THE SUFFERING OF CHRIST
by Bob Wheeler
So far in our series of Christmas meditations we have considered Christ’s preincarnate glory and His incarnation and the enormous self-sacrifice on His part that He displayed. But as remarkable as that may seem, there was even more involved. For when Christ came into the world and was born in Bethlehem He know what lay ahead. He was conscious of the main purpose for His coming – and that was to die on the cross.
Our text says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8; NKJV). This verse contains several propositions. First of all, it says that “He humbled Himself.” Even by ordinary human standards He was mistreated and abused. And yet, “When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (I Pet. 2:23). This must have taken a great deal of humility on His part – for the Son of God to be falsely accused and treated like a common criminal.
Why did He allow these things to be done to Him? Because the Father wanted Him to – it was all a part of God’s plan of redemption and was necessary for our salvation and was necessary for our salvation. And so our text says He “became obedient” – He was subservient to His Father’s will.
But not only was He humble and obedient, He was “obedient to the point of death.” Death is “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14). On the eve of His arrest and subsequent execution Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39). The “cup” represents one’s appointed destiny – as if someone handed you a cup and required you to drink whatever was in it. In this case the “cup” was Jesus’ impending death on the cross – a particularly painful, cruel and ignominious way to die. One could hardly conceive of a greater personal sacrifice. Yet Jesus did it anyway, and He did it for us.
Peter, who personally witnessed Christ’s sufferings on the cross, draws the implication for Christian believers: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps’ (I Pet. 2:21).
Would we be willing to suffer persecution, should it come our way?