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What the Bible Says About
Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer?

"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust,
that He might bring us to God,
being put to Death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit"

(1Peter 3:18).

by Tom Stewart


Jesus had to Suffer because the intrinsic value of the Atonement for our sins is both in His Death and Suffering that culminated on the Cross, but especially in His Suffering. "4 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:4-6). After the Resurrection, Jesus reasoned with Cleopas and another disciple on the Road to Emmaus that it was necessary for the Messiah to have suffered in the fashion He did. "25 Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His Glory?" (Luke 24:25-26). Paul later reasoned with the Jews of Thessalonica concerning the necessity of Christ's Sufferings. "2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, 3 opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you, is Christ" (Acts 17:2-3). The word atonement in the Hebrew is cofer, which means cover, i.e., the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which was the Mercy Seat. "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an Atonement [Hebrew, cofer] for your sin" (Exodus 32:30). Scripture gives us to understand that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a reconciliation to favor (Greek, katallaga) of the Sinner to God by means of a substitution, change, or exchange (Greek, katallasso). "And not only so, but we also Joy in God through our LORD Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the Atonement [Greek, katallaga]" (Romans 5:11). "The Atonement is the governmental substitution of the sufferings of Christ for the punishment of sinners. It is the covering of their sins by his sufferings" (from Lecture 34 "Atonement" ---New Window of Lectures on Systematic Theology [1851] ---New Window by Charles G. Finney ---New Window). "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to Death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1Peter 3:18).

Suffering is the portion of the Godly.
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2Timothy 3:12). Christ Jesus, being at the same time very God and very Man, suffered in the flesh that His Humanity would learn Obedience to the Moral Law of Love. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He Obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). This process of suffering to learn obedience is the Practical Sanctification that all Christians must learn, as well. "4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is One LORD: 5 and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). However, Christ's Suffering on the Cross was more than Practical Sanctification, for it was through the "Once For All" (Hebrews 10:10) Atonement of Christ "Our Lawgiver" (Isaiah 33:22) that "we are sanctified through the Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 10:10). In the Counsels of God, it was deemed that the "Sufferings of Christ" (1Peter 1:11) on the Cross of Calvary could most wisely be substituted for the Eternal Damnation of sinners, thus preventing an infinite amount of suffering in those who would repent. "Christ also suffered for us... Who His Own Self bare our sins in His Own Body on the Tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto Righteousness: by Whose Stripes ye were healed" (1Peter 2:21, 24). The Sufferings of Christ Jesus in the Atonement demonstrated the determination of Christ the King not to yield the Authority of His Law, but at the same time manifested the "Love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:19) towards His undeserving, Hellbound, and rebellious subjects. "13 Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:13-14).

The Natural Love that we have for ourselves is a Universal Truth, for
"no man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Ephesians 5:29); and, Jesus the Son of Man was no different. "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). He had no special enjoyment of suffering, just as we do not enjoy suffering. "Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make Reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17). It is difficult for the Righteous to watch the Guiltless and Innocent suffer, because their suffering is our suffering. "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body" (Hebrews 13:3). Further, we have been advised by the Scriptures to remain "simple" concerning the specifics of the sufferings that evil men inflict. "For your Obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple [Greek, akeraion, harmless] concerning evil" (Romans 16:19). It was only the Providence of God that allowed the human mother of Jesus to be at the scene of Christ's Crucifixion, and one can only imagine the impression upon Mary as she beheld the Agony of her Son upon the Cross! Perhaps it was at that moment that Mary recalled the prophetic words of Simeon from the dedication of Jesus. "34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a Sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35). For those we love, suffering and even death for ourselves would be more desirable than to watch them suffer. But, Jesus willingly set His face like flint to suffer the Cruel Death of the Cross for friend and foe alike, e.g., the Roman centurion in charge of His Crucifixion exclaimed about the events and manner of Christ's Death on the Cross, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).

