Home> The Lower Lights> March 2004

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  Alan Jones, Editor

  (734) 942-7956

 

 

 

"Brightly beams our Father's mercy

From the lighthouse evermore;

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the light along the shore."

       Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box 86-233, Westland, MI  48186     

Volume 3                                                                         March 2004                                                                                 No9 

 

WHY DID JESUS SUFFER?

 

Mel Gibson in his movie, “The Passion of the Christ” has drawn great attention to the suffering of Jesus.  The movie very graphically depicts the extreme pain that Jesus endured in the last hours of his life.  But, it is very doubtful that any man or group of men could ever fully portray the suffering of Jesus.  John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, wrote a poem on Jesus’ birth.  He started to write a companion poem on the death of Jesus, but finally gave up, saying only, “This subject the author finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.”  Can any poem, song, book, or movie truly capture the N.T. story of Jesus’ death on the cross?

            Yet, while we grasp for words and pictures to portray the extent of Jesus’ suffering, the reasons for it are clearly revealed in the N.T.  And, these reasons are what make the horror of the pain that He went through so meaningful:

1) Jesus suffered to fulfill O.T. prophecy and to prove that He is the Christ.  The O.T. prophets struggled in vain to understand the predictions about the coming “Christ” or “King” the Holy Spirit revealed to them. (1 Pet 1:10-11).  Prophets, such as Isaiah, predicted that the Christ would suffer and then be glorified (see Isaiah 53).  The meaning of these predictions was not clear until after Jesus died on the cross and arose from His suffering.  Jesus then explained that what He went through was necessary to fulfill the O.T. Scriptures, to give men reason to believe that He indeed is the King that has the authority to rule men’s  lives  (Lk 24:25-27; 44-46).   This  message

 

became the central theme of preaching designed to convert men to Jesus (see Acts 2:22-36; 17:1-4).

2) Jesus suffered to learn obedience.  It was the will of God to perfect Jesus through suffering (Heb 2:10).  Just prior to His final pain-filled hours, Jesus, while sweating as it were great drops of blood (Lk 22:44), and crying loudly with tears (Heb 5:7) begged His Father to let the cup of agony He was about to drink pass from Him.  Yet, He said, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Mt 26:39,42).  The grueling pain and the humiliating shame of the cross was the supreme test of Jesus’ obedience to the Father.  He willingly drank the cup of suffering, and, in doing so, learned to the fullest extent the meaning of “obedience”.

3) Jesus suffered to become the author of man’s salvation and to bring him to glory (Heb 2:10).  He had to leave heaven and take on flesh and blood to suffer in man’s place, the just for the unjust, to bring man to God (Heb 2:14; 1 Pet 3:17-18).  Jesus had to bear man’s sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet 2:21-24).  Man could not regain God’s favor through money (1 Pet 1:18) or through animal sacrifices (Heb 10:1-4).  Sin was (and is) such an offense to God, that God Himself had to pay the price, through His Son.  Only Jesus’ blood could “propitiate” God, that is, meet His demand for justice (Rom 3:23-26) and cool His wrath (Rom 5:9), saving man from hell.  Because Jesus suffered, man’s sins can be forgiven, he can be reconciled to God now, and he can live with Jesus, beyond the grave, forever in heaven  (Heb 10:5-18; 2 Cor 5:17-21; 1 Thess 5:9).

 

HOW HAVE YOU RESPONDED TO JESUS' SUFFERING?

In answering the question, “Why did Jesus suffer?” on the front page, I gave a few good reasons to consider, but still did not answer, “Why would He allow men to scourge His back into a bloody mess?  “Why would He permit men to put a crown of thorns onto His head, slap Him, spit on Him, and joke about Him being a king?”  Why would He let men drive nails through His hands and His feet into a wooden cross and then let them plant it into the ground and wait for Him to suffer the slow, excruciating death reserved for criminals?”   In one word, the answer is, “Love”.  The apostle John put it this way; “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us.” (1 Jn 3:16). 

            The question of why Jesus suffered so much is also answered by John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  How can we even begin to comprehend the Father’s love for man?!!   How could He give His Son, even for the sins of those who scourged Him, who spit upon Him, and who drove the nails into His hands?  How could any father bear to see their son so abused?  Truly, how much He wanted to keep man from perishing in hell!  How much He desired that man instead would become His child and live forever in heaven with Him!

            Have you made the proper response to Jesus’ suffering, to the love of the Father and the Son?  John wrote, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us…

 

We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:16, 19)  Paul said, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Cor 5:14-15)

In his song, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, Isaac Watts said so well what your response (and the response of all men) should be to Jesus’ suffering:   

“Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small;        Love so amazing, so divine,          Demands my soul, my life, my all.” 

 

            If you haven’t already responded to the love of God and His Son, Jesus, won’t you deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him? (Lk 9:23)  If you believe in Jesus, you can become His disciple by confessing Him as Lord (Rom 10:9-10) and repenting of your sins and being baptized (Acts 2:38).  When you are immersed in water, you will bury your old man of sin and you will rise to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4), a life dedicated to giving your all to Jesus, the One who died and rose again on your behalf.

If we can help you  to make the proper  re-sponse to  Jesus’ suffering,  please  call write,  or email us at our website!

 


 

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