Skip to main content

The God Who Suffered

Every Easter season we remember the greatest event in human history, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we tell the story in our houses of worship, a story that has been told to us many times before, a story we remember every time we share in the Lord's Table, a story we sing about and express in our art, we declare our God is a God who suffered.

It's an odd claim and truth to boast of and we understand why the early disciples struggled to accept it. The disciples of Jesus had grown up in a world with suffering all around them. They felt the oppression of a brutal empire. They saw profound sickness and death. They saw economic poverty as the result of the rich and spiritual poverty as the result of hypocrisy and empty religious leadership. The walked with Jesus and saw him heal lepers, calm storms, raise the dead, and transform the lives of the darkest sinners. What was the culmination of Christ's ministry and profound love for humanity?

"And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again." (Mark 8:31)

Peter got angry and rebuked the Lord. Suffer? Rejected? Killed? 

The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of suffering. When Christ died on the cross, he revealed the wonderful and true nature of God - God loved his enemies and was willing to suffer for them. His disciples expected him to fully establish his eternal kingdom immediately but Christ had other plans. Christ suffered a humiliating death and his kingdom would come about like a long labour in the night. His children would be shaped and transformed not by a genie granting wishes in the sky, but by a God who suffered. 

Like Peter, we often don't want to believe in this type of God, a God who ushered in his kingdom with the horror of the cross, and a God who asks us to take up our own cross of suffering and follow him. However, beyond every loss is the promise of restoration, every pain the hope of redemption, for Christ did not stay buried in his tomb. The Resurrection is the story of a suffering King who conquered death and one day is coming to make all things new.

This is the hope of the Christian faith and the joy of Easter. 

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you for this Matt! All the more poignant and comforting in the light of how today has unfolded for you and your family! Christ is risen indeed, and we live because He lives! Continuing to uphold you all in prayer!
Dave and Gwen

Popular Posts

Did God Command Genocide?

If you've ever taken any interest in the debate between Christianity and Atheism, you've more than likely come across the following critique of the Bible: "The Old Testament God is hardly one to be worshipped. He's a vindictive, angry, jealous God who commands genocide!"

This line of attack is hardly unjustified. How are we to respond when we come across verses like these?  However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them - the Hitties, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusties - as the Lord your God has commanded you. (Deut 20:16-17) Go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. (1 Sam 15:3) For some, the solution is easy. Simply pretend like these verses don't belong in the Bible. Problem solved. But this creat…

Let's Talk

I went to go check out a childhood friends facebook page in the winter of 2010. I hadn't talked to him since I was a teenager. I soon found out that I would never talk to him again,

I did a quick google search and found out that he had been apart of an online gaming community. I tracked him down to some forums where I suddenly became away that something tragic had befallen him.

The last time I had talked to him was shortly after I moved back to southwestern Ontario. I don't remember much of the conversation, except that he told me he was feeling depressed. I was 13 at the time and depression was just a word that I thought meant "sad". We caught up, talked about the trivial things that 13 year old boys talk about, but something wasn't right. We never talked again. 
Now 15 years later I was reading these words about a person who was once a close friend of mine. "What a f***ing coward." or "I can't believe someone could be that selfish.". It …

How are you feeling?

Response 1:

"I'm not sleeping again. It turns out my body might be reacting to antidepressants. The annoying symptom? Night sweats. We thought it might be lymphoma. It wasn't. That was a fun couple of weeks. I'm terrified. I'm terrified that this won't be the end of it, that the next medicine will fail too, and those absolutely terrifying impulses to harm myself and the thoughts of failure that I tell myself I am over and over and over and over and over and over again will one day be too much. Will these thoughts that only seem to stop in short intervals darken into complete mental breakdown? My biggest fear isn't snakes or falling, it's that I will end up on the street and lose my intellect and sanity, being mocked by people who don't know what mental illness is like. I'm afraid that the loneliness I seem to NEVER break from free from will enslave me into a life of dependence on others. I was doing so well but maybe wellness is just an illusio…