Salvation through Suffering

Perhaps even more than the agony of crucifixion, the mocking scorn of the people and their religious leaders broke the heart of our Savior (Psalm 69:9, 20). Jesus had refused the narcotic offered Him to lessen the pain (27:34), and was now enduring the slow, agonizing torture of the cross, His hands and feet pierced; the weight of His body supported by transfixed palms and perhaps a small block of wood for His feet; stripped and exposed to the reproach of passersby - He must have been a miserable spectacle. A crucified king? How could it be? Everything about this scene is a parody of royalty: The monarch has no splendid robes. Instead of a palace guard, He is watched by foreign soldiers. The title over His head, “This is the Jesus, King of the Jews,” was written as a sardonic insult by a Roman governor to the corrupt Jewish officials. In place of loyal citizens, He is taunted by a crowd that derides Him for His failure to save Himself. Instead of admiring courtiers, He looks down upon the horrid glee of self-righteous religious leaders who have finally caught their prey. They allude to Scriptures to “prove” that His plight demonstrates that His kingship is a fraud. And all because He would not save Himself from physical pain and death. They simply could not understand His mission, “To save His people from their sins” (1:21). Oblivious to the prophecies and types of a Suffering Savior, they pour contempt on His self-sacrifice, even as their ridicule fulfills the Psalm that most fully describes His total agony (Psalm 22:8; see also Isaiah 53 and Psalm 69). They had seen him save the sick from illness. What they could not see was the real meaning of Jesus’ healing miracles – to point to deliverance from sin and death. Nor could they understand that the Son of Man “must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19). Obsessed with earthly power and privilege, they could not imagine that the Son of Man had come to earth “to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (20:28). What about us? Do we also suspend faith in Christ upon His deliverance of us from earthly pain and trouble? Are we not prone to say, “If you take me down from this ‘cross’ I’ll believe in You?” Have we also forgotten that salvation comes only through suffering (16:24-25; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:17; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 1:6-9)?