“He then began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
This was Jesus’ first announcement of his own death.
Then another time after his resurrection the Lord came to the disciples.
The Scripture tell us,
“He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures he told them, ‘This is what is written, that Christ will suffer.’”
What did Jesus suffer in his passion?
We know that he suffered in a spiritual sense.
– Because there on the cross he took our sins.
He experienced separation from the Father.
But Christ suffered more than in a spiritual sense.
He also suffered in a mental and an emotional sense.
– He sensed the betrayal of Judas.
– He knew the abandonment and loneliness when all forsook him and fled.
– He knew the denial of Peter.
– False testimony against him and his treatment as a criminal.
But he not only suffered spiritually and mentally and emotionally.
He also suffered physically.
“The passion, the suffering of Christ really begins at the nativity since Jesus always knew, saw and willed the sufferings that were awaiting his humanity.”
Then the Bible speaks of the mental trauma Jesus went through at Gethsemane.
The struggle is terrible.
The only evangelist to record that fact was a physician.
Luke, does so with the preciseness and conciseness of a good clinician.
‘Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.’
There is a book by a French physician called ‘A Doctor at Calvary’ in it he says,
‘It is a very rare occurrence, but it has been well described. It is produced in very special conditions. Great physical weakness accompanied by violent mental disturbance following on profound emotion or great dread.’
Dread and horror are here at their maximum, in the garden of Getsemane.
This is what Luke means by agony which in the Greek signifies a combination of struggle and anxiety.
And his sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground.
Why did Jesus suffer?
Why was it that He chose this?
1. So He could be of example to us.
Peter writing to the suffering church of the first century declares,
1 Peter 20-25
‘Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.’
None of us in following Christ has ever suffered to his extent.
Therefore all of our sufferings compared to his cannot compare.
2. To demonstrate the Love of God.
Romans 5:8 (NLT)
‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.’
Let no one here ever think that they are worthless to God.
(Take a $50 note, no matter what we do with that note it will always be worth that amount. Your worth is not determined by what you know or what you can do, but by what Christ paid for you!)
Our high worth has been proven by the death of the Son of God on the cross.
Why did He suffer?
3. As a judgment upon sin.
Let no one think sin is a light thing that can be disposed of through making good resolutions.
The Bible says,
‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’
Someone had to pay for our sins, they cannot just disappear!
Just as somebody has to pay for a police fine…
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Christ became our substitute:
‘Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free].’
2 Corinthians 5:21
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us that we might be come in him the righteousness of God.”
Sin brings punishment and Christ is punished for us.
Why the cross?
Because he must bear our sins.
We cannot forgive ourselves.
Only God through Christ can forgive us.
He described Himself as being given as a ransom for many.
Paul describes him as dying on behalf of our sins.
Hebrews says he was offered up for all time as one sacrifice for sin.
We are because of him, free now to approach God.
The only way to triumph over the law, which required we relate to God by our efforts and which therefore brought failure to us.
The only way He could triumph over the law, over sin, over death and over Satan is to die the victory of the cross.
The perfect obedience to God.
When we are dead in our sin and the uncircumcision of our sinful nature God made us alive with Christ.
Colossians 2:10-15 (NLT)
‘So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.’
This is why the early apostle can declare I determine to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Once we have understood what it cost Christ to die for us no sacrifice is too big to do for Him in order to show our love and gratitude from the depth of our heart!