In the first part of this meditation (June 25), we considered the suffering of the Messiah Jesus Christ from the perspective of His daily exposure to the ugliness and the offense of sin. He as the Holy One, as very God in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3 NAS), had to endure a lifetime among those who were rebellious and disobedient and fallen. Surely this constant bombardment of sin from those around Him must have been a source of persistent suffering, but this suffering, while real, is mentioned only occasionally by Jesus, because the focus of the Scripture is on the very specific and purposeful suffering of the Messiah.
The suffering that is the focus of Scripture is the extraordinary suffering of Jesus the Messiah in which, on the cross, He received in Himself the just punishment for the sins of all the elect and thus propitiated the wrath of God against them (1 John 4:10; Hebrews 2:17; Romans 3:25). The primary suffering of Jesus is the suffering of the cross. This is the agony of bearing the full punishment for sin in His own body on the tree. This suffering is utterly unique, for only the chosen Messiah was worthy to bear the wrath of God against sin. Thus while sinners share with Jesus in the general suffering of this fallen world, no sinner shares in any part of the suffering of atonement, for no sinner is worthy or able to bear this awful suffering of the pouring out of God’s wrath. No sinner shares in this suffering, because this suffering is FOR sinners, not BY sinners. The awesome act of atonement is a work accomplished by Christ alone and in this atonement, Christ suffers utterly alone. The Chosen One hangs on the tree completely exposed to the full weight of the wrath of God with no one to comfort Him and no place to hide. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” How can any human being grasp the height or the depth of this divine suffering? Here we see the agony of God the Son as God the Father propitiates His wrath on Him, a wrath merited by the sins of God’s elect.
This is the true suffering of Jesus the Messiah. It is an exclusive suffering, experienced by Christ only and by Christ alone. It is a necessary suffering, in that our salvation depends on this atonement. It is a planned suffering, for Jesus Christ knew that He was sent to earth for this very suffering. It is a purposeful suffering, in which Christ, through His death, accomplishes the redemption of His people.
“. . . since Christ also suffered for you . . .” SDG rmb 7/12/2016