Tuesday, June 03 2014 @ 10:22 PM EDT
Recently I watched the movie, Son Of God. Toward the end of the movie I was deeply moved by the long portrayal of Jesus’ suffering, from his beating, to carrying his cross, and finally the crucifixion. I’ve seen a good number of movies and plays about Jesus but I was never moved so emotionally by a portrayal of the crucifixion like I was watching Son Of God. Why is that?
As Americans, we live in a sanitized and antiseptic culture. Everything is clean, orderly, and has its place; even our suffering. Most Americans don’t experience extreme brutality like Jesus experienced for us. And that got me thinking again about suffering.
What is suffering? More specifically, what does it mean to suffer for the sake of Christ? Immediately, we can put aside notions of suffering from sickness, accidents, or bad relationships. Everyone experiences some measure of physical and emotional suffering for various reasons. What I am referring to, specifically, is the biblical call to suffer for the Gospel, for the sake of Christ. But let me narrow it down further. I don’t mean suffering such as your teacher telling you that you can’t read the Bible during recess or forbidding you from writing about Jesus as the subject of an essay. Nor do I mean restrictions on speech that Americans regularly complain about regarding public expressions of religion. What I mean is the kind of suffering that Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles went through. The kind of suffering the early Christians endured. The kind of suffering Christians in the Middle East, Asia, and parts of Africa experience. To illustrate it graphically, I mean flesh tearing, hot iron branding, knife slashing, bone breaking, skin burning, bullet riddled suffering for the sake of sharing God’s love and forgiveness with the very people causing your suffering. In a word, I’m talking about nothing less than being brutalized for the sake of the Gospel. That is what Jesus suffered.
When we think of suffering, what do we think of?