Christ’s Undeserved Suffering
What gives you your greatest encouragement? This morning we had another wonderful time at Truth Fellowship Live celebrating the Lord’s Table. We are different than many churches in that we use the entire service to “remember” the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This morning we were reminded of all the new things we have in Christ.
- We are new creations with a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4)
- We are sealed into a new covenant through His shed blood for us (Luke 22:14-20)
- We will partake in the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21-22)
But we must ask ourselves, “Why we have received such wonderful promises from the Sovereign Almighty Lord God?” We can celebrate all we have in Christ because He voluntarily left His place in Heaven to become the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin. In other words, Jesus went through the most horrible suffering so that we might be reconciled to God. His suffering was completely undeserved. We see this in 1 Peter 3:18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit… Peter had been discussing suffering for the sake of the Gospel in 1 Peter 3:13-17. Now Peter is turning to the underserved suffering of Christ (v. 18a). This develops into an involved treatment of the consequences of His suffering (vv. 18b-21) and concludes with a declaration of His triumph (v. 22). Concerning verse 3:18, J.M. Ross said that it is “one of the shortest and simplest, and yet one of the richest, summaries given in the New Testament of the meaning of the Cross of Jesus.” Peter wants his readers to know that suffering for righteousness brings them into close identity with the experience of their Lord and Savior. Suffering is not evidence of any wickedness within the sufferer. In fact, the most righteous suffer for the cause of Christ. In the same way, suffering does not indicate the cause for which on suffers is a bad cause. Again, those pursuing the most noble of causes often suffer for those causes. To demonstrate his point, Peter uses the suffering of Jesus, the Christ as an example of the righteous suffering for a righteous cause. So, what is unique about Christ’s suffering?
His suffering was purifying
All men are separated from relationship with God because of their sin (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Human sin caused hostility between God and man (Romans 8:7). This put all people under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; 2:5a). The penalty for this sin is death and eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23a). To deal with sin, God requires a perfect sacrifice. As previously seen, there is no perfect man…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Only the perfect man…the God-Man…could bring fallen man back into relationship with God. Jesus served as the perfect sacrifice required by a righteous God. Only Jesus, the Christ could satisfy the stand God has set. Romans 3:25-26 says, “…whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
His suffering is eternally effectual
Christ died once for all sins. If Christ had made repeated offerings, He would have had to suffer repeatedly (Hebrews 9:26). But now in this last dispensation, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Man is appointed to die once. In same way Christ was offered once to bear our sins. For that reason, we eagerly wait for Him to appear again, not to suffer for sin, but to bring our salvation. Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood; Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Saviour! —Philip P. Bliss What a savior indeed! When we trust in Christ alone for our salvation and we believe that Jesus is who He said He is…the incarnate God…then we are sealed by His promise. This is stated clearly in Ephesians 1:13 which says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…” God does not go back on His promise. Because He suffered for our benefit, we are sealed in God for eternity (John 3:16).
His suffering was substitutionary
Christ paid the penalty for our sin (Romans 3:24; 5:6) …He went to the cross. As such, His death was a substitute death for all (Romans 5:6; 10:13). There is no way we could die for ourselves. In our sin, we cannot satisfy God’s standard. The just died for the unjust. Jesus died for all of the ungodly…since all in their natural state are ungodly. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Jesus died for us. He died in our place. Why? I don’t know why! Certainly, there is nothing good in humankind to call for such an action. Suffice it to say that in God’s sovereign will, He made this pathway for us to be reconciled to Himself. For God so loved the world… (John 3:16) And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all… (Isaiah 53:6b)
His suffering brought reconciliation
Christ went to the cross that He might bring us to God. Christ’s substitutionary death rendered man savable (Romans 5:8, 10). Though we were sinners, Christ still died for us. We were enemies of God, but He still put in place the means for us to be reconciled to Him. And if He did that, He will see to it that we remain in relationship with Him. Once we have trusted in Christ, we are forever His. Our salvation is for sure and our eternal destiny is set. Nothing can the separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Since God has rendered us savable, we are justified before God by placing our faith…our trust…our belief…in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord (Romans 3:28). No longer are we under the law; we are now justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Only then, when a person believes in the work of Jesus, the Messiah are we reconciled to God (Romans 5:11).
His suffering resulted in His physical death
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1–3) Jesus existed from eternity past as part of the Trinity. Jesus…the Word…created all that exists within our universe. Nothing exists without Him. Yet, He became flesh and dwelt among us… (John 1:14). He was both God and He was man. At the cross, He sacrificed His humanity for our sake.
His suffering led to His resurrection
After the sacrifice of His human body, He rose from the dead. His physical death and resurrection are the heart of the method of how God reconciled us to Himself. Paul captures this truth in 1 Corinthians 15: Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:12–19) Jesus was resurrected and so we will also be reconciled.
The gospel message
So, in this one verse, we have the entire gospel message. When we trust in Christ we become a new creation and we will see the New Heaven and the Earth. With Christ:
- We are dead to sin (Roman 6:11)
- The hostility between man and God is removed (Romans 5:9)
- We are at peace with God (Romans 5:1)
- We are given a life of hope (Romans 4:17b; 5:2; 15:13)
- We are given eternal life (Romans 5:21; 6:23b)
- We will not be condemned (Romans 5:16; 8:1).
Have you trusted in Christ for your eternal destiny? If so, these are yours. If not, you should.  MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995. Print.