Every child from Adam to the baby born in the middle of this sentence, has taken out a huge knife of iniquity and stabbed God in the heart with it. God has suffered at the hands of everyone who has ever sinned, which is every man and woman who has ever lived.
This all started at the dawn of time, in the paradise of the Garden, where God’s chief Creation and representative on earth bowed down and worshiped Satan before the very face of God. And just as Adam’s teeth tore into the forbidden fruit, our sins tear at the heart of God.
Our treachery separates us from the LORD. Adam’s rebellion unleashed a conflict directed at God’s throne which man has perpetuated throughout history down to the present day.
The laws and commandments of God are not a created, impersonal list of rules. The law of God is a codified description of God’s character. God is love and so love is the summation of the law. Sin isn’t committed against a code, its committed against a person. We fall short of a standard that is a Tri-personal God, not a list of impersonal rules.
The Law outlines conduct that is consistent with love. To break the law of God is to act against love. So, sin is any act or thought that is contrary to love and love is the Triune God. No sin can befall you or anyone else, without first befalling God. Every sin is first and foremost an act against love, against God Himself.
Our sin makes God our enemy. And so God has gone to war against mankind. God’s champion is a man of no reputation; a plain man, a man with mysterious and suspect origins. An uncultured, uneducated, poor, homeless vagabond who lounged about eating and drinking with prostitutes and crooks.
But this man of no reputation healed the lame and raised the dead. He spoke into the heart of people’s pain; He bound up the broken and set slaves free. God’s champion is a man who took on the suffering of others. His calling was to suffer. Jesus did not enter human history to become something. He came to reveal. To teach. To cast light into our darkened hearts. To show us who God truly is.
Jesus is the God among us who revealed in His flesh, how much our sin has cost Him and how much He is willing to suffer at our hands to win us back. Jesus’ earthly suffering did not begin at His arrest. It began at His birth; it was His profession. Christ is an artist. His life’s work was suffering and His masterpiece was the Cross. But like all great artists he performed smaller works in preparation for His masterpiece.
I am not saying that Jesus only experienced suffering and no joy while He ministered to mankind. But His vocation was suffering. His role within the Godhead was to be the King who defeated the enemies of God, which required putting to death, death. And He could only accomplish that mission by suffering and dying.
We read in scripture that Jesus’ works were full of suffering.The kind of Messiah Israel would receive was prophesied in Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” And this is precisely what we find in Jesus’ life. Jesus was well acquainted with grief.
In Matthew 2:11, one of the gifts of the Magi is myrrh, which was used to embalm dead bodies. Can you imagine receiving that as a baby gift? Congratulations on having a baby, here’s what He is going to need; embalming fluid. It would be like someone in our day giving a mother a casket as a gift at a baby shower. The trappings of death greeted Jesus at His birth. He was trained for His calling from the cradle.
In Luke 2:34-35 Simeon tells Mary “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Why? Because her boy was going to suffer. In my experience the worst kind of pain people can endure is burying their child. Jesus’ closest relationships were overshadowed by suffering.
It says in John 11:35 that when His friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” The God of heaven and earth, who transcends our understanding, wept at the death of one creature. The tragedy of death; the consequence of sin, destroys one man and the Maker of Heaven and earth is moved to tears. What kind of God is this?
As Jesus approached Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-42 it says; “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” He laments for Jerusalem again in Luke 13:34 “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! As it said in Isaiah 53, He was a man whom people turned their back on. Jesus is the physician abused by the patients He is healing. He came to gather them in like a mother hen and they hated Him for it, ridiculed Him for it and sought to kill Him for it.
Herod attempted to murder Jesus as a baby in Matthew 2:16. The Pharisees attempted to stone Him in John 10:31. Jews in a synagogue tried to throw Jesus off a cliff for preaching the Gospel in Luke 4:29. A plot to kill Jesus was begun after He brought Lazarus back to life in John 11:53.
But that is not all, Jesus was moved with compassion for people’s specific life circumstances in Luke 7:13; Mark 6:34 and 8:2; Matthew 9:36; 14:14 and 15:32. To have compassion means to feel sorrow for the circumstances of others; to make their suffering your own. What kind of God is this? Every page we turn in the gospels shows Jesus suffering in grief over the fallen state of man.
After everything Jesus had suffered in preparation for His masterpiece, He wrestled with the reality of separation from the Father. Jesus, who knew no sin, was going to become sin for us. The spotless lamb was going to take upon himself the obscene and degenerate retribution of a filthy and broken people. Jesus was going to die and experience the thing He detested to the very core of His being; the displeasure of the Father he had always loved, obeyed and glorified.
That is why Jesus bowed His head in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweat blood. Jesus was well acquainted with grief. It wasn’t just the betrayal of a friend, or the punches, blows and scourging. It wasn’t just the nails driven through His flesh and the abandonment of His friends that gave Him pause that night.
After all the suffering Jesus endured throughout His life, after the brutality of His arrest and trial, the Father poured out on Jesus His hatred for every disease, sin, pain, affliction, rape, murder, sorrow, abuse, addiction, loss, turmoil, cancer, curse, deformity, terror, molestation, indecency, indignity, shame and every other evil you can and cannot imagine.
And Jesus hung there with His arms spread wide to embrace it all. To suffer it all again, but not as the one to whom it was done, this time, as the one who did it. Jesus endured our punishment; our estrangement, our shame, our guilt, and our brokenness as sinners. The victim took upon himself the punishment of the crime and delivered us from our treachery and eternal separation from the Triune Community of Love. We made God our enemy and He defeated us with His own suffering.
Man fell and God rescued us. We caused Him to suffer and He suffered it faithfully. Life swallowed up death. The Suffering of God himself took away all the suffering we had caused Him since the Garden. So that God could do what He had always wanted to do, from the very beginning; be our God and have us for His people.
Amen and Amen
- The Suffering Servant (theologyaspoetry.wordpress.com)