By Rick Lewers
The suffering servant
What would anyone know about my pain?
That's a question almost anyone could ask but for someone who is suffering and anguished, it is a question often delivered with anger, wanting answers and seeking hope beyond the darkness.
For someone not suffering it can be a question of avoidance or ignorance.
I want to offer, some thoughts for those who think the death of Jesus Christ is ridiculous or irrelevant to their suffering.
Before he was arrested and crucified Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, according to Luke chapter 22. This is not what kisses are for.
Many women have been betrayed by kisses and lost not only their virginity but also their sense of worth and capacity to trust.
Children have been crushed with disappointment by the kiss of a parent who promised so much and delivered so little.
After Judas' betraying kiss Jesus was abandoned by friends.
The testimony of his friend, Peter, after three years of intimate friendship was, "I do not know him."
That is not what friends do.
From birth to death our personal histories can reflect something of Christ's suffering.
Some of you may never have known your birth parents, left at the hospital to be adopted by strangers and living with a strange sense of disconnect.
Some know abandonment by mates in times of greatest need and the deep sense of loneliness that follows.
Bullied and beaten
Then Jesus the innocent healer, the teacher and forgiver was mocked, beaten and bullied to death.
"Bully" is a carelessly used accusation in these days of litigation but ugly when its truth is exhibited in playgrounds, homes and work places. God help those who make such false accusations. Like Jesus many of us will know what it is to be the unsolicited target of other people's evil.
In a court of law Jesus was falsely accused by religious leaders. The governors of the day found no charge against him, nothing deserving of death, but they signed off on his execution anyway to please the populace.
Many have felt the false accusations of others, either as the result of misunderstanding or worse by vexatious claim – helpless in defence and cheated.
Jesus replaced a guilty criminal in being crucified.
One of the big questions of those who suffer abuse is, "How come the guilty escape while I live with the outcome of their evil?"
There is no easy answer to this but the question resonates for us all and it is a question at the heart of Easter.
Why does the innocent Jesus suffer while the guilty Barabbas goes free? Why does the great Jesus Christ allow himself to be crucified if He is so great?
For Jesus the answer was clear: The righteous one must suffer in the place of the unrighteous, so that the unrighteous might be saved.
I am personally thankful for his short but very clear prayer in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them they know not what they do."
I have often heard people say, "What would God know about my situation?" I always want to say, "More than you give Him credit for."
Familiar with suffering
He is familiar with the betrayer's kiss, peer abandonment, bullying, innocent suffering and abuse.
In fact that makes Him familiar with all of us who have betrayed our Creator, abandoned His will for our lives, bullied Him out of our communities and abused the privileges given us as we abuse the relationships around us.
The astounding meaning of what Jesus did on this earth is that it shows God does know our situation and He understand and love you and me.
And as the righteous dies on the cross for the unrighteous he holds out forgiveness to the undeserving lot of us.
God harbours no bitterness, seeking instead to love and keep His arms open to those who do not seek Him, or may not want to, or who just think the whole idea is irrelevant.
Do you really want to think that when Jesus Christ suffered so much for you??