Imagine the situation from God's point of view. He created Humankind as Moral Agents, whose necessity is to always obey the Moral Law of Love, e.g.,
"35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great Commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the First and Great Commandment. 39 And the Second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:35-40). But, man has characteristically disobeyed God's Law. "For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The problem: How can God preserve respect for His Law of Love, which requires that all lawbreakers must be punished, i.e., "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20), while manifesting Love to the same lawbreakers? Unless there was an Atonement, God could not pardon Sinners without announcing to the world that His Law was worthless, since a law without a commensurate penalty is only advice. "6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I [Christ], Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy [the Father's] Will, O God. 8 Above when He [Christ] said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the Law; 9 then said He [Christ], Lo, I come to do Thy Will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. 10 By the which Will we are Sanctified through the Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:6-10). An Atonement was necessary to Justify God in His Pardoning of Penitent Sinners, if the object is to save the Sinner and return the ex-Rebel to a continual Obedience to the Moral Law of Love. "24 Being justified freely by His Grace through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation through Faith in His Blood, to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 to declare, I say, at this time His Righteousness: that He might be Just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

The value of the Suffering of Jesus Christ the Son of God is primarily in the subduing effect that it has upon the Rebellious, when they understand that it was for them that He suffered and bled and died.
"He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). Charles G. Finney [1792-1875] ---New Window, in his Lectures on Systematic Theology ---New Window, enumerated twenty-four reasons "why an atonement in the case of the inhabitants of this world was preferable to punishment, or to the execution of the divine law."


As distasteful as Suffering is to our Natural Love of ourselves, we ought certainly to be grateful that the All Wise God felt that our Salvation was worth the Suffering of His Only Begotten Son.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). How can we not love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and worship Him for now and forever, as we gaze upon the face of Him Who loved us so? "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1John 4:19). Until He comes for us, may we walk worthy of Him. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to Escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).

[Read Charles G. Finney's Lecture 34 on the "Atonement" ---New Window from his Lectures on Systematic Theology ---New Window for a better appreciation of the suffering of Jesus Christ in the Atonement for our sins.]


Next "What the Bible Says About..."

No Greater Love
This art print, "No Greater Love" by Robert Grace is provided courtesy of Christ-Centered Art ---New Window.

The Majesty of the Atonement of Jesus Christ ---New Window
Or, Christ's Humanity Provided an Atoning Sacrifice for the Sins of Mankind

by Tom Stewart
"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our LORD Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the Atonement" (Romans 5:11).
"At this moment, only a short time before the
'glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ' (Titus 2:13), it is a retrospective of awe and wonder that we would consider again the central, fundamental, and timeless theme of the atoning self-sacrifice of the Creator for the well-being of rebellious and sinful man... he most majestic act of God towards us was the Atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross for all mankind. So marvelous was this act of atonement, that the angels were quite eager to see how the LORD would handle it. 'Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into' (1Peter 1:12). Eternity cannot exhaust our study of the love of God that was manifested in His atonement for us."

The Amazing Humanity of Jesus Christ ---New Window
Or, The Benefit of Christ's Birth

by Tom Stewart
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,) full of Grace and Truth"
(John 1:14).
"The Old Testament of the Scriptures is replete with clues of God's purpose to redeem and govern mankind through the human advent of the Divine Son of God.
'6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this' (Isaiah 9:6-7). What astounds us is that the Son of God condescended to become a man-- to suffer all the difficulties of the flesh and the human condition, 'yet without sin' (Hebrews 4:15). Heaven will surely be filled with the Saints' praise and admiration for so bold an act of love that the Son of Man would become human flesh and then 'lay down His life for His friends' (John 15:13). 'Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you' (15:14)."

His Resurrection Is The Highest Proof That Jesus Is The Messiah ---New Window
by Tom Stewart
"What evidence should satisfy the most inquisitive mind that Jesus is the Messiah? All of humanity must be born into this world, and it will be by the hand of the Almighty that He will take us out of this world, i.e., 'And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this The Judgment' (Hebrews 9:27), so birth and death are common to man. However, who but God Alone has the Power to resurrect from the dead? 'God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that Power belongeth unto God' (Psalm 62:11). Even if a questioning mind could not settle whether Jesus resurrected by His own Power or whether it was the Power of the Almighty to resurrect Jesus from the dead, Why would Jehovah resurrect Jesus and thereby vindicate the claims of Jesus of Nazareth that He would Rise again after three days, unless Jesus is the Messiah? '3 Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our LORD, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 and declared to be the Son of God with Power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead' (Romans 1:3-4)."

