When you hear the word suffering, nothing good ever comes to mind.  Nobody uses the word suffering to describe something good.  Nobody says, “I suffered a really good day,” or “I suffered through eating that good BBQ.” When we ascribe that word to something we typically use it to describe something tough to go through.  For example, you all know I’m a big fan of Atlanta sports, and I have had to suffer through all kind of losing, mediocrity, and nonsense with Atlanta sports for the past few years now – it’s getting tiring! I don’t there are too many fanbases out there that suffer as much as we do.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

Here we are on this Palm Sunday with our Savior in mind.  I’ll tell anybody right quick that Palm Sunday is arguably my favorite Sunday of the year.  I absolutely love Palm Sunday.  I think about Palm Sunday and I see my Savior triumphantly riding into town on a donkey as kings would do during those days.  I think about Palm Sunday and try to imagine all of the shouts of Hosanna that filled the streets of Jerusalem.  It was only recently, when I begin to take my faith more seriously, that I began to develop a different kind of love for Palm Sunday.  Palm Sunday, the beginning of Jesus’ final week of work.  Palm Sunday, the beginning of the passion of our Savior.  It is when I grew to understand the true passion of Christ that my love for this day grew exponentially.

The Passion of Christ

The stage had been set for when Jesus entered into Jerusalem that last time.  He rode into town with the treatment a king would receive, and His disciples, you could imagine, probably had their chest stuck out with huge smiles on their faces.  The people of Jerusalem were out in the streets shouting out praise to their Rabbi, and was waving their palm branches.  You remember what it looked like when the Pope came to the states, and how the folks were gathered out in the streets?  The scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem was far more vibrant and enthusiastic I believe; it was a truly joyful moment for the people and for the disciples.

If this was a TV show, I would do a flashback to hours, days, or weeks prior to when Jesus forewarned the disciples just at this moment when they’re all smiling and waving.  In Luke 18:31-33, we see Jesus say this –

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Now I am not a rocket scientist, nor am I any kind of genius, but there is nothing about that passage of scripture that makes it seem like this next trip to Jerusalem was going to be a fun one for Jesus.  What sounds fun about being mocked, insulted, or spit on? Nobody takes a trip anywhere to be mocked and insulted.  What sounds fun about being scourged (whipped), and then killed?  Look, again I am no genius, but nobody takes a trip anywhere to be whipped and then killed.  That sounds like the worst possible trip one could ever take, especially considering that the trip ends in death.  Let’s establish a fact here:,Jesus knew that He was headed to Jerusalem to suffer.  Jesus knew that His time of suffering was at hand.

The prophecy of the suffering servant

The suffering servant was a prophecy Isaiah prophesied about well before Christ’s time, hundreds of years.  In the prophecy of the suffering servant we see that this servant would be despised and rejected; we see that this servant would be wounded, bruised, chastised, judged, and killed.   Again, I point out the fact that there is nothing that sounds good about what that servant would have to go through.  Nobody wants to be despised or rejected, right?  Who wants to be wounded, bruised, chastised, judged, and killed? This servant was going to suffer. The eunuch of Ethiopia (Acts 8:26-40) needed to know who was such a man that would take on such a burden, the prophet or some other man?

Phillip, the disciple, taught the eunuch of the suffering servant named Jesus.  The man who rode into Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna, and knew He was headed there to suffer a great deal.  Phillip taught of the man who was betrayed by one of his own and then arrested.  Phillip taught of the man who was judged by Annas, by the Sanhedrin council, by Pilate, and then by the people who wanted Him to be crucified.  Phillip taught of the man who was then scourged, beaten, crowned, and then hung to die.  Every time I think of the suffering of Jesus Christ, there is a part of me that can’t stand to think about what Jesus suffered.  I begin to wonder, why Lord why?

Why Lord, why?

Why did Jesus have to be despised and rejected, for me?  Why did Jesus have to be whipped, for me?  Why did Jesus have to be crowned, for me?  Why did Jesus have to suffer me?  I am nothing but a sinner, why would He lay down His life for me?  At times I feel, deep down on the inside, that I am not even worthy of saving.  At times I feel, deep down on the inside, that I am not worthy of another man suffering for me!

