

One has to wonder why it was mentioned at all. I believe it was in order to show His heart even at a young age and to show just how truly human Christ really was!

Also, as a human you can desire something that is not right. This is not the same as desiring sinful things as outlined in the Law, but things which are not correct or expedient for you.

Jesus had a desire to not have to go through the experience of the cross for multiple reasons. While this was not wrong or sinful, in His unique case it was not a desire which was “right” either in that it was not consistent with God’s will. In other words, it was a human desire but one which Jesus willingly submitted to His Father!

So with all of these evidences of His humanity offered in scripture, is it possible that Christ, in His humanity, simply responded out of a “feeling” of  separation from God when He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Is it even really possible for Christ and the Father to be separated?

Is there a way in which the Spirit Who was Christ – the Living Word could be separated from God as human and yet not separated as a Spiritual Being Who was still God?

Some of these questions are too lofty and may be beyond the scope of our ability to investigate…but we do have some clues which can lend us aid…both superficial evidence and scriptural.

Superficial Evidence

I have to say that Christ was not sweating great drops of blood and repeatedly going to the Father petitioning for another way, if all He were facing was physical death.

Too many people have faced deaths as horrible as crucifixion with more nobility and bravery than this displayed… so I refuse to believe it was simply “death” or even this “method of death” He wished to avoid – even a death as horrendous as that of the cross.

Something moved Christ in the deepest, inner fibers of His being to resist this inevitibility. I believe it had to do with separation – distance from His Father. I do not believe these pleads were the result of what He knew would be merely imagined separation. No, it had to be either partial or True separation to evoke such a request from Christ Who knew this was why He came to earth in the first place. He knew His Father well enough to know that if there had been another, less cruel way – His Father of Love would surely have Chosen it!

Finally under this section of “superficial evidence”, is the fact that Jesus was in full command of His faculties on the cross. As He had previously said, “No man takes My life, I have the power to lay it down and to power to take it up again.”  We read in Mark that Pilate was astonished that Christ was already dead after only 6 hours on the cross.

For many it was at least a day sometimes several before they died. But Jesus, by the Spirit, was in control of when He released His Spirit in physical death. So it was in full control of His mental faculties that He said, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” and as I have said before, if He were not…then He was not in control of His mental faculties when He proclaimed “It is Finished” and THAT is of paramount importance! 

One last point that gives us some insight is that here, is the only place Christ called His Father “GOD” as would an ordinary human throughout His time on the cross. He did not say, “Papa – where are You? Or Father, I “feel” alone?” He said, My God My God – WHY HAVE You forsaken Me? That really is quite a different thing indeed!

Scriptural evidence

Isa. 53 gives us a lot of insight as to what happened on the cross but of particular interest to us are verses 5, 10 & 11. We will bullet point the “points” and then circle back around and address them in light of this question.

Verse (5)

  • But He was wounded for our transgressions,  (pierced for our rebellion)
  • He was bruised for our iniquities
    • We know our guilt was laid upon Christ since Hebrews tells us His sacrifice was able to take away the GUILT of sin as well as the sin itself – Heb. 9:9,14
    • The punishment that goes with this deliberate act as a consequence is indicated by this word also in this context.
    • crushed for our conscious wrong doing
    • iniquity here can also indicate the guilt that results from the act of sin.
  • The chastisement for our peace was upon Him.
  • and by His stripes we are healed.

Verse (10)

  • Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him
  • He has put Him to grief; When You make His soul an offering for sin
    • The word grief here can mean either sick in body or sick in soul as in lovesick.

Verse (11)

  • Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied
  • by His knowledge shall the righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous,
  • and He shall bear their iniquities. (to be laden down with and carry or bear the guilt and punishment for sin.)

This is what He saw in the garden and this is what provoked the prayer and drops of blood in the garden and His cry out to God on the cross!

Question – what was the punishment for my guilt, shame and sin? Separation from God Who is my life –  Matt. 7:23; Eph. 4:18!

If He truly bore this, then it is hard to contemplate Him doing so while still in perfect union and intercorse with the Father – because that is not only inconsistent with my punishment for sin – it is in fact the complete OPPOSITE of my punishment.

As to my other question, was it possible for Christ to be separated in soul and body but not in spirit? I do not know, but I suspect that it is possible. For mankind to die we died spirit, soul and body…but the scriptures only specifically say Jesus died physically and poured out His SOUL an offering for sin. So is it at least possible? I believe it may be.

But it is was out of anguish of soul that Christ cried! For there – if nowhere else, He experienced true separation from His Father! Which is most likely WHY He cried….I THIRST!

5th was “I thirst”

  • A fulfillment of prophecy in Ps. 22:15, but a declaration of inner truth.

6th was “It is Finished”

  • Tatalisti – It is completed – the intended goal has been achieved in perfection.

7th was “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit” – Psalm 31:5

  • This proves that His condition of abandonment was not permanent but was in fact over before He actually died – and in this way the words of Ps. 22:24 very much apply, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.”

So this is what it means that His body was broken for me!

The resurrection is limited in meaning to how much I understand of how His body was broken for me!

1Cor. 11:23-24,

“(23) For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;  (24)  and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Then He took the cup…

We have read that it was not just His body broken but His SOUL poured out!

This is used interchangeably with His blood because Leviticus tells us that the soul of the flesh is in the blood.

Let’s read it,

Lev. 17:11,

“(11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”

The word life is the word nephesh as is the word “soul” later in the verse.

This is why Isaiah said,

Verse (10)

  • Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him
  • He has put Him to grief; When You make His soul an offering for sin
    • The word grief here can mean either sick in body or sick in soul as in lovesick.

Verse (11)

  • Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied
  • and he shall bear their iniquities. (to be laden down with and carry or bear the guilt and punishment for sin.)

So as you take the cup, know it is the new covenant in His blood and do it in remembrance of Him – what He did…

  • He poured out His life – to the point of blood both on the cross and in the garden
  • He was crushed in soul
  • He was separated from the Father
  • He bore the entirety of all humanities sins in a moment
  • His soul existed under that crushing weight and it felt the distance, shame and separation from God all of mankind from Adam to the very last human on earth has experienced ONLY He did it from the perspective of One Who KNEW what true intimacy was – he had KNOWN UNION with the Father from eternity past. This was entirely new to Him! It was more horrible than the cross could ever have been.
  • He bore the shame of separation that I may NEVER be separated!

Drink in remembrance of Him!

We will close where we began

Center stage of Easter is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

Center of the Crucifixion was two statements of our Lord.

Center of the Resurrection was our raising with Him.

What does it mean that I rose with Him?

How does it apply to being a doer….to desire…. to going beyond the veil?

  • Romans 6:4-14
  • Col. 3:1-17
  • Phil. 3:1-21

We will pick up here next weekBlessings! 


I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!