What Happened in Gethsemane? ---New Window
by Tom Stewart
"The Garden of Gethsemane is best known to us for the scene of the betrayal of the LORD into the hands of the 'chief priests and elders of the people' (Matthew 26:47). Of the events prior to His betrayal that night in Gethsemane, we are called upon to consider the nature of Jesus' agony when He prayed, 'Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done' (Luke 22:42)."

Without Jesus, My Wage is Death ---New Window
by Katie Stewart

"Without Jesus, as my very
'Life', no amassed regretting, no mustered repenting, no aggregate of tears-- NOTHING I could ever do-- could EVER change the wage I had earned for the sin I had committed against God's Holy Law. 'Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be Justified when Thou speakest, and be Clear when Thou judgest' (Luke 20:21). My wage was rightfully-- Death. 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die' (Ezekiel 18:20). A Death which would forever separate me from the Creator of my soul. 'Commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a Faithful Creator' (1Peter 4:19)... Without Jesus Christ, we will pay our own sin debt, 'for the wages of sin is Death' (Romans 6:23). With the Atoning Work of the Cross that the LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ suffered, our debt of Death has been paid in full. He did that for us! As 'The Gift of God' (6:23), the Father has given Jesus Christ, His Son, to us. He is our 'Eternal Life' (6:23). And, dear reader, if you receive Him, this 'Life' begins in you NOW. You will live victoriously-- without sin-- ONLY if you live 'through Jesus Christ' (6:23). 'In this was manifested the Love of God toward us, because that God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him' (1John 4:9)."

What the Bible Says About Temptation ---New Window
by Tom and Katie Stewart

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).
"This is a study about understanding temptation, not simply because the Master enjoined, 'Pray that ye enter not into temptation' (Luke 22:40), but because we also desire to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in doing all that is humanly possible to prevent temptation from turning into sin. '10 With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy Commandments... 133 Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me' (Psalm 119:10, 133). From the first temptation of Eve in the Garden when the Serpent succeeded in causing our First Parents to doubt the love of God, to the final 'Hour of Temptation' (Revelation 3:10) of the Apocalypse, mankind has struggled, and will struggle, with the necessity to overcome temptation. Our present unwillingness to enter into temptation is the same unwillingness to enter into the 'Hour of Temptation' (3:10) soon prophesied to come upon this world. 'Because thou hast kept the Word of My Patience, I also will keep thee from the Hour of Temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth' (3:10). But, since 'all the Promises of God in [Christ] are Yea, and in Him Amen' (2Corinthians 1:20), we can lay hold of the Master's instruction to 'pray that ye enter not into temptation' (Luke 22:40), with the bold assurance that, indeed, 'sin shall not have dominion over [us]' (Romans 6:14)!"

Seven Reasons Why I Believe in
by Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley
New Window
"This vital consideration brings us to the fulcrum of the great operation of the Divine Revelation, to the centre of the vast circumference of Divine Redemption and to the very heart of the throbbing purpose of Divine Reconciliation. We come from the shallows of human speculation to the depths of divine revelation when we come to the Blood. We step at this juncture from the shadows of Old Testament typology to the blazing sunshine of New Testament theology. It is here we launch our souls from the shores of man's estimate into the boundless, tideless, endless sea of God's ultimate."

Seven Reasons Why I Believe in
by Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley
---New Window
"The Resurrection is essential to Christianity, for by it alone can Christianity be confirmed. The Resurrection is the great corroborator of the Christian gospel. Remove this keystone and the goodly temple crashes into ruin. As life is essential to living so the Resurrection is essential to a living Christianity. Take away the Resurrection and Christianity becomes a dead letter, but another contribution to the world's Pantheon."
"And if Christ be not raised, your Faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1Corinthians 15:17).

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