by Andrew Simcak
What thoughts come to your mind during this Lenten season when you think of the suffering of Jesus? As with many Christians, the first thing is probably the words we have said so many times when confessing the Apostles’ Creed: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate. …”
That definitely calls to mind the many physical sufferings Jesus endured on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The pictures we have seen so often, whether paintings by the masters from centuries ago or the unforgettable images from the movie The Passion of the Christ from two years ago, are locked into your mind’s eye.
Look at the following passages to try to understand the intense and brutal bodily suffering inflicted on Jesus under Pontius Pilate: Luke 22:44, Is. 50:6, Matt. 26:67, 27:26–29, and Luke 23:23.
But there is much, much more than the bodily suffering Jesus endured under Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, and his sadistic soldiers.
The Athanasian Creed opens up the full meaning of our Savior’s suffering when in it we confess, “He suffered for our salvation.” His suffering was not only physical in nature; more important, it involved our eternal salvation. “It is truly good, right and salutary …” that we consider the how, the why, and the full meaning of Christ’s suffering for our salvation.
His entire life on earth was a life of suffering, it was in reality a Passion Story. Let’s search the Scriptures to discover some of the suffering Jesus endured prior to Holy Week: Read Luke 2:7 and imagine the King of kings and Lord of lords being born this way for you and me.
Next, read Isaiah 53 for a powerful description of why Christ was “despised,” “rejected,” “stricken,” and “pierced.”
His greatest suffering for us was endured on Calvary’s cross as our sins and the sins of the entire world, past, present, and future, were transferred to Him. Read Matt. 27:46 to hear Jesus’ response to our sin laid upon Him.
Forsaken by God the Father is the greatest torment that He endured in our stead. Read 2 Cor. 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:18 to understand the reason for Christ’s suffering and desertion by His Father.
How grateful we should be that Jesus the Christ suffered for our sins as our substitute. With the Athanasian Creed, we humbly affirm and assure ourselves that “He suffered for our salvation.”