When Jesus fell exhausted while carrying the cross to Golgotha, none among his disciples offered to shoulder the cross in his place. Neither did anyone from among the chosen people of Israel. Rather it was Simon of Cyrene, a Gentile, who shouldered the cross and participated in Jesus’ tribulation. For this reason, Christianity flourished among the Gentiles, not the Jews…
How must Jesus have felt when he looked at Simon of Cyrene? His disciples, with whom he had shared all his joys and sorrows, had all disappeared, leaving this Gentile to suffer on his behalf. Jesus must have felt deeply embarrassed and sorrowful.
If any man among the twelve disciples had stood up to shoulder the cross in his place, then by looking at him, Jesus could have forgotten the hardships of death. He would have overcome his own agony by feeling compassion for his disciple. When this did not happen, Jesus felt even greater sorrow. (2:275, June 16, 1957)
Although the Roman soldiers nailed him to a cross and pierced him with a spear, Jesus asked God’s forgiveness for them. He endured his pain with the attitude, “I am dying on their behalf. I am willing to be sacrificed on their behalf.” From that moment a new realm opened; a new world was born that had never before existed in history.
Before Jesus’ time the rule was to take revenge on your enemy, based on the law, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” No one before Jesus had ever taught that we should love our enemies. Jesus demonstrated something totally new to the world when he loved his enemies on the cross. This was something amazingly great. From that single event sprouted a new era, a new world of God’s desire. (130:232-33, January 29, 1984)
Can you fathom the agony in God’s heart when Jesus was dying on the cross? Here, the children of the enemy were killing His only begotten Son, and yet God could not treat them as enemies. Can you imagine how difficult it was for God to swallow His pain and maintain a loving heart towards them? Jesus understood God’s painful situation; he knew that God had to maintain unconditional love even for the enemy Satan; therefore he loved the enemy soldiers who were killing him and prayed that God would forgive their sin.
Because Jesus passed this test, Satan could be separated. Because Jesus kept God’s tradition of unconditional love even for Satan, Satan had no grounds to accuse either Jesus or God. This was the condition to make a division between good and evil, to lift up Christianity beyond Satan’s grasp.
God’s providence can progress only on the condition of loving Satan and the individuals and families under Satan’s dominion. Even in the place of death, we should love and pray for them, as God does. Otherwise there can be no restoration. For this reason, Christian martyrs throughout the world have followed Jesus’ example and prayed for their persecutors, “Heavenly Father, please save them.”
This goes back to the principle that Satan was originally an archangel, who was to receive love from God, Adam and Eve. Although he fell to become Satan, we should not change our love for him. By following this principle, we can be fully restored and be qualified to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (244:154-55, February 1, 1993)
Why did Jesus appeal to Heaven, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27.46) The first human beings abandoned God, and Jesus had the mission to restore their betrayal through indemnity. That is why God forsook him.
Nevertheless, although abandoned, Jesus kept a grateful heart. He prayed, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matt. 26.39) Because Jesus wanted to become one with God and digest death and whatever hardships confronted him, no enemy could dominate him. Because Jesus did not change even in death, even when God and humankind turned their backs on him, he opened the door to resurrection.
Likewise, even if God were to turn away from you, you must be determined to cling to the Father and attend Him to the end. That is the only way you enter the blessed realm of resurrection that Jesus Christ opened for us. (4:144-45, March 30, 1958)