Saturday, June 11, 2011

Does Jesus Still Suffer?

Commenting on Joseph of Arimathea's loving care for Jesus' body, one scholar writes, "Never again will He be the object of human mockery, humiliation and violence.  He had already finished all (John xix. 30), and His honourable burial in the new rock-hewn tomb of the noble Joseph of Arimathea, is the prologue to His exaltation and glorification."  (Norval Geldenhuys, The Gospel of Luke, 618-19)

At one level, the one Geldenhuys was commenting on, that is a lovely thought.

At another level, it's wholly inaccurate.

Because Jesus so closely identifies with his church, he continues to experience "mockery, humiliation and violence." 

When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting Christians, the Lord Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and questioned, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4, emphasis added)

When Jesus talked about the sheep and the goats, he explained to the righteous that whenever they met the needs "of the least of these brothers of mine," they did so unto Jesus.  Many scholars believe "the least of these brothers of mine" refers specifically to his followers who are needy (and not generally to all the world's needy).  So when Jesus' followers feel deprivation, so does Jesus.

One of the New Testament metaphors for the church is the body of Christ.  What the Church feels, he feels.  What the Church endures, he endures.

Jesus radically identifies with his followers.  He can say "I feel your pain" in a far, far more truthful way than President Clinton ever could.

When Coptic Christians are harrassed by Muslim thugs while police look on, Jesus is harrassed.
When Uzbek Christians are imprisoned on false charges in order to neutralize their witness, Jesus is falsely accused and falsely imprisoned.
When you are mocked or marginalized for your faith, Jesus is also mocked and marginalized.

So at one level, Jesus' suffering is done.  At another level, however, he continues to suffer.
He no longer suffers for his people; "it is finished."  He does, however, continue to suffer with his people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Kent, God always suffers when we sin against Him. Always, and eternally. Men are created IN His image, not out of it. Christ is "express image of His Person," (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Christ (The God-Man), who knew no sin, became sin (on the cross) that we might be made the righteousness of God IN Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus certainly suffered on the cross, both physically and spiritually (Psalm 22:1 with New Testament). So, yes, Jesus still suffers. The Image of the living God is holy. Holiness colors EVERYTHING GOD IS. EVERYTHING. Therefore, sinful men affect Him. As we work to kill things that work contrary to our very lives such as cancer or T.B., etc., so also God works to kill everything that is contrary to His eternal life. And the only known thing that is is SIN.
God, of course, loves the entire world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son for all of us. And God is not willing that ANY man should perish (2 Peter 3:9). I believe it is quite clear in Scripture that God suffers WITH His people as well as suffering great loss when people apart and alone from Him in the world die. --Dad.