In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes this about the nature of God: "In Christianity, God is not a static thing . . . but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance."
Tim Keller, in his book King's Cross, expands on this idea. He writes that for all eternity, the "Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are pouring love and joy and adoration into the other, each one serving the other. . . . That's the dance."
Keller quotes theologian Cornelius Plantinga on the subject of the Trinity: "Each divine person harbors the others at the center of his being. In constant movement of overture and acceptance, each person envelops and encircles the others."
With this in mind then, it is especially moving to read Keller's description in King's Cross of what Jesus experiences in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus senses what He will face on the cross-not the physical torture and pain-but something much worse. He prays to His Father, "Take this cup from me." Keller explains that "the cup" in the Hebrew Scriptures is a metaphor "for the wrath of God on human evil." Jesus, Keller writes, "turns to the Father and all he can see before him is wrath, the abyss, the chasm, the nothingness of the cup. . . . Jesus began to experience the spiritual, cosmic, infinite disintegration that would happen when he became separated from his Father on the cross. Jesus began to experience merely a foretaste of that, and he staggered."
Imagining the physical suffering Jesus endured is painful, and these words from the Good Friday hymn Pange Lingua never fail to make me weep:
Faithful cross! above all other,
One and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be:
Sweetest wood, and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
Bend they boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor
That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heav'nly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!
The suffering Jesus endured being separated from His Father is, for me, beyond imagining.