Last Sunday our summer preaching intern, Justin Berss, spoke during our communion service. He presented a wonderful lesson on “The Suffering Savior.”
Prior to Justin’s lesson, Randy Wooten led the congregation in Tillit S. Teddlie’s classic hymn “Oh, The Depth and the Riches!” The song begins like this:
Oh the depth and the riches of God’s saving grace
Flowing down from the cross for me!
There the debt for my sins by the Savior was paid
In His suffering on Calvary!
Justin began by asking the question, “What comes to your mind when you hear the word suffering?”
We often consider Jesus’ suffering strictly from the physical pain he endured. We picture the crown of thorns painfully pressed into his scalp and see the blood oozing down around his eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
When we see his suffering on Calvary we think of the brutal beating. The senseless scourging. The nails pounded into his hands and feet as the quivering flesh reacted to their lacerating penetration.
When we think of the Savior’s suffering, we see him hanging in agony on the cross for six hours on the blackest Friday in all history. We can feel his tendons throb. His muscles twitch. His back ache. His eyes burning. His head pounding. His throat parched. His entire body suffering the excruciating torture of the cross.
But there is more. Justin correctly observed from I Peter 2:21-24 that there are four other ways Jesus suffered on Calvary.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
(1) Jesus Suffering Sinlessly.
Unlike the two thieves on either side of Jesus, He was without sin. In fact one of the robbers said to the other who railed on Jesus, “ We indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Lk. 23:41)
Think about it! Every other person executed by Rome before or after Christ, was crucified for their wrong doing. But not Jesus!
(2) Jesus Suffering Patiently.
Jesus suffered in silence. Before Herod he “uttered not a word.” His silence before his accusers was so remarkable that Pilate marveled. During the entire arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus’ words were few. And what he did say, was not in anger. He did not retaliate, revile, or threaten his tormentors.
Peter, in fact, says Jesus became our example in suffering. When we endure unjust suffering without animosity, rancor, or retribution, we emulate our Savior.
(3) Jesus Suffered Vicariously.
The word vicarious means “to take the place of another person; to act as a substitute.” Jesus took my place on the cross. And yours! “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”
Jesus took my place on the cross. He died for my sins. My anger. My envy. My lust. My greed. My pride.
(4) Jesus Suffered Redemptively.
The Prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming of a mighty Redeemer. The Holy One of Israel. The Lord of Hosts. That Redeemer was Jesus of Nazareth!
Jesus’ death on the cross was redemptive. The word “redeem” means to “buy back.” Mr Thayer says it means “to liberate by payment of a ransom.”
We have been slaves in sin. Sold into captivity. In bondage to Satan. But God wants us back. Back in a relationship with Him. Back to a place of freedom. Back where we can enjoy liberty. And the price of that redemption? Jesus! We have been bought by his blood shed on the cross.
Yes, Jesus suffered. Yet, without Sunday’s resurrection, He would have just been another Jew killed on a cross. But his suffering was more than the physical pain he endured. Jesus suffered sinlessly. Patiently. Vicariously. And redemptively.
Yes, it’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman