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. 


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

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