The news is full of reports of human suffering in your community and around the world. The resent hurricane season has caused insurmountable devastation from the Caribbean to parts of Pennsylvania.
Jesus seemed to embrace His suffering in a way that can be an example for us. The disciples had all come on board. They had been with Him through the good times, feeding of 5000, hundreds of healings, great teaching, and even arguments from the religious leaders. It was time for Jesus to ask them the golden question. These 12 from His inner circle should be able to know by now who He really is. He asked them straight out. Who do you say I am? Peter answered, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20).
That’s great. That’s important. You must get this fundamental fact down before you are ready to handle the rest of Jesus’ story. Jesus is the Christ of God, the Son of God. Have you come to know and understand that fact yet? When you do, you are ready to understand more. Jesus went on to warn them not to tell anyone who He is, while at the same time exposing them to the deeper reality of His purpose on earth.
He told them The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life (Luke 9:22). In the same lesson about knowing Who Jesus is, the disciples were also taught that being the Son of God meant embracing suffering. Jesus seems to connect being the Son of God with the mission of the Son of God. Who He was and what He must do seemed to fit nicely together in Jesus’ mind.
Many of us do not feel very chosen by or close to God when we are faced with suffering. In fact, we might be known to make some horrible accusation about God when we hurt. We feel that God has slighted us by not protecting us from the pain that overwhelms our lives. For Jesus, this was not the case. It was definitely because He was the Son of God that the fact of suffering did not unnerve Him. The fact that He would have to suffer the most immense kind of suffering any human being has ever known did not make Him question whether He was the Son of God or whether God loved Him.
The suffering was a part of His purpose on earth. He didn’t like it. He didn’t look forward to it. But, He was sure that it would need to happen.
Suffering was part of Jesus’ story. He told them plainly, now that you know that I am God’s Son I have more to tell you about myself. I am God’s Son and I will suffer. I will be rejected and killed, and on the third day raised to life. This is all part of my journey. I want you to know that I am not afraid of My suffering, I accept My suffering. That doesn’t make it any less painful, but it does make it have a purpose in my life.
How has suffering been a part of your life? Have you blamed God for not being kind enough for the way you have suffered, or have you clung to your identity in Him to help you recover from the suffering?