To be rejected by men was painful, but to be rejected by His heavenly Father was the ultimate rejection. Matthew 27:45-47 describes Jesus' final moments on the cross and records His final question, " 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'"
Mark 15:23 says that Jesus was twice offered something to drink. First, He was offered wine mixed with myrrh, but He refused it. Myrrh was a painkiller that to some degree would have relieved His suffering. Apparently Jesus had set His heart to endure the agony without alleviation.
Second, in His final moments, Jesus was given sour wine or vinegar, which was bitter. This may have been intended to keep Him from losing consciousness.
By accepting this sour wine, Jesus symbolically drained the bitter cup of rejection to its dregs. No human being has ever experienced the total rejection Jesus experienced on the cross.
Jesus finally cried out a second time, yielded up His spirit to heaven and died (see Matt. 27:50). For the first time in the history of the universe, the Son of God had prayed and received no answer from the Father.
Why? Because Christ was made sin with our sinfulness, and God had to deal with Him as He deals with sin. God had to reject Him--to refuse to accept Him--and so Jesus died not from crucifixion but from a broken heart.
HOW JESUS ACTUALLY DIED
We can surmise from Psalm 69 and from the New Testament record that Jesus did not die as a result of crucifixion, although that would have killed Him ultimately, but of a broken heart.
Crucifixion usually did not cause so quick a death. Mark 15:43-45 tells us that when Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, approached Pilate for the body of Jesus, Pilate "marveled" that He already was dead.
Normally speaking, then, Jesus should not have died so quickly. The two thieves had to be put to death by the soldiers.
What broke Jesus' heart? Rejection by His Father--the ultimate rejection. He endured this in order that we might have acceptance.
Immediately upon Jesus' death, the veil in the temple was torn in two (see Matt. 27:50-51). It was suddenly and completely torn by God from top to bottom.
The veil had previously separated a holy God from sinful man. Now, torn, it was the Father's invitation to every person who believes in Jesus: "Come in. You are welcome. My Son has endured your rejection that I may offer you My acceptance."
Acceptance by the Beloved--surely this is the ultimate acceptance!
There is a great deal of wrong emphasis in contemporary presentations of the gospel, in which everything depends on what we do. It is true that we have to choose, but we would never be able to choose if God had not chosen us in the first place.
You will find you are much more secure as a Christian when you are basing your relationship with God on what He has done. God is more dependable than you and I!
ACCEPTING JESUS' WORK
Many years ago I was due to preach at a large camp meeting and was in danger of being late. Hurrying across the campground, I ran into a woman--or rather, she ran into me.
As we straightened ourselves out after the collision, she said, "Oh, Mr. Prince, I was praying that if God wanted me to speak to you, we would meet."
"Well, we've met," I said. "But I can give you just two minutes, or I'll be late for my preaching."
She began to share with me all her woes and problems, and after about two minutes I stopped her. "I can't give you any more time," I said. "But pray this prayer with me." I led this dear lady in a simple little prayer that went something like this:
"God, I thank You that You really love me, that I really am Your child, that You really are my Father, that I belong to the best family in the universe.
"I am not unwanted. I am not rejected. I am accepted. You love me, and I love You. Thank You, God."
We parted company, and I made it to my preaching assignment.