The peace with God through Christ’s suffering.
Text: Matthew 27:27-54
The word Passion as used Galatians 5:24 can be defined as strong feeling, intense desire or enthusiasm towards something. It is also referred to as affection and lust of the flesh. Paul in his letter said “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and its passion and desires”. However, when Passion is used in relation to Jesus Christ, it refers to his suffering and death, in which case it is prefixed by the word “The”, The Passion (of Jesus Christ). In the Christian world, this period is referred to as the “The Passion Week”. It starts from “Palm Sunday” when Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem as a king, through to “Good Friday”, when he was crucified. In our study, we shall examine some of the agonies and pains experienced by our Lord Jesus during “The Passion Week”.
The objectives of this study are:
- To Critically examine Christ suffering.
- To understand why He needed to go through all the sufferings.
- To understand how we are to reciprocate the sacrifice of Christ for us.
- To examine Christ seven last statements on the cross.
- To identify some of the miraculous events that accompanied the death of Christ.
Q1. Read and briefly comment on the following pains suffered by our Lord Jesus Christ.
- False witness against Him. Matthew 26:59-61 Two witnesses who claim to testify against Christ came forward and said, “This man said I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days”. This was false. Jesus said, “Destroy this templeand in three days I will raise it up”. However, He never referred to the infrastructural Temple of God; rather He was referring to His Body, His death and resurrection, which the so-called witnesses failed to understand. In ignorance, they testified falsely against Christ. This must have really caused Jesus a great deal of pain.
- Smitten and spat on. Mark 14:65, 15:19: John 18:22 It was a public humiliation of an innocent man. There was no basis for such treatment, but for His obedience to the command of His Father. He neither complained nor reacted in any form.
- Given gall and vinegar. John 19:28-29: Matthew 27:34, 48 It is unimaginable to think of offering bitter or sour liquid to a man hungry and thirsty of water. What a mockery!
- Hands and feet pierced. John 19:37; 20:25-27 Jesus was nailed to the cross alive. This was physical injury with great pain. The excruciating pain is better imagined than experienced.
- Mocked while dying. Matthew 27:39-40 While in great pain and distress, deserted by His disciples, needing encouragement and comfort. Even His kinsmen mocked Him.
- His side was pierced. John 19:34 The only way the soldiers who crucified Him thought right to ascertain whether He was still alive while hanging on the cross, was to pierce His side with a spear. What an act of merciless cruelty!
- Flogged with a whip. Matthew 27:26 Jesus was flogged, not with just an ordinary whip, but one with thorns which made visible marks of injury all over His body.
- He was stripped and worn a crown of thorns. Matthew 27:28-29 The soldiers forced the “crown” on His head that pierced His head and blood gushed out while stripped, while they shouted a mockery slogan – “King of the Jews”. The worst criminal was never treated this way.
- He carried His heavy cross to the crucifixion site. John 19:17 Christ was forced to carry the heavy cross on which He was to be crucified. With all the torture He had received, He was still subjected to the heavy weight of the cross.
- Nailed on the Cross among criminals. Matthew 27:35, 38: John 19:18 What a contradiction! An innocent man numbered among criminals.
- Forsaken by God the Father, on account of Sin. Matthew 27:46 For an offence He never committed, His Father – on whose order and in obedience to whose will, for which He was being tortured – turned His back on Him. There is no doubt that at such a time, the encouraging words of a father was very necessary, but He never received any.
Q2. Why did Jesus go through all these sufferings? Matthew 8:16-17; Romans 8:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Isaiah 53:4-5
Jesus went through the sufferings, firstly to fulfill the prophecy concerning Him, Isaiah 53:4-5 and secondly, to accomplish His mission on earth. He came to redeem sinners, you and me, from the consequences of sin. The penalty of sin is death. For sin to be forgiven the penalty must, of necessity, be paid by the redeemer; and this involves a process of sufferings that lead to death. The scriptures say, “The wages of sin is death”. In other words, for sin to be forgiven, a sinless person must die. It was His love for us that made Him endure the pains, the agonies, the afflictions, the contradictions and the eventual death on the cross. He was willing to subject Himself to the will of His Father. He was sent as a sacrifice to take away sin. Christ’s love for us made Him offer a solution for the problem of sin. He suffered and died for our sake.
