The world is remembering the sufferings of Christ again. Many Christians around the world observe this week as ‘passion week’ or ‘holy week’. Some even enact His sufferings by fasting, beating their body, bearing the cross or even by hanging on the cross. On Good Friday, some churches conduct special mourning services. And on Sunday, with the celebration of resurrection the forty days lent period will be over and feasting time begins. Then waiting for another year to remember the sufferings of Christ!
In spite of such religious ritual, it seems the world as a whole has forgotten the sufferings of Christ. Often we hear people comment on great historical figures who sacrificed their life for certain ideology, but no of them see beyond the recent history. It appears that the world is consciously trying to put Christ out of view.
We who claim to know the word of God and follow it vigorously should examine, ‘do we actually remember the sufferings of Christ’? Is our remembrance of the Lord’s suffering only confined to a ritualistic celebration?
There are three things we should notice in connection with the sufferings of Christ.
1. Christ wanted His disciples to understand His sufferings clearly.
That’s why we see the Lord repeatedly spoke about it in advance. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Matt. 20: 18, 19 cf. 16:21; 17:22; Mark 10:32.
The Lord Jesus Christ knew all the details of His suffering. It was not an accident; in fact He came purposely to suffer to as determined in the eternal plan of God. But before He went through those painful hours, He made every effort to make the disciples aware of it.
We know they failed to comprehend it fully. Not only they became sad on hearing it, Peter even tried to stop Him from going through such agony. Matt. 27:23; 16:22, 23. Even after the death of Christ they did not fully realize the implications of Christ’s suffering. We see the risen Lord rebukes them for their failure in understanding the Old Testament predictions about the sufferings of the Messiah. Luke. 24: 25—27, 44—46.
Certainly, our ignorance of Christ’s sufferings and our neglecting of it hurt the Lord very much. He wants to reveal the truths involved in all what He went through from Gethsemane to Calvary. Just as He opened the understanding of those who walked on the Emmaus road, may the Lord open our eyes to see what actually happened to the Lord in His agony. (Ref. out line)
2. Christ wanted His disciples to remember His sufferings.
By instituting the Lord’s Supper He made it sure that the disciples will remember and proclaim his sufferings and death till His second coming. Cf. Luke. 22:19; 1Cori. 11:24—26. The early Church observed it daily in the beginning and later on every Lord’s Day. (Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Cori. 16: 2; Rev 1:10)
Does it mean we should think of Christ’s sufferings on every Sunday only? I believe the person and the work of the Lord should be the meditation of our heart constantly. And the thoughts of His humiliation and exaltation should move us to live for Him.
3. The Lord wanted His disciples to follow the path of suffering. Luke 14:27; John 21:19
Not only had He suffered in our place to atone for our sins, Peter says, it is an example. We must be willing to suffer as the Lord- unjustly as well as patiently. 1Peter 2:21; 3:18. “Therefore let us go forth to Him, out side the camp, bearing His reproach.” Hebrews 13:13.
Disciples indeed faithfully fulfilled the Lord’s desire. They understood all that is involved in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ – of course the Spirit of God revealed it to them. Not only they experienced the benefit of it –forgiveness, access to God etc- they also proclaimed it ignoring all the difficulties. 1 Cor. 11: 26; 15:3; Acts 2:23. And they gladly followed the Lord in the path of sufferings. Acts 5:40, 41; Colo. 1:24; Phil. 3: 10.
As the world is remembering the agony of Christ, let us examine very closely, how much does it affect our day to day spiritual life? Let us remember the pain that He bore for us, live for Him and proclaim it to the world that deliberately ignores it. . If we don’t do it who else will do?