There was nothing pretty about the Roman crucifixion process; it was a completely cruel and gruesome way for a man to be executed – that was the intention.  The Roman crucifixion, you will remember, was meant for criminals and those that acted against Roman authority.  The criminals were scourged and beaten, and forced to bare a crossbeam through the streets of Jerusalem; this was a process to humiliate those that acted against Rome.  The humiliation continued when the criminals were hung on a cross where they would hang for hours and days as a sign of what happened when you defied the authority of Rome.  I scratch my head and wonder why did Jesus have to take on the treatment of a criminal when He knew no sin?  Why did Jesus have to be mocked and humiliated in such fashion when He knew no wrong?

He suffered for me

The answer always seems to circle around to one fact, and that fact is that God loved this world so much that He gave us His Son.  God gave us Wonderful.  God gave us Counselor.  God gave this world the Prince of Peace.  The Son of God came to this world teaching, not hell and condemnation, but the kingdom of heaven and seeing God!  When you look at how often Jesus taught of God and His heavenly kingdom, you slowly begin to realize just how obsessed God is with His children.  God is absolutely obsessed with His children – He loves His children a great deal! He loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son to suffer for us!  God loves us so much that He wants us to come home and live with Him, not for just a little bit, but for all of eternity!

The one thing about entering into a person’s house is that you can’t enter in a filthy mess; try to go into somebody house a dirty mess and see how far you make it.  We like to try and keep our houses as clean as possible, guess what?  God is not going to allow folks to track mess throughout His house.  God is not going to allow you to even enter into His house a mess.  For His children to come back home, God needed for them to be clean and spotless.  Man needed to be cleaned.

Man needed to be cleaned from all of the false and misleading teaching that had been going on in the world.  Man had gotten filthy and covered in dirt by the foolish and false teaching that had been going on.  Man needed to be cleaned from all of the transgressions, iniquity, and unrighteousness.  Man needed to offer up some kind of sacrifice that could cover up all of our wrong doing, but there was not a man walking this world that could do such a thing for mankind.  Enter the suffering servant.

Jesus covered up that false teaching with the preaching of the gospel of His Father and His kingdom.  Then, as it says in Isaiah’s prophecy, our Savior was wounded for our transgressions.  Our Savior was bruised for our iniquities.  Our Savior was chastised for our peace.  Through the stripes, through all of the scourging our Savior suffered, we were healed (spiritually).  Jesus then bared that cross along, hung on that cross, and then suffered the ultimate punishment as God put all of His wrath on Him.  At the cross, where my Savior died, He experienced His Father abandoning Him because He had become what His father despised most – sin.  At the cross, where my Savior died, He suffered the second death when He was no longer in the presence of God.

Thankful for the suffering servant

Jesus, the suffering servant, suffered all of this so that I don’t have to suffer the same.  I tell you today that the our Savior suffered these things so that we don’t have to suffer for once being sinners.  We don’t have to suffer God’s wrath because Jesus already suffered for us.  We don’t have to suffer the second death because Jesus already suffered for us.  Through the suffering of Christ we don’t have to suffer because we are covered by the blood of Christ.  We, and all of the people of this world, offered up the Lamb of God and can be covered by His blood if we believe on Him.

They whipped Him all night long, for me, that’s what we sing.  The blood came streaming down, for me.  He hung His head and died, for me, that’s what we sing.  Jesus became the suffering servant for me and for you, and for all of us that believes in Him.  We were healed through His suffering, and saved by His blood.  Through His suffering came a good thing.  We hardly ever think that good can come from suffering, right?  Good came from the suffering of Christ, and in that here is why I love Palm Sunday so much.

Jesus didn’t have to go riding into Jerusalem on that day.  Jesus could have chosen, as His disciples had wished, to stay away from that city.  I love this day so much because Jesus chose to continue to move forward towards His destiny.  I love this day so much because chose, on that day, to stay on that donkey and ride towards His suffering like the King He is.  Jesus is my King!  My King chose on that day to suffer for me and I am thankful that He did! I am thankful for the suffering servant.

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