Q3. How are we to reciprocate the sacrifice of Christ for us?
If Christ loved us so much that He died for us, we can only reciprocate this sacrifice by loving Him absolutely, and demonstrate this love by maintaining a passionate hatred for sin. We should live our lives to please Him. He commands us to express this love to others, especially those who have not known about His love for them. We must take this command seriously by telling them about His love and encouraging them to embrace it and reach out for their salvation that comes through this love. We must not fail to let them know the danger inherent in ignoring the love of Christ for them.
Q4. Identify and briefly comment on the seven last statements of Jesus on the cross.
- “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, Luke 23:34. Though facing imminent death, Jesus demonstrated His unfeigned love to His ‘enemies’. He was careful to understand their state of ignorance and prayed that they be forgiven their sins. This was the very reason for His Passion.
- “Verily I say unto thee, today shall thou be with me in Paradise”, Luke 23:43. This statement was directed to one of the two criminals who were crucified with Him. He acknowledged Jesus as a King whose kingdom would soon appear. While dying, his faith in the ability of Jesus to turn things around for him remained very strong. He saw beyond the cross to the coming Glory.
- “Mother behold thy son, son behold thy mother”, John 19:26-27. While on the cross, Jesus showed concern for His mother’s welfare. He instructed John, one of the disciples to take care of her as would a son. Not many sons nowadays show concern for their parents. It is the responsibility of sons to take care of their parents under any circumstances. Nothing should excuse us from taking care of our parents.
- “Eli, Eli, Lamasabachthani”, Matthew 27:46. The statement is interpreted as “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” It was an exclamation of a humble spiritual agony of separation from His God as a result of the burden of sin He had to bear in His body in order to free us from the consequences of sin. Jesus suffered this separation, a similitude of the second death, so we would never experience it.
- “I thirst”, John 19:28. This statement came in order that the prophecy of King David concerning Him, the Messiah, might be fulfilled, Psalm 69:21.
- “It is finished”, John 19:30. Having fulfilled the last prophecy concerning Him, there was need for a declaration of the completion of His assignment on earth – the account of salvation had been settled.
- “Father into thy hands, I commit my Spirit”, Luke 23:46. For death to occur, the spirit must be separated from the body. Jesus had earlier assured that He would lay down His life, so He could take it again. To do this, He needed to hand over His spirit which was from the Father, back to Him for keeps until the resurrection morning.
Q5. Identify some of the significant events that accompanied Christ’s death. Matthew 27:50-54
The first miraculous event that occurred at Christ’s death was the splitting into two of the Veil that separated the Sanctuary from the common hall of the Temple, from top to bottom, demonstrating the removal of the barrier between man and God as a result of sin, and that free access into God’s presence has now been provided.
There was an earthquake that rocked the fabrics of the earth and rented the rocks and tombs. This gave rise to the confession of the Roman officer and soldiers that were eye witnesses that, “this man was truly the Son of God.”
Daily living application
The sinless servant of God offered Himself for our sins. He is the lamb offered for the sin of all people. He suffered and died for our sake. He bore our sins to make us acceptable to God. What can we say to such love? How will we respond to Him? By Him we now belong to an enormous family of believers who have become right with God. Not by our work but by the great work on the cross. We are justified because we have received Christ, the righteous Son of God, as our Savior and Lord. Our life of sin has been stripped away and we are clothed with Christ’s goodness. Sin separates us from God and brings us pain and suffering. But if we confess our sins and repent of them, God will forgive us. God experiences joy when a sinner repents and returns to Him. What a friend we have in Jesus. All our grief and sins He has borne. To God be the glory!
Isaiah 53:5 – “But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His strips we were healed.”