An Easter Message for the Saved: Suffering

Message of the Cross
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
March 20th, 2016
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Listen to full sermon here.

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What is the message of suffering of the cross for us?

Christianity is the only faith where our God suffers.

There is a poem by Edward Shillito, a Free Church minister in England, during the First World War.  And as he ministered to so many young men who came back from the war who had witnessed so much suffering, he wondered “How could Christianity still be ‘good news’ to those had seen so much in the brutal trench battle?”

And what he realized is that among all the world religions, only Christianity portrays a God suffering as a man. And so he wrote The following poem, Jesus of the Scars, as an attempt to explain this comforting truth, that Jesus suffered with us, and that we are not alone in a world wrecked by war, death, injustice, and natural disasters:

If we have never sought, we seek you now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on your brow;
We must have you, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, you drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong; but you were weak;
They rode, but you didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds speak;
And not a god has wounds, but you alone

But, why is there so much suffering in the world?

Tim Keller in his Bible study, The Reason for God, gives us this answer.

“ We still don’t know what the reason for suffering is; God doesn’t tell us.  But we do know what the reason for suffering isn’t. It [the reason for suffering] can’t be because he doesn’t love us…”

Dr. Keller explains that Jesus wouldn’t have come and suffered with us if that were the case.

“And it can’t be that he can just snap his fingers and let it all go away AND still have us.”

It’s the ‘and still have us’ that is the key to this comment.  God could snap his finger and it all goes away…but the problem is, if but if he did, we would go with it.  To end all suffering, is to end sin. To end sin and evil, is to end the world (this is the reason for the Great flood)

"In other words, if Jesus loves us enough to suffer for us, then He must have a good reason for allowing it to go on."

So, what we can learn from Jesus’ suffering?

Jesus’ Suffering

Luke 23:32-46
32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.
35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine 37 and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
38 An inscription was above Him:
39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”
43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. 46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.

1. Jesus suffered with us 

Jesus suffered in many way, even before he reached the cross.  He suffered from hunger during his 40 days of fasting.   He suffered denying himself by resisting temptation.  He suffered rejection from a people who were supposed to have welcomed him with open arms.  He suffered being bullied (albeit unsuccessfully) by the Pharisee’s and Sadducees.  He suffered being betrayed by a close friend.  He suffered being tortured and He suffered death by hanging on a cross.

Jesus suffered.

But here is the thing…all of this suffering is physical suffering is not an extraordinary feat.  Other men have suffered all of these physical pains. Don’t get me wrong, I get it…he didn’t deserve it…but others people have suffered in the same physical ways that Jesus suffered.

And what this means for us is that Jesus suffered WITH us…

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 2:18
For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.

And since Jesus himself has suffered all of the things that man has suffered, this means that he is able to help us through our suffering.

We can endure because he endured

2. Jesus suffered for us

A moment ago I said Jesus’ physical suffering was not an extraordinary feat.  And before you call me blasphemous, let me explain.

Jesus’ physical suffering was not an extraordinary feat, but his spiritual suffering was!

His spiritual suffering was far more suffering than we have experienced.  How did Jesus suffer spiritually?  Jesus suffered spiritually by lowering himself from a position of a king to a position of a servant’s servant.

Hebrews 2:9
But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

He suffered spiritually, by taking on our sin, when He had no sin.

I Peter 2:24
He Himself bore our sins
in His body on the tree,
so that, having died to sins,
we might live for righteousness;
you have been healed by His wounds.

As a result, Jesus suffered far more than just the worldly suffering we experience. He took on our sin, our shame, our guilt, our punishment as if it were His own. Jesus even suffered being cut off from His Father. “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and this is far more suffering than we have ever endured.

And why did he endure this spiritual suffering?
"so that, having died to sins,
we might live for righteousness;
you have been healed by His wounds."

Jesus suffered spiritually FOR us and as a result…
We won’t endure suffering for eternity.

So the message of the cross is suffering…

Jesus suffered with us, so that with his help We can endure the suffering we face while here on earth.

And Jesus suffered for us So that we won’t endure suffering for an eternity.

Christianity is the only faith on the planet earth, where our God loves us enough to suffer with us and for us…

One day… All of our sufferings will just a distant memory…

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.

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