… Judgement and condemnation follow sin as night follows day …

 ~ Donald Grey Barnhouse

"Atlas," photo by Sabine Schulte, courtesy of iStockphoto

In James Cameron’s movie The Abyss, Lt. Hiram Coffey suffers from High Pressure Nervous Syndrome.[1] He sweats profusely. Tremors ensue. He cuts himself to numb the stress that the ocean’s great depths have on a human being.

Coffey succumbs to the constraints. He goes mad. His failure to escape the warnings of his symptoms doomed him. He’s crushed by the water’s weight in the end.

  • Jonah would’ve endured a similar strain in the belly of that fish.[2]

Listen to his desperation:

“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction…

The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;

The deep closed around me…”

~ Jonah 2:1, 5 NKJV

  • Jonah was in great distress.

The Hebrew term for affliction (tsarah) means to be in a narrow tightening, undergoing crushing pressures. It primarily indicates severe cramping and pangs.

  • Jonah’s sin followed him into the depths, compressing him on all sides.

The disobedient prophet’s life followed Barnhouse’s truth.[3] And he had to endure the vice-grip of his choices as they squeezed his body one breath at a time.

  • The high pressures of the deep exhausted him.

Excruciating headaches. Difficulty breathing. Constant bombardment from the contracting muscles of the fish’s digestive system trying to consume him. Struggling to stay alive. Not capable of sleep.

  • Jesus suffered from such a heavy burden as well.

While the disciples slept, He assumed Himself the condemnation for our sin. A troublesome darkness enveloped Him all night. In Gethsemane, Jesus conveyed the severity of His anguish:

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”

~ Matthew 26:38, NKJV

  • Jesus proclaimed that His agony was so intense that He was near death.

His words indicate His torment in Gethsemane alone was sufficient to kill Him. That’s profound if we understand that He hasn’t undergone the physical traumas of the Passion yet to come.

  • The Gospels indicate He was bearing a taxing burden – even before His arrest.

The Greek term used to describe what threatened Jesus’ life is the same from which we get periphery. What this usage means is that the sin burden He had assumed weighed on His life, from all directions.

  • Every part of Christ’s being was taxed.

Our sin’s judgment enveloped Him just as night’s darkness smothers out the light of day. He was like Atlas, bearing the world on His shoulders.

  • He had to prostrate Himself before the Lord.

He poured out His life before His Father. It squeezed the blood and water from His flesh. Great drops fell to the earth beneath Him. A world not worthy of such gifts swallowed up His sacrifice in that garden.

  • Gethsemane means oil press.

It was there the burden squeezed the oils of His body. And it was there His Passion began with a vengeance – in full force as He faced God’s vengeance on our behalf.


What burdens weigh you down? Give them to the One who bore them for you.


[1] James Cameron, The Abyss (Los Angeles: Lightstorm Entertainment, 1989).

[2] J. Shan Young, The Fish Tale of Ichthys: the Never-Ending Story of Jonah, Jesus, and the Human Epic (Orlando: Xulon Press, 2011).

[3] Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Wrath (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), 1.