Through the Gospel of Mark I have been reflecting on the suffering of Christ. Let’s consider what He endured:
- Jesus’ life was one of rejection – his family, the crowd, the religious leaders, some Gentiles… and then His closest friends. Out of His disciples, one betrayed Him, one denied Him, and the rest deserted Him. How hard would it have been for Christ to experience this (remembering that He was not only fully God but also fully man)?
- Then before crucifixion He was scourged, mocked, beaten and had thorns pressed into His scalp. Consider the punches and kicks He endured; picture Him being spat on; consider Him being pushed into the dirt, mixed with animal dung, which would get into His open wounds. He would have been completely broken and He hasn’t even been crucified yet!
- Traditionally if crucified you are the one to carry the cross – carry your own implement of death. But Jesus was so beaten and broken that He was physically unable do it. He was so near death that He could not carry His cross.
- Then there was the crucifixion. He wouldn’t have had the dignity of a loin cloth. If He needed to relieve Himself it would have been openly before crowds. He was supporting His body weight either through nails in His wrists or in His feet. To breathe He had to pull His body up, which was exhausting and painful. And it took hours to die this painful way on the cross!
- At the end He cried out, “God, why have you forsaken me”. He has been rejected by family, His town, Jews, Jewish religion leaders, 12 closest disciples, 3 closest friends, and right at the end He felt He has been rejected by God! And then He died.
Our God came to earth and new sorrow upon sorrow and pain upon suffering upon pain. Why did He do this? The Creator of all things came to earth, becoming one of His creation, allowed to be killed by His own creation, all in order to save the very people who did this to Him!
The Gospel of Mark paints the picture of Jesus as the Suffering Servant.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
The last few weeks I have been encapsulated in my own sorrows, trials and pains. I’ve been holding on to hurt and the disappointments that come in life. I’ve been struggling to enter into praise and worship, preferring to nurse my own pain. This is not to devalue the healing that I needed and that God has achieved in me, but it is to say that my eyes were on myself, and I was having a nice pity-party. The Gospel of Mark reminds me that I have a God who has been through it all. He is merciful and loving and He can identify with my pain.
There is such beauty that comes when we know that we are not alone in our pain. Jesus understands. And He doesn’t say, “Toughen up Princess, I’ve been through worse”. No, He says, “I know you’re hurting, I’m here to hold you as you go through it. You are precious to Me and I will see you through; you are so beloved by Me that I endured suffering unspeakable – Just.For.You”.
Oh Jesus, thank you! When we turn our eyes upon Jesus and consider what He endured for us . . .
Yes, Jesus suffered. Yes, He died. But then He rose again. And through His victory, we have received victory too! In Him we find life, and love, and HOPE!
I’m putting with this an article called “The Long Silence” and in response to this message I’d encourage you to read it and draw hope and encouragement from it.