The Real Suffering of the Cross

With the celebration of the resurrection in our rear view mirror it is appropriate that we reflect on the theology of the event, much of which is overlooked. To do so it is expedient to look outside the gospel. We can look back to the Old Testament and forward to the Book of Acts and beyond to the narrative parts of the New Testament for details.           

The crucifixion and resurrection are inseparable events.

Romans 4: 23 – 25 frames the two. “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

The “his” in the text is a reference to Abraham who was justified by faith expressed in the foreshadowing events related to the cross.

Jesus’ crucifixion was necessary because of our offenses, sins that is.

His resurrection was necessary in order for us to be justified.

The resurrection of Jesus was God the Father’s seal of approval of God the Son.

Paul who was a witness of both the crucifixion and resurrection said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (I Timothy 1: 15)

Crucifixion was a devastating act of horror. The human body contains about a gallon and a half of blood. With the loss of 40% of it exsanguination sets in.  Death follows if the bleeding isn’t stopped and treated quickly. His was not.

All that Jesus went through leading up to the cross plus the actual act of crucifixion would have caused even greater loss of blood. This refutes claims that He only swooned and was refreshed and revived by being in the cool tomb.

In focusing on the horror and suffering of crucifixion the real suffering is often overlooked. The physical suffering is not to be minimized. However, there was even greater suffering experienced by Jesus. It was the spiritual aspect. For an understanding look back to Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This had a twofold meaning. Foremost, it was this separation for the Father that caused the greatest suffering. He was experiencing what those in hell experience, separation from God the Father. That was Jesus’ greatest suffering.

Secondarily, the cry had another application. In that era Scripture did not have chapters and verses. When a Jewish mother was teaching her children Scripture she would simply start the first part of the text and the child knew the location. In Jesus’ shout He was saying if you want to know what is happening here look it up in Psalm 22. Do so now.