So I've been working on finishing school for the summer, and while working on a religion test I came upon the last of the essay questions asking me to "Explain how Christ was in control during His Passion." Something I never really thought about until then.
I'll begin in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ went willingly with His Apostles, knowing what was to happen there. At this point He takes upon Himself the full weight of our sins, realizing all the agony and alienation caused by sin, realizing all the horror and disgust that a perfect person would feel at sin; realizing that many people would reject Him in spite of all that He had done for them. He began sweating drops of blood. This is called Hematidrosis. It is a very rare condition which may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. At the arrest scene, Christ is in complete command; He gives himself up voluntarily, much to the amazement and consternation of those who came to arrest Him. He even heals one of them who was wounded when Simon Peter attacked with a sword and struck off his ear. He is interrogated, as His enemies hope to obtain incriminating evidence, but Jesus is in total control, not they. They learn nothing and are angry and frustrated. The first of His trials, the witnesses, most probably bribed, cannot agree, and even in a rigged court the evidence is not sufficient for the capital punishment that the Pharisees desire. So Christ Himself speaks the incriminating words: “But hereafter the Son of man shall be sitting on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69), thereby claiming equality with God. To the Jews this is blasphemy, a crime calling for the death penalty. The man who was executed by hanging or crucifixion was considered cursed by God. So the Pharisees not only wanted to kill Jesus but to see His soul cursed by God. That is why St. Paul stresses that Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Considered the most horrible death imaginable because they thought it destroyed a man’s soul as well as his body. Before the Roman court, Jesus accepts Pilate’s civil authority, but at the same time claims authority over all earthly rulers: “Thou would not have any power against me, unless it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11) He even tries to convert Pilate: “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37) However, Pilate is too skeptical to be moved: “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Jesus carries the 100-pound crossbar of the cross about a half mile. He is nailed to the cross with one nail through each wrist and a single nail through both feet. The pain would be the most excruciating known to man because the wrist nails pierced the median nerves, but Christ remains conscious, having already refused the pain killing drug offered at Calvary (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23) On the cross, He first forgives His enemies, interceding for them with His Father. (Luke 23:34) Then he canonizes the good thief, promising him eternal salvation that very day. (Luke 23:43) Christ announces, “I thirst,” (John 19:28) and is offered a vinegar-like sour wine to drink. Though a trivial seeming incident, it shows Christ’s control. One of the prophecies has said, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 68:22) Now Christ fulfills the Prophecy. He is now ready to die. He has two last phrases to utter: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46) and “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us that He “cried out with a loud voice.” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46) This cry is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s rose in His own passion and death. The normal cause of death by crucifixion was asphyxiation. When a man hung on a cross, he could not exhale. In order to expel the carbon dioxide from his lungs, he had to raise himself up on the nails in his hands and feet. Pain and exhaustion quickly weakened the victim so that he could no longer raise himself and he would die. After many hours of this, the crucified man would be so weak that he could scarcely utter a sound. However, Christ not only spoke just before he died, He uttered a loud cry. He thereby showed us that He was not dying of asphyxiation brought on by weakness and exhaustion, instead, he had chosen this precise moment for His own death.