When Jesus died on the cross, he gave everything he had and suffered all that he could suffer, he did not even accept wine to dull the pain. Jesus was like a mother giving birth to salvation without an epidural. He did not die on the cross like a smiling Buddha or an ecstatic martyr. He denied himself his own grace of a peaceful death because he knew the deeper he went into the emptiness - the closer he brought divinity to the evil he was to overcome - the greater the flow of grace would be.
When Jesus says, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" he is not telling us like a grey-haired professor to refer to Psalm 22 to interpret his passion - he is referring us to the Psalm, yes, but the desolation he feels is real. The separation he feels from the Father is as real as the evil that crushes in on him. The cry of his heart is a cry that helps us to see that there is truly no pain that we feel in this life that he does not understand - even the felt abandonment of God.
Jesus died this way, suffering so much, because he could not do it any other way. In the way Jesus dies, he teaches us about himself, about Love.
Love does not love because he will receive something in return. Love does not love just enough to do the job and then hold back. Love does not love until it is too hard or too ugly to love. Love loves with everything he has, he empties himself until there is nothing left to give. Love dies for those he loves, whether it is one person or one million - the number does not change the sacrifice. I believe Jesus would have died in exactly the same way, feeling the same pain, if it had just been for you. Love cannot scale down or back away. Love does not avoid any sacrifice for his beloved - Love knows that experiencing pain is the only passageway to giving new life.
In dying on the cross Jesus opened the doors to heaven for us. The way he died shows us how to follow him to true joy on earth and ultimately to heaven. If there were another way, Jesus would have shown us. We must die to ourselves to follow our Savior. We must empty ourselves in love until the emptiness overwhelms us. We must experience the silence and despair of the tomb to experience the resurrection.
Do we think we can avoid the cross of suffering to find resurrection joy? Jesus did not, and he asks us to come and follow him.
I will follow you Jesus, wherever you ask me to, because I know that it will lead to my own joyous resurrection.