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Passion: The Suffering Of Jesus

Jesus was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14.36

There are some traditions within the Christian Church were there seems to be almost a delight in the suffering inflicted upon Jesus in his last hours.The events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are examined and meditated upon in great detail, and the message of ‘Jesus having to suffer for our sin’ is the focus for all of this devotion. But why would God willlingly inflict suffering upon one God loves?  Why must a payment be made for sin?  Those who seem to revel in the pain and death Jesus suffered seem to prefer the idea of suffering to the idea of a gracious God who is willing to forgive without any payment, without anyone tortured, without any agonising death. 

Certainly Jesus didn’t talk of dying for the sins of the world, though he saw his own death as the result of his message and ministry, the inevitable end to a life lived in opposition to structures, systems, and people who oppress and seek to rule over others.  Jesus suffering was not to appease an angry God, or to save humanity from the wrath of God. The death of Christ, the suffering he endured is an indictment of the systems which dehumanise and destroy people, and Christ’s death shows what happens when anger and hatred are confronted by love - but the ultimate end of this story comes on Easter day… In this act of self giving, love based offering of himself, as writer Brian Zahnd says: “Jesus does not save us from God; Jesus reveals God!”

God in suffering, God in love, God in grace.