God who suffers well – Part 2
Humanity remains consistent and creative in their rebellion and indifference to God. Being the source of grief to God is not unique to any single people group, with all of mankind sharing in this role. Equally true, is God’s consistent grace. While His holiness and all other aspects of His character remain true, the day is coming when grace will step aside to allow justice to do its work. Jesus’ younger brother speaks about this coming day in Jude 1:14-15. Behold, the Lord comes… to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him (See also Romans 2:5-8). But for now, grace is dominant, and we should be very thankful for it.
The writer of Hebrews highlights the fact that Jesus Christ is the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3a) and has always existed in the splendour of heavenly glory. Yet He did not hesitate to surrender His privilege; He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). For a time, Jesus willingly exchanged His place of glory to become despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53:3).
As justified sinners, when we Christians look at Christ, we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he (Jesus) might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). Although He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22), He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).
In a world fixated on comfort, ease, and self-vindication, the sufferings of Christ are of no interest. The world continuously reasons away the reality of sin, despite the overwhelming evidence against itself. Yet, on the cross of Jesus, we see the greatest suffering purchased the greatest blessing for sinners who are willing to believe. Suffering was the inescapable path for the Son of God to appease the Father’s wrath (1 John 4:10). Suffering was the only mechanism through which the sacrificial Lamb of God could make atonement for sinners (John 1:29). Suffering was the only path capable of delivering the sanctification we sinners were incapable of (1 Corinthians 1:30). Indeed, the Saviour Jesus Christ suffered well.
Peter clearly understood the relationship between Christ’s suffering and believers’ salvation. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). While we struggle to understand how, it was Jesus alone, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ joy was in obeying His Father’s will for Him to go to the cross, in appeasing the Father’s wrath for man’s sin, and in making it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18).
God’s greatest expression of love towards mankind caused His greatest suffering. And from His suffering repentant sinners can receive the greatest blessings, forgiveness, rebirth, imputed righteousness, adoption, and eternal life in Christ.
To be continued…