Jesus and Suffering
Exclusive Excerpt from The Fellowship of the Suffering
Thus, when Jesus began his public ministry, he announced the good news of the kingdom as one who had been personally and deeply affected by the hardship of this world. He carried the same burdens as his neighbors, and endured the same crises and heartbreaks. He was truly a man of his people, Israel, a nation whose given name means “struggle,” which characterized their calling and plight in the world. Out of this family and life of struggle, Jesus announced good news. Out of this pain, Jesus offered himself.
Perhaps the reason Jesus was so widely sought after throughout his ministry was not merely because of his compelling teaching or his miraculous healing powers, but because he understood the people he ministered to so intimately. People felt known by Jesus like they never had before. As the woman at the well said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” (John 4:29). Who of us can be known apart from our pain? Jesus knew the people he shared the good news with, because Jesus shared their pain.
Quite possibly, the most poignant, explicit example of how faith sharing is born first out of pain bearing is Jesus’ interaction with the thief on the cross. As Jesus endures the same, unimaginable capital punishment as these condemned criminals, it becomes clear to one of the two men that Jesus is not like them, or like anyone else for that matter. He is the Messiah. So with some of the last ounces of strength he has, this criminal cries out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answers, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). Just as Jesus was with this man in his suffering on the cross, so this man will be with Jesus in his glory. In the same way, could it be possible that the more we enter into and share the pain of our neighbors, the more our neighbors may have the opportunity to enter into and share the life of Christ with us?
*Taken from The Fellowship of the Suffering by Paul Borthwick and Dave Ripper. Copyright (c) 2018 by Paul Borthwick and Dave Ripper. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.www.ivpress.com