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Opening Question

Why did God allow Jesus to suffer so much?

This week, we finally take time to focus on Jesus Christ’s own suffering. In reality, this subject should be the guiding principle of the entire quarter. It is God’s experience of suffering through the person of Jesus, and the Father’s pain in giving Him up, that give us the greatest example to follow. We know our pain is understood, that our Creator is not separated from our or griefs and pain.

The Servant
More than 600 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied that God’s “servant” would suffer and bear the sins of humanity. Read through Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This passage is the very one the Ethiopian Eunuch was studying when Phillip was sent to give him understanding about the sufferings of Jesus (see Acts 8). One of three servant songs in Isaiah, this one says the most about the Messiah’s struggles.

Read through this passage, then note how many times suffering, death or pain is mentioned. How does this passage open your eyes to the reality of Jesus’ experience?

Jesus’ Life
The life of Jesus was not an easy one. He saw everywhere the effects of sin in nature, but especially in the people made originally in the image of God. He dealt with disease and death, demon possession, physical deformities, addictions, and immorality, religious, sexual and ethical. There are several places where we see Jesus weeping (at the tomb of Lazarus and when he came into Jerusalem in Luke 19:41), but never laughing or smiling. Isaiah 53 says Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

What broke the heart of Jesus most during his years of ministry?

Jesus’ Death
At his death, Jesus quotes from Psalm 22. The fact that the opening words of the Psalm make up one of the last seven statements of Jesus from the cross invite us to look at the entire song. Read through it, then answer the following questions:

In what ways was this Psalm fulfilled in Jesus’ death?

What metaphors are used that are meaningful? How do “wild animals” surround Jesus on the cross?

The Cause of Death
Jesus was crucified. Victims of this form of torture typically die of asphyxiation after 2-3 days. But Jesus dies much more quickly. This surprised the on lookers. It had only been a few hours, but Jesus was already gone. His death is confirmed by the Roman legionnaire’s lance driven into his heart, a wound He would never feel.

So if Jesus did not die from the crucifixion and Roman instrument of torture, how did He die? Scripture says he gave up His spirit, that He willingly brought his life to an end. But surely there is more.

How do Jesus’ words on the cross express the pain he suffered? What was significant about His relationship to His father while on the cross?

Did Jesus die as a righteous man or a sinner’s death?

Closing Comments: Sunday’s Coming
While the quarter has been about suffering, it does not seem right to speak about the death of Jesus and His suffering without the reminder that the death of Jesus is the start of real life. The words of Hebrews seem a perfect place to end:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 1fixing our eyes on Jesus, the 2aauthor and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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