Jesus Christ: Our Model of Suffering

We must remember that in the Scriptures, we read of God’s people undergoing tremendous ordeals, individually and as a nation


By Donald Whitchard

John 18,Isaiah 50:6,Isaiah 53:3,Zechariah 13:6,Luke 22:44,Hebrews 2:10,Hebrews 5:8,1 Peter 2:21,1 Peter 3:18


Summary: In the eighteenth chapter of John’s gospel, we are presented with the beginnings of the sufferings that the Lord Jesus would undergo for the sake of our redemption, paying a debt He did not owe for fallen humanity who could never pay it.


Several years ago, I came across a televangelist who peddled the ungodly “word-of-faith”, or “prosperity” gospel that is poisoning the body of Christ in these last days.  One of the “sales pitches” (and that is the only means by which I can define it) these folks love to use is to promise a lifetime of wealth, blessing, and perfect health that is guaranteed by their version of “Jesus” (Matthew 24:5, 24; Mark 13:6, 22; Luke 18:8; Galatians 1:8-9), and if you or a family member does get sick, it is because you lack true faith and fail to plant a “seed” into these huckster’s so-called “ministries.”  This “preacher” declared before his audience that “he doesn’t allow suffering to come into his home.”  Obviously, this dude was not living in the real world and was also peddling a lie from the pit of hell.  What he “proclaimed” was plainly unbiblical and nothing more than a false gospel that has left far too many people to drown in an ocean of skepticism if not hatred for anyone attempting to present to them the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ.  He does promise the joy of salvation and eternal life, but also hardships, adversities, and suffering that make up a large portion of the Christian life.

It is through times of travail and hardship that we learn the lessons of faith in God as well as maturity in our walk with Him.  As of now, I am personally enduring continual headaches and the after-effects of a brain stem stroke I had in 2020 along with kidney failure and a host of other medical problems.  I’ve also had to go through the agony of losing a child, personal injuries sustained at varied jobs in the past, and a host of other unfortunate events over the course of my life, and doubtless you who are reading this have undergone a host of difficulties and setbacks as well (Galatians 6:2).  It is normal to wonder why such things happen, especially those of us who have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are obeying His call upon our lives, yet face persecutions, setbacks, hatred, and other fiery darts thrown at us by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

We must remember that in the Scriptures, we read of God’s people undergoing tremendous ordeals, both as a nation and as individuals (Matthew 5:11, 10:22, 39, 19:29; Acts 9: 16; Romans 8:17, 36; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; James 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20, 3:14, 4:16, 5:10).  The book of Job is one of the greatest word pictures and example of suffering that seems to make no sense until Job faces God, who shows his servant that it is He who determines the course of our lives, that He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and can show why problems happen, or He does not, such is His will (Job, Chapters 38-42).  The point is that in all of Job’s trials and complaints, he never lost his faith in God and was blessed afterwards as a result.  God uses His people as object lessons sometimes, and it is one of the methods He uses to get our attention and to take our eyes off of ourselves.  We are to focus on Him and His guidance by His Word and His ways.

I bring all of this to your attention to show you that suffering is not a foreign concept to God Almighty, who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be one of us and undergo the trials and problems we face (Hebrews 2:10, 5:8, 13;12; 1 Peter 2:21, 3:18).  He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit had put the mission of our salvation into place before the very foundation of the world (1 Corinthians 2:7-9; Ephesians 1:3-4; Colossians 1:15-16) due to our choice to disobey God by our rebellion against Him at the dawn of history (Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:6-15).  He provides the gift of salvation to anyone who calls on Him (Isaiah 40;5; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 3:6; John 10:27-29, 11:25-26; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Peter 3:9).  In our journey through the Gospel of John, we have come to the place where the sufferings of Christ for the sake of our redemption begins.  Beginning in Chapter 18:1-11, we are exposed to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot as he approached Him in the Garden of Gethsemane (vv.1-3), bringing with him soldiers bearing torches and weapons ready to put down any trouble or resistance.

The Lord Jesus in His role as God Incarnate, had all things under His control, even in this potentially hostile encounter.  He asked the soldiers who it was that they are seeking.  He answered their question with the words, I AM HE! (vv.4-5).  He used His royal title and authority to cause these soldiers to draw back and fall to the ground (v.6).  He had all the authority to destroy this world at that moment if He so willed, and no one could object or thwart Him if He chose to put it into place.  He will bring this present world and universe to an appropriate end (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 20:11), but for now He was willing to let the redemptive mission commence.  (I should note that the actions of the soldiers in falling down before Jesus is not a “proof-text” for the false teaching of being “slain in the Spirit” practiced in some charismatic churches today.  That practice has no Scriptural support of any kind.)

Jesus told the guards to let His disciples go (vv.8-9), but Peter, acting on an impulse, attempted to kill one of the high priest’s servants, but succeeded only in cutting off the man’s ear.  In an act of undeserved compassion, Jesus healed the man (Luke 22:50-51) by restoring his ear.  Yet this had no effect on the other soldiers and officials, and for now there would be no turning back, no chance to escape, no opportunity to try and explain things to a group who were now consumed with what can only be described as demonic hatred for the very God they believed was appeased by their dead formalities and empty worship.  The Pharisees, chief priests, and tragically most of Israel chose to remain deliberately deaf, mute, and blind to the obvious fact that God Incarnate was among them.  They loved their traditions and in reality, hated God.  As Jesus was led away to face the religious leaders as well as the ruling political leaders Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas, He would experience injustice on display.  We are no better.  Even now there are churches and ministries who secretly despise the Christ of Scripture and the truth of salvation only through Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-8).  We take our faith in Christ far too flippantly, forgetting the fact that the suffering He would endure was for our unworthy, sinful, reprobate hides who deserve hell, not mercy.  Think on that the next time you have troubles.

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Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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