HE WALKED WHERE I WALK, He stood where I stand, He felt what I feel, He understands.
God with us, so close to us, God with us, Immanuel!
But does Jesus really understand our problems? Can he really help us?
Some folk here this morning, or others that we know and love, may be struggling with illness and pain. Some are bereaved and mourning. Some may feel crushed by disappointment, or let down by others. We may feel discouraged and depressed. Does God really understand how we feel?
Last week we saw how this world is just not fair! But we also saw how Jesus Himself experienced all the injustice of the world. And we saw how trusting in God’s grace will help us to cope with the unfairness of this fallen world. Today we will see how God shares in our sufferings, that on the cross Jesus Christ the blameless Son of God took upon himself the sufferings of the world. We are going to look at some of the events which led up to the cross, some of the ways Jesus suffered even BEFORE he was crucified for the sins of the world, just some of the ways in which God shares our sufferings.
All of us suffer sometimes at the hands of others simply because this world is NOT a fair place. If we look at Jesus’s trials before Caiaphas and before Pilate, what do we see? What an unjust place this world is! False accusations. Condemnation for speaking the truth. Rigged trials. Unjust imprisonment. Misunderstanding. Jealousy. The innocent dying while the guilty get off free. So often, good men doing nothing! Jesus went through all of these things and more the night before he was crucified. He has experienced the same injustice that so many human beings have experienced and are still experiencing today. But these things were just the start of Jesus’s suffering.
“Led like a lamb to the slaughter in silence and shame;
There on your back you carried a world of violence and pain;
Bleeding, dying, bleeding, dying!”
Jesus was bleeding and dying before he got to Golgotha, long before he was nailed to the cross!
First Jesus was scourged,
Jesus was FLOGGED
Matt 27: 26. Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
39 lashes was just one less than the 40 which were expected to lead to death. The body was to be laid bare and the victim flogged by a man with a leather scourge standing on a stone. According to the instructions, the reason for standing was “so that the blows came down with great force”. He who smites must smite with his one hand with all his might.” The scourge was a leather whip with bits of bone embedded in it which would tear the flesh away.
This is just one part of the suffering which Jesus Christ endured for you and me, for our salvation. And the point about Jesus’s flogging was that it was unjust, undeserved punishment. Like so many innocent people who have suffered in this world for their beliefs, or because of the colour of their skin, or simply because their face didn’t fit.
This suffering was not “redeeming suffering” – we aren’t saved because evil men treated Jesus this way. But it is “identifying suffering” – Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, Immanuel, God with us, identifying Himself with suffering people in every situation. Suffering with us, and setting an example of how Christians should deal with unjust punishments and other kinds of undeserved suffering.
1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
Jesus shows us how to endure suffering in ways that are pleasing to God. It takes great courage to follow in Jesus’s footsteps in this way.
21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
And in some mysterious way, this suffering DOES play a part in our salvation.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Next Jesus was CROWNED WITH THORNS
Matt 27: 27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.
Many people suffer through illness. But there are few illnesses which would give such intense physical pain as Jesus Christ experienced on the road to Calvary. We can imagine Jesus bravely facing capture in Gethsemane, the outrage of rigged trials, even the scourging which in some mysterious way plays a part in our salvation – by His stripes we are healed. But here surely is the part where Jesus must have been so strongly tempted to call it a day – to call for the 12 legions of angels to rescue Him. Pure barbaric cruelty. Senseless torture. Suffering which was neither redemptive nor even identifying – but simply pointless!
Like the Holocaust – concentration camps of Auschwiz, Belsen;
Like the senseless massacres at Hungerford, Dunblane, like the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
It was Robbie Burns who coined the phrase “man’s inhumanity to man”
Jesus has experienced all this!!! He really did drink the cup of suffering to the dregs!!
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with his presence. The picture of God in the Bible is of one who suffers, and when the mask is torn off life and we see all its profound and vast misery, the suffering, sorrowing God is the only one who does not mock us. He suffers with us!”
Then Jesus was MOCKED
Matt 27:29b They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
How ironic that the soldiers should treat Jesus as a King without ever recognising that He really WAS THE King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet Jesus didnt insist on that recognition, but humbly endured the insults, the derision. And He calls His disciples to follow in His footsteps.
We may not often experience unfair punishments. We may not often suffer innocently. Perhaps being mocked and laughed at is the close most of us come to following Jesus. Yet we run away and hide even from that. Think of the horrible deaths that most of the 12 apostles faced! Remember all the things the apostle Paul went through for proclaiming the gospel – “knocked down but not knocked out”:
2 Cor 11:23b -27.
Think of the things other Christians have endured for being followers of Christ. Perhaps it’s not that hard to stand up and be counted as a Christian in North Springfield after all! Think of all that Jesus went through for you and for me. Perhaps our pains and sadnesses and sufferings and disappointments are not that bad after all. Jesus was flogged. Jesus was crowned with thorns. Jesus was mocked. He DID walk where I walk, He DID stand where I stand, He HAS felt what I feel, He DOES understand! God with us, so close to us, God with us, Immanuel!