The Sufferings of Christ on the Cross (Part One)

As we start a busy week at work, let us think of how Jesus the Messiah accomplished our redemption that we might be right with God. There are four kinds of suffering he endured for our sake. We will look at the first two of these today.

First, Jesus suffered physical pain and death.

  • Crucifixion (Mark 15:24) was a horrible and cruel death, but the Bible never claims that the death of Christ on the cross was the most physically terrible death ever suffered. The focus of the Bible is simply not on his physical suffering in any of the accounts in the Four Gospels (Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37). Any reader in the ancient world would understand the horrors of crucifixion, but the Bible neither goes into elaborate details about it nor encourages meditation on the stages of our Lord’s physical pain and suffering.
  • However, the Bible does stress the reality of Christ’s physical sufferings and death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Galatians 3:13; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14-15; 10:10). Our salvation was secured in space-time history by the real death of Jesus on the cross. It is not merely a moving story; it is a true, historical event where a real man suffered and bled and died.

Second, Jesus the Son of God experienced the pain of bearing sin.

  • Far more awful than any physical suffering was the anguish and suffering of Jesus Christ the Righteous One bearing the guilt of our sin. Since he is also Son of God, he fully shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit total hatred of sin. Rebellion and transgression and trespass and missing the mark and twistedness and everything else that makes sin “sin” contradicted everything in his holy person. “Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being. All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully on him” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 573).
  • Consider the Biblical testimony that our sins with their guilt and liability to punishment were put on Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24).
  • How could our sins be put on Christ? They could be put on Christ in the same way that Adam’s sin was put on us—by imputation, by considering or crediting them as actually belonging to him. The Bible’s teaching of the imputation of sin and righteousness is at the core of the gospel. Apart from this truth, we have no possibility of salvation.
  • How could God do this? As the Lawmaker and Judge, he has the authority to set up principles of justice in the universe he created. One of these principles is representation and substitution; another is the imputation of sin or righteousness. Since God is holy, righteous and wise, he only does what is in conformity with his character. In addition, the Persons of the Trinity agreed in this plan of salvation. Christ, God the Son, was a willing sacrifice for sinners given by the willing Father.

Grace and peace, David