4Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions: he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. — Isaiah 53:4-6
It’s a historical fact that Jesus Christ suffered. But the idea that His suffering was necessary—that He had to suffer--has often been the subject of scorn from those who have criticized and ridiculed Christianity through the centuries. It is also what sets Christianity apart.
But the question remains why couldn’t Jesus have just died for us; why was it essential that He suffered? And make no mistake about it, when the Bible says Jesus suffered for your sins, He suffered . . . at His trial, at His scourging, on the road to the cross, then of course on the cross itself.
Death by crucifixion includes all the horror that pain and death can offer. This ghastly execution, embraced by the Romans, involved dizziness, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of intended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which the person could endure it but stopping just short of the point where unconsciousness would bring some relief. And it was designed to keep the person conscious and suffering. These executions sought an agonizing torture which completely humiliated the accused.
Let it never be in doubt, Jesus suffered.
Now the all-important question: Why did Jesus have to suffer? Why couldn’t God have just let Him die to pay for our sins?
First John 4:10 says, “And this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the payment for our sin.” The key word here is payment. The Bible explains this payment in many different ways.
Some would still ask, “What debt? What payment was owed?” He paid to satisfy the demands of God’s anger.
Peace with God is the absence of anger. As much as God loves you, He hates your sin with a holy, burning hatred that you cannot comprehend. But He does love you, and the only way that He could embrace you was to take His hatred for your sin and make someone else pay for it. (See Romans 5:1) And it couldn’t be just anyone—it had to be someone perfect. Since we’re all sinners, He came Himself.
That’s the gospel; that’s the whole subject.
Have you received Jesus’ gift?
— James MacDonald
Dear God, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. You have offered the free gift of a Savior in Jesus Christ. Lord, I accept that gift right now and personally ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life. Right here, right now. No more excuses. I want to be forgiven. Thank You, Lord, for what You endured to bring me, a nobody with a past, into your kingdom forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.