“Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things…” Luke 24:26-29.
There is a powerful challenge to our perspective that Jesus spoke of his own horrendous suffering and death in such a relaxed manner. Jesus’ attitude says to us: “Of course I had to be tortured to death and die in a humiliating gruesome manner.” It’s just kind of evident that he has come to accept it rather well.
I’m not sure I would be able to nearly as okay with the whole, being betrayed, denied, abandoned, beaten, and killed scenario. Personally, I think I’d still be resentful towards everyone involved, including these two with whom Jesus is walking and carrying on such a pleasant conversation. It’s rather remarkable to look at Jesus’ concern for these two. Instead of being critical of them and their part in all the suffering he had experienced, Jesus’ thoughts were about what had been accomplished to the glory of God.
There is a parallel to be had in our lives. The suffering and pains that are the most difficult parts of our lives are also the ones that have the most to do with shaping our relationship with God. It is through significant loss, overcoming painful or scary periods in our lives, or living through broken relationships that we come to know God’s presence and power. More importantly, it is through the practice of forgiveness that these painful experiences are able to become the source of a deeper relationship with Christ. This is not the wimpy: “Cheer up because something good will come out of this;” kind of tripe that is at times unwisely tossed in the direction of someone who is hurting. This is the triumphant realization that all of what is strong, wise, and capable within us came out of our moments of struggle and pain. We wouldn’t be the people we are today without the ugly stuff that we endured along the way.
So when Jesus is saying: “Was it not necessary that the messiah should suffer…” he truly has a perspective of recognizing what his suffering accomplished. Is it necessary that we should have suffered when we are rejected, or betrayed? Is it necessary that we have to suffer illness, injury, and death? Is it necessary that we should struggle with challenges and difficulties that overwhelm us? Well, yes and no. It is through these things that we come to know wisdom and it is when these things are happening that we are most able to share Christ’s love. It is when things are going terribly wrong that we are able to serve Christ most fully. Is it necessary from God’s point of view/ – that’s a tough one. But what is certain is that Christ’s suffering was a necessary part of ending the separation between ourselves and God. It is in our own suffering that we step across that gap, and come to know God more fully.
So as Easter continues, I hope you will have time to reflect on some of the harder roads that you have walked. I hope in that time, you might celebrate the growth, wisdom, and knowledge of God that came as a result of those pains and hardships. And in that way, take time to rejoice in what has been accomplished through God’s love and grace.