by Roland W. Keith
For regular readers you have probably noticed that for the past month or so (the holiday season) we have been focused mainly on the life of Christ from a variety of perspectives. This week will continue that trend as we spend some time discussing Jesus as the suffering Savior. Truly, no one has lowered himself as far below his given station for the benefit of others as the Son of God did when He left His place beside His Father in heaven to come to earth. Choosing to be born as a babe in humble circumstances, He rose to manhood thoroughly acquainted with the griefs of the world and prepared to lead His fellow man out of the darkness of sin into the light of God’s grace.
Paul described the Lord’s earthly sojourn with these words, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:4-8).
By humbling Himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, put both the will of His Father and the welfare of the human race above His own interests and well-being as a man. Moreover, He did it without compulsion, acting of His own free will, as He Himself said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him Who sent Me… For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father” (John 6:38; 10:17-18; see also Luke 19:10).
By acting in accordance with His Father’s will He chose to suffer for sinners, knowing that most of them will reject the sacrificial gift He has offered on their behalf. Nonetheless, both He and God the Father deemed the salvation of those who would accept God’s gift of grace as sufficient reason for them to implement their plan to redeem mankind. A plan set forth because of the great love that God has for His creation.
Although we often talk about Jesus’ death the fact is, He lived His life with a singular purpose— to save man from eternal punishment and to provide a heavenly home for those who choose to become citizens of His kingdom. Only, after devoting His entire life to obedient service (Luke 2:49; John 10:25; 15:10), and implementing the plan given by heralding the coming kingdom and preparing His disciples to carry on upon His ascension, did He lay down His life for us.
As with His entire life, the last twenty-four hours played out according to prophesy. He was betrayed by a friend (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15, 48-50, 52-56). He was a righteous or falsely accused sufferer (Psalm 69; John 15:25; Romans 15:1-3; Matthew 26:59-60), and without proper examination His faithful testimony was deemed a lie (Matthew 26:63-66). He was a victim of treachery, deceit, betrayal, lies and political manipulation (Mark 15:3; Luke 23:2; John 19:12-15).
After His betrayal He was abandoned to His fate by His followers (Matthew 26;56), who had proclaimed their willingness to die with Him (Matthew 26:33-35). Not only did they run, but Peter, perhaps His most ardent follower, denied Him with an oath and curses (Matthew 26:69-75).
After the mockery of the trials He was subjected to, and a rush to judgment Jesus was beaten and mocked, then presented to the people (John 19:1-3), before Pilate examined Him one last time, and bending to the will of the Jewish leaders and the crowd turned Him over for crucifixion (John 19:1-16). At the end, beaten so severely He could not bear the burden of the cross alone, Jesus was crucified between two criminals (Luke 23:32-33).
In the final hours of His life Jesus was forsaken (Psalm 22:1-31; Matthew 27:39-44, 46; Hebrews 2:12), calling out in the end, “"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” After His death one of the Roman guards pierced His side driving his spear through His lungs and heart validating His death. It was only after His ordeal on the cross was over that two of His followers took courage and claimed His body (John 19:38-40). However, His story was not over!
Three days later Jesus Christ stood resurrected, becoming the chief-cornerstone of the kingdom He had come to earth to establish and die for (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:22-32; 13:35-37; Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6-8)!
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.