The week before Easter, for most pastors and Christians, is a week of meditating upon the cross of Jesus Christ. Our next three church services will be focused on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. There is not a topic more sobering.
This week, I hope you will consider deeply what Jesus suffered for you. Isaiah prophesied, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4) It’s impossible for our minds to comprehend the depths of Jesus’ suffering.
I believe Jesus entered into the entire spectrum of human suffering and experienced it to it’s fullest expression. In other words, in terms of suffering, if it can be experienced, He experienced it. Not only did He experience it, but He endured it, beat it, and will one day banish it for eternity—all for me and you! “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
If you’re suffering, Jesus knows how you feel. Here’s just a glimpse of the kinds of human suffering Jesus endured and conquered:
Betrayal—Judas, His disciple and personal friend, conspired to turn Him over to the religious leaders to be killed.
Misunderstanding—in spite of all of Jesus’ efforts to prepare his disciples for what was to come, and in spite of all the prophecies related to Him; the disciples did not understand what was to come.
Loneliness in desperation—as Jesus was experiencing an exceeding agony of soul, the disciples slept a stone’s throw away. No other human being was there to share in those dark moments.
Emotional agony—agony and sorrow gripped Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. His soul was so heavy that it nearly killed Him.
Terror and horror—Jesus was overwhelmed—the Bible says “sore amazed” by the weight of sin and the coming wrath and rejection of His Heavenly Father.
Physical agony—So intense was his physical distress in the garden, that he sweat drops of blood and an angel was necessary to minister to Him.
Illegal arrest and conspiracy—Political powers hated Him, conspired against Him, arrested Him, and unjustly imprisoned Him.
False accusation—the high priests arranged for false witnesses to lie against Him.
Injustice—From Annas to Caiaphas to Pilate and Herod, and back to Pilate—He endured one injustice after another.
Denial and desertion—In the garden, the disciples fled in fear. A short time later, Peter denied Him vehemently.
Mockery—In multiple instances, religious leaders, and Roman soldiers scorned and spit on him.
Repeated Torture—Through the night, he was tortured multiple times—in one case, blindfolded and beaten on the face; in another, a crown of thorns driven into his brow.
Disbelief—Accusers dared him to prophesy who hit him, denying His deity. His very creation screamed in His face and despised His love.
Blasphemy—Hour after hour he was blasphemed to his face repeatedly.
Interrogation—Through the long hours of night and early morning Jesus was hammered with intimidation tactics.
Exploitation—Herod wanted to see him personally that he might be entertained by His power. He was disappointed when Jesus was silent before him.
Derision—Herod’s soldiers adorned Him in a robe, and later Pilate’s soldiers placed purple robe upon his bloodied body and mocked Him. They saw Him as pathetic and weak.
Scourging—Pilate turned Him over to soldiers to be lashed and slashed with a Roman cat-of-nine-tails—leaving Him badly lacerated and in horrific pain.
Rejection—When Pilate offered to release the Creator and Messiah of Israel, the Jews chose rather a convicted murderer, Barabbas.
Crown of thorns—Long thorns were brutally driven between his skin and his skull, and his head was beaten with a reed. The pain would have been indescribable.
Extreme weakness—As the crucifixion approached, Jesus was so weak and beaten that another man was required to carry His cross to Calvary.
Public humiliation—Jesus was stripped and scourged; then clothed in purple, mocked, and beaten; then stripped again and dressed in his own garment; and finally stripped for crucifixion.
Intense physical Pain—As the soldiers tried to give Jesus “gall” (a narcotic to dull the pain) he refused to take it—willfully exposing Himself to the full pain of the crucifixion.
Crucifixion—It has the same root as our word “excruciating.” It was the way the most powerful empire in the world dealt out their most extreme form of suffering and death.
Spiritual separation—The physical suffering pales in comparison to the full cup of God’s wrath upon sin that Jesus endured. He became sin for us.
Loss of Experience of God’s Love—He was rejected and separated from a perfect union enjoyed eternally with His Father. He was forsaken by the one with Whom He had only experienced perfect love.
He suffered that you wouldn’t have to. He died so you could live. He became sin that you might become righteous in Him. He lowered Himself to death that He might redeem you to eternal life.
What LOVE Jesus has for us! You were the joy—your were the prize that compelled Him to endure. How valuable you are to Jesus! How significant you are to His heart! How delighted is He to call you His child!
Let it sink in this week. There is no higher motivation to follow Him! The love of Jesus on the cross is the most compelling reason to become His disciple—fully devoted in faith, fully trusting in obedience, and fully surrendered in service.
However you suffer this week—consider Jesus in His suffering. His strength will become yours. His courage will flow from you. His love will hold you together, even if everything else falls apart!