Holy Saturday: The Trauma of The Cross

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Read Isaiah 53:3-6

3He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsa that weighed him down.And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

The Trauma of The Cross

Trauma is defined as “any negative life event that occurs in a position of relative helplessness,”(1) or “any event or situation that changes your vision of yourself and your place in the world in a negative way”(2).

I remember the call… I can feel the emotion even now. I was 14 years old. The caller told my parents that my older brother had been critically burned in a forest fire in Colorado. I adored my brother. He was being airlifted to a burn trauma center in New Mexico. Four other firefighters died at his side on the mountain and his fate was very uncertain. We were on the other side of the country in New York… helpless. The thought of losing my brother, his suffering, our inability to help – it was overwhelming. My world had been shaken.

Imagine that first Saturday after the crucifixion. Jesus lies dead in a sealed tomb. You saw your beloved friend horrifically murdered. You thought he was the answer, and now he’s gone. Confusingly, it was the religious men who hated him and demanded crucifixion. Now the city is in turmoil and you fear for your life.  Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 6.07.23 PM

The Roman Guard is on high alert and tension fills the air. Jewish religious leaders are crazed, having called for the release of a notorious prisoner named  Barabbas, not Jesus (Mt.27:17). They are frantic, trying to make sense of the damage to the veil of the temple which was torn from top to bottom. At the same time, Jerusalem is filled with fear, having experienced an earthquake the night before. Some are grappling with their role and wondering if they just killed the Son of God (Matthew 27:51-54). The world is literally and physically shaking.

That day, the trauma of the cross was overwhelming. The unfinished, unresolved, horrific loss leaves our minds and bodies in a frozen state of broken, defensive anxiety. Our souls long for healing and wholeness. The most precious intimate relationship ever has been destroyed – or so we think.

Sitting with the tension of unresolved pain is hard, it always is. There is hope that the resolution will come tomorrow, that joy will come in the morning. It was promised long ago (Gen 3:15) and promised by Jesus (John 14-17). But for today, we must sit with our pain and trust in His presence.


Father, be with us in the tension and in the traumas of life, big and small. Help us to learn from our pain and meet us in it. Hold us, heal us. We look forward to the joy of the coming morning and lifeeverlasting. Amen.


(1) Dr. Robert Scaer, author of The Trauma Spectrum; (2) Judy Crane, author of The Trauma Heart.