The Suffering Messiah

c. 1632

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by Melissa Main

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the durst of death.
Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me; they have pierced my hands and feet.
I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Psalm 22:14-18

These words in Psalm 22 prophesied Jesus’ crucifixion, one of the cruelest executions known to man. His physical anguish included the nailing of his hands and feet, a crown of thorns on his head, and stripes on his back from the scourging. The beatings he endured were so brutal that he could no longer be recognized.

His physical suffering was compounded by the heartache he experienced due to the taunts and jeers that came from the very mouths of the people he came to save. Just listen to the angry voices in the crowd at his crucifixion: “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:42-43).

Why did Jesus suffer such a painful death? The answer is twofold. First and foremost, he died to pay the penalty for our sins. The way of salvation was made possible through Christ’s death on the cross.

Second, he became human so that he could empathize with us and know our hurts. He has experienced all the difficulties and pain we face every day. Because Jesus Christ became a man, it is easier to turn to him with our problems.

John R. Stott, in The Cross of Christ, spoke these words that have deeply touched my heart:

“I could never myself believe [or trust] in God, if it were not for the cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it. I have [looked] to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering” (p. 335-336).

Let me illustrate how the cross of Christ affects the question marks in our lives regarding suffering through the following scenarios:

Dear God, my husband has abandoned me. Are you there, or have you abandoned me too?

Yes, I am here whispers Jesus. On the cross I was deserted by my dearest friends. I know the pain of feeling forsaken, and I will stand beside you during this difficult time. I will be your friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Dear God, people laugh at me. Every day I hear their scorn. Do you know how it feels to be the object of ridicule?

Yes, whispers Jesus. I was scorned by the very people I came to save. I know your hurt, but remember that I love you. Give your burdens and cares to me. I will bear them and give you grace to endure.

Dear God, I lost everything that I owned. I am penniless. Everything has been taken from me. Do you know how I feel?

Yes, whisper Jesus. I left streets of gold and wealth untold when I came to earth. I was penniless on the cross. My own clothes were taken from me. Soldiers even gambled for my coat. You may have lost your riches here on earth, but you can lay up riches in heaven where they can not be destroyed.

Dear God, my body cries out in pain. An incurable disease ravages every fiber of my being. Do you know what it feels like to be in excruciating pain and facing death?

Yes, whispers Jesus. My hands and feet were pierced with nails. A crown of thorns was on my hed, and stripes from a soldier’s whip marked my back. I know the pain you are feeling, and I promise to never leave your side.

There is hope for our every crisis. Christ conquered death and hell when he arose, giving us the same power. Not only did he feel every pain we might have, but he also gives us his continual comfort, presence, and wisdom during every trial.

Jesus has experienced suffering personally. When we go to him with our pain, he understands. We can pour out our tears to him and have the comfort of knowing that he has tasted similar tears. We have a God who became one of us. We only need to look to the cross to know that God feels and shares our pain.

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About MainWriters

Writer and photographer
This entry was posted in Encouragement, Faith, Grief and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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