Christ, and His sufferings on the cross, is a core theme of the Bible (John 1:45, John 5:39, Rev 19:10) .
Throughout the Old Testament the sufferings and death of Christ are presented through the sacrifices of the ceremonial law (Heb 10:10-18), as well as many Messianic prophecies looking ahead to His death (Isa 53:1-9, Luke 24:44 Acts 26:22-23).
In the New Testament, all four books of the gospels (Matthew – John) present the teachings of Christ concerning His upcoming sufferings (John 2:18-21, Matt 16:21, Matt 20:17-19 etc). These same books, then, present the historical account of His arrest, sufferings and death (Matt 26:-27:, Mark 14:-15:, Luke 22:-23:, John 18:-19:). In other New Testament writings, Christ’s sufferings are further explained, emphasized and recounted as the basis of salvation from mankind’s sin (1 Cor 15:1-11, Rom 4:24-25, 1 Pet 3:18 etc).
Let’s see, in detail, what the sufferings of Christ entailed…
Heb 2:9-10 (KJV)
9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10) For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The sufferings of Christ can be categorized as three basic types: Psychological, Physical and Spiritual:
The Psychological Sufferings of Christ (the mocking and humiliation that He experienced)
1 The robe placed upon Him the reed in His hand, bowing to Him… all of this was mocking His Kingship (Matt 27:28-29)
2 Spiting upon Him … mocking His choosing to not defend Himself (Matt 27:30)
3 Putting Him on public display and allowing the public to decide His fate, thus exercising authority over Him… mocking Him as Creator and Authority Holder over all mankind (John 19:5-16)
4 He was forced to carry His own cross… humiliating Him in the eyes of all the citizens watching (John 19:17)
5 He was crucified with two thieves, one on either side… the sinless Son of God publically being displayed as a heinous criminal. (Mark 15:27-28)
6 The plaque placed above Him on the cross… mocking His Kingship (John 19:19-22)
7 While on the cross …the mocking of His claim to be God (Matt 27:39-44, Luke 23:35- 37)
8 The casting of lots for His garments… humiliating Him by taking His possessions and then publically, selfishly profiting from them. The attitude of the soldiers (selfishness at the expense of others) was in direct contradiction to Christ’s attitude of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. (Mark 15:24)
The Physical Sufferings of Christ (the abuse upon His physical body)
1 Sweating great drops of blood, extreme physical agony (Luke 22:44)
2 Placing upon Him the crown of thorns (Mark 15:17)
3 Striking Him with the reed (Matt 27:30)
4 Scourging Him (a whip with bones and metal bits tied to its ends. These would tear out chunks of flesh with each strike. Many times, scourging would result in physical death.) (John 19:1)
5 His beard was plucked according to Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 50:6)
6 He was struck by soldier’s hands (John 19:3)
7 The crucifixion (Mark 15:25) -
Nailed to cross through the wrists and feet to cross (causing burning pain and paralysis of hands and bleeding in both wrists and feet) During the course of hanging on the cross the shoulders, elbows and wrists become dislocated. The breathing becomes difficult and as time progresses almost impossible. His CO2 blood levels increase and the heart beats faster to rid the CO2 from the blood. Due to increased difficulty in breathing the heart races faster and faster resulting in heart failure and filling of the lungs with liquid. Eventually a gradual suffocation takes the life of the victim.
(For a much more detailed information on the physical effects of crucifixion please see this article written by Dr Mark Eastman http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/113/)
The Spiritual Sufferings of Christ (His separation from God the Father)
“My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me” (Matt 27:46)
As Christ bore the sin of His people upon Himself, He was placed in a state of separation from His Father who can not look upon, nor stand in the presence of, sin (Isa 59:1-2, Prov 15:29, Ezek 39:24, 1 John 1:5-7).
This is the reason for the preceding period of darkness (symbolizing mankind’s wickedness and separation from God)… and Christ’s declaration that God had “forsaken” Him. (Isa 53:5-6,10-11, Gal 3:13, 1 Pet 2:21-25)
I believe this was the greatest suffering that Christ experienced on the cross.
The sufferings of Christ can never be fully described nor understood; they are beyond human mental conception. His sufferings go beyond anything ever experienced by man.
For those who have been given God’s gracious salvation from sin …
1Sam 12:24 – “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great [things] he hath done for you.”
By remembering His great sacrifice on our behalf it should also remind us of the great privilege we have to “love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” Deut 11:13.
For those who have yet to be given His saving grace…
What Christ has done for His people is a sacrifice that cannot be duplicated by man. Christ, the very Creator of the world, came to the earth, humbled Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross. (Phil 2:5-11) Why did He do this? So that He could save His people from the penalty, power and presence of sin. (Matt 1:21)
He willingly took the punishment of His people’s sins upon Himself, so that they would be delivered from the dominion of sin in their lives. (2 Cor 5:16-21, Gal 3:13) By willfully forsaking your sin and turning to Christ (“repentance”) and trusting Him as your Savior and your Lord, you too, can experience His forgiveness, His abiding presence and His eternal security for your life. (Acts 20:21, Mark 1:15, John 3:15-18)
If you have any further questions about the salvation that our Lord so graciously gives, please feel free to read my blog page… “How to have a relationship with God”. Also, you are welcome to contact me via a blog comment or email for any further questions you may have.
May the Lord bless you.