The cone of shame. Pet owners – you know it well. Perhaps it was from a surgery, an infection, a wound of some kind that warranted your pet to wear one of these unsightly contraptions. They’re not only a pain for the animal, who now struggles with attempting to judge distances as they eat, drink, and navigate the corners of their surroundings, but they’re also a pain for the owner as well. Quite literally. We’re currently in the “cone of shame” days at our house and I can’t tell you how many times the back of my legs keep getting scraped by the cone as my dog keeps following me just a little too closely. But I’ll gladly take it, knowing that things could have been much different.
A few days ago, a seemingly innocent walk around the block with my dog turned into a nightmare as another dog broke loose from a 12-year-old boy’s grip while we were within just mere feet of passing. I had no time to react and pull Biscuit to safety in my arms. My little 17-pound Chihuahua mix was no match for the gray and white bulldog/pitbull mix that came at him. I tried to snatch up my baby while he was still on his leash, but it only succeeded in him flailing about and ejecting the harness from his tiny frame. I had no way to pull him towards me, unless I could reach in and grab his body, which was impossible unless I wanted to get attacked, too. I watched helplessly as the large dog tore into him, shaking him in his mouth, drops of bloods splattering the ground. The following minutes were a blur. I remember screaming. I remember trying to kick the dog and hit him with the leash. I remember other adults coming over to help. I begged them repeatedly to get their dog off of my baby. I thought, “This is it. My dog is going to die and there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it.” It was a feeling of complete helplessness. A feeling I knew all too well. A trauma I knew all too well. And it was nearly crippling. But after the other adults had finally secured the attacking dog in their grip. I snatched up Biscuit and wrapped him in my arms, blood and all and held him close. What else would I have done? Left him there for dead? Turned my back on him and walked away when he needed his mama to rescue him? Of course not! No one in their right mind would do that.
And yet, as I sat in church during Good Friday worship last night, it hit me. That’s exactly what God did to His Son.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). ~ Matthew 27:46
Let that sink in for a moment. In Jesus’ darkest hour, when He was helpless and left to die, His Father turned his back. Walked away. Abandon His own Son. Oftentimes the focus of all our attention and emotion is centered around what Jesus endured for us. And while that is significant and valuable, there is so much more to the story. Have you ever considered what the Father endured for us? How HE must have felt as He watched his only Son be brutally beaten, mocked, spat upon, tortured, crucified…. knowing that He had the full capability to stop it?
But the truth is, He wasn’t watching helplessly. He was watching willingly. Because His will was to sacrifice His Son. It was His will for Jesus to take on that cone of shame – our shame – and carry it all the way to the cross, humiliated and exposed on our behalf. It was the only way to ensure our forgiveness, our salvation, a life forever with Him without separation. And that kind of unfathomable, overwhelming, unexplainable love…it leaves me speechless.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
Friends, that kind of love didn’t end the day Jesus died. It is a love that has been in existence from the beginning of time. It is a love that has never failed us for a second of our lives. It is a love that constantly pursues us day in and day out. It is a love that will never end and never fail. It is a love that loves us in our darkest moments, our deepest sins, and our greatest victories.
Tomorrow is indeed a victory for us. Not because of anything we have achieved, but because Easter is the ultimate celebration of God’s love for us. The cone of shame is no longer. Jesus bore it, God removed it, and we are now free. We undeservedly get to share in the victory of life after death. Instead of leaving us speechless, God’s love causes us to cry out with a shout of thankfulness, “Alleluia! He is Risen!”
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory