Well, there were only two of us today, but we had a good time. We’re discussing chapter 10, which is about Jesus’ death. Most of what we discussed today was about Jesus’ humility, and the purpose of His suffering.
Jesus’ humility is absoutely stunning. I don’t care how much thought you’ve given it in the past; there’s always more room to go back and marvel again. He is eternal God. He needed nothing; He was completely happy and self-sufficient within the Trinity. Yet He wanted to express His love to humanity, so He created us. He emotionally invested Himself in us. He gave us free will, knowing we would do hurtful things to Him with it, and He did it anyway. He didn’t shut His heart to us. That’s humble.
Not only did He create us out of love and humility, He then became one of us. He is the holy God who cannot be contained by even the highest of heavens, and He took on human frame. He is immortal Spirit, and He became mortal flesh, subjected to the physical pain, weariness, weakness, and even death, a truly physical Person living amongst the shambles of a fallen world. That’s humble.
When He did become a Man, He did not do so in a sudden appearance into a royal palace. It’s as if He looked for the lowest place He could enter the world, and He chose that. He was born to a young, poor couple. He was born into a people group who were living in oppression under a ruthless foreign government. He was even born in a stable. The King of all Kings, who could have chosen any time, place, and manner of coming, chose to come into the world in a place where He couldn’t even be afforded a room. That’s humble.
He grew up, being raised by parents who weren’t perfect, and surrounded with younger siblings who weren’t flawless. He interacted day in and day out with countless human beings, going through the mundane routine of life. He had to submit to His parents. He had to respect His elders. He had to submit to Roman authority and to Jewish law. His hands had formed the world, and now He was constrained to building tables and chairs. For thirty hidden years, while He was profoundly misunderstood by nearly everyone around Him, He lived the life of an obedient Son. That’s humble.
Going through His adult life and ministry, we find that “…The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus did not make posters and recruit marketing teams. He healed the sick and needy, sometimes all day. Jesus did not shmooze the top dogs in Judea in order to earn recognition and validation. He spoke to them truthfully, and often with shocking bluntness, calling them out of their compromise. Jesus did not seek a quick rise to power, even when it was offered to Him. He instead chose the Cross.
The crucifixion process is one of the most brutal and humiliating forms of execution that humanity has ever concocted. Yet this was the route which the Son of God, the only truly innocent Man to ever set foot on earth, chose for Himself. In order to save a planet full of people who had already shunned Him and chosen darkness, He submitted Himself to the agonies that everyone but Himself deserved. The very ones whom He was dying to save were the ones who were spitting in His face. And Jesus’ response? The King of kings, the almighty God, the everlasting Word, what did He have to say in response to our insolence? “Father, forgive them…” That’s really humble.
When looking at the sufferings of Christ, we can sometimes slip into a morbid sort of pity, “Oh, poor Jesus — all that garbage He had to go through. That must have really stunk.” But I really appreciate one of the points Oden brought up in this section: Jesus’ suffering was purposeful. Jesus was not just one of many casualties of a cruel world. He was true God who had chosen to become Man and identify with us in our state. As Oden put it, because He is the eternal Son, His suffering takes on eternal meaning. And it’s not just the Cross; it’s the entirety of His life, wherein He “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). We see a Man who suffered the entire range of human pain — betrayal, misunderstanding, mocking, abandonment, abuse — and overcame it all with a heart of meekness and love.
Everything that Christ suffered is redemptive. His was not a tragic life tangled in the swirl of wickedness. His was a life that was strategically and intentionally lived out for the redemption of the world. Every day was itself an act of intercession, with our merciful, sympathetic High Priest identifying with us and showing us the way to the Father. This is why we can “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3). Because Christ did not remove Himself from human suffering, we can look to Him for true comfort and hope in the midst of our own struggles.
This is not to say that Jesus had masochistic tendencies. As a Man who was more truly alive in His heart than anyone else, as someone who did not have emotional scars, walls, and baggage, He did not blandly embrace whatever pain came His way. He loves righteousness, justice, and life, and He resisted the effects of sin and brokenness. Note that He actually healed the sick and raised the dead. See also that prior to His own death, He was sweating drops of blood as He contemplated what He was about to do. Jesus’ perseverance is not that He didn’t truly experience suffering, or even that He wasn’t bothered by it, but rather that He wasn’t mastered by it. He was willing to endure the trials of life and the ultimate death of the Cross because He came to do the Father’s will. So even as He resisted the injustice of pain and suffering, He did not live in fear of it and did not compromise in order to avoid it.
Consider Him. He is truly beautiful, even in His sufferings.
Next week: We’re still in chapter 10. Check back next Sunday!