Our Suffering Savior

Because Jesus is the Son of God, He knew in advance every brutal detail of His suffering and crucifixion. Each day that dawned through Easter week brought Him closer and closer to the gruesome reality.

After three years of pouring His precious time and energy into His disciples, their dense disregard for His warnings and their squabbles about who was greatest must have discouraged Him. The biggest grief came from Judas who received all the benefits of being a disciple and the loving friendship of the Son of God, yet betrayed Him for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

Once they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ heart was unbearably heavy. As He knelt to pray, He could see every slash of His 39 lashes. He knew how deeply the pricks of the crown of thorns would pierce His head. He saw it all in full color. He fell on His face, begging His Heavenly Father if there was any possible way to take away His cup of suffering. He concluded by saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” In His agony, He returned to prayer two more times concluding, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” His excruciating suffering was His loving Father’s will for Him.

Since perfect Jesus chose to suffer, who am I, a mere mortal, to complain when God allows suffering into my life? Sometimes He will remove the suffering, and even when He doesn’t, I need to relinquish it to Him. I also need to say, “Thy will be done.”

Even though He knew it would happen, the betrayal by Judas, arrest and trial must have hurt Jesus emotionally. Seeing Peter deny Him the third time must have hurt more. When He stood before the angry crowd that cried, “Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!” He felt the shame of being rejected by so many. Only Jesus knew how many in the angry crowd just 5 short days before also shouted, “Hosanna blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David!” Did He feel the double sting of their rejection?

Sometimes the horrific scourging from the soldiers was lethal. After his profuse loss of blood, He could not carry the crossbeam of His cross. Simon of Cyrene was recruited for the task. As Jesus stumbled through the crowded Via Dolorosa, women wept for Him. Jesus warned them a great grief was coming to the women of Jerusalem.

After He arrived at Calvary, the soldiers drove nails through His hands and feet to hang Him on the cross. In this position, every breath, every word would be excruciating. His first words were, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” It appears He was forgiving the guards who just hammered the nails through his hands and feet.

Later, when the thief who hung beside him defended Jesus’ innocence, Jesus assured him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Then as He looked down at his grieving widowed mother, He assured her of safety and family protection. He said, “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother,” as He also addressed John.

Four times Jesus looked beyond the wall of His intense suffering to focus on encouraging or helping others. At times of deep suffering, how quickly can I look beyond myself to help another?

Jesus also never lost sight of His mission, to pay for our sin. At the end, as His life slipped away, He proclaimed, “It is finished.” The Greek word, Tetelestai literally means “paid in full.” It is an accounting term. Because of the horrors Jesus suffered, and the blood He shed, no sin is too big to receive forgiveness. Not only did He achieve forgiveness for all His friends and disciples, but He also looked out through the centuries and saw you and me. His death is our gift. By His stripes we are healed.

“No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down. I have authority to lay it down and take it up again.” John 10:18

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