This is Part 2 of 2 parts answering the question, “Did Jesus suffer like we suffer?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”
Jesus’ Suffering was Vicarious
The suffering that Jesus went through was vicarious, which means that He took upon Himself the suffering we deserve. He was our substitute for the real suffering because of sin. Do I mean that there is suffering different than what you might be experiencing on earth now? Yes. Exactly. There was a worse suffering that no human being has ever and will ever experience (although the unbeliever will experience a taste of that horrendous separation suffering in eternity).
Six hundred years before the birth of the Lord Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote about how He would be our Substitute. And because God is holy, the penalty for sin was far greater than any human can fully understand. Isaiah wrote,
4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 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. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. (Is. 53:4-7 NKJ)
We need to note several principles from this passage. First, the Lord Jesus “bore our griefs.” He didn’t carry the griefs for just a few people or even the people of a particular generation. He carried the griefs of every person in the human race. Who but the Lord Jesus could carry that?
Secondly, He bore the “chastisement for our peace.” Jesus not only took upon Himself the penalty we deserved for our sin, but restored us to full fellowship with the Father. He completely removed this penalty through His suffering, so that we could have peace. In fact “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” The Father chose to crush the Son instead of us for the penalty of our sins. Who but the Lord Jesus could remain faithful during that?
Thirdly, the Father laid on Jesus “the iniquity of us all.” I’m not sure what it would be like to bear the penalty for another person’s sins, but imagine what this punishment would have been like to bear the iniquity of us all – the whole human race (1 John 2:2)! Who, but the Lord Jesus, could endure that? He did!
Jesus Suffered in All Points as We Do
Though the Lord Jesus suffered, let’s remember the encouraging words of the writer to the Hebrews:
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16 NKJ)
The Lord Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, which means He suffered in all ways as we are and do. Yet He has the substitutionary aspect of carrying the suffering of the human race.
We are able to join in that suffering (Phil. 3:10), but we never can or could come close to the suffering to which Jesus endured.
Did the Lord Jesus suffer like we suffer? Absolutely, and far beyond what we could ever imagine. God is infinite and our sin was against an infinite God, which meant it required an infinite payment, of which we could never come close to understanding or paying for that. The Lord Jesus was the only one, because He was the unique God-man of the universe.
1) Have you ever been in the hospital and had to rate your suffering level on a scale of 1-10? Did that value fluctuate?
2) Why do you suppose that the suffering we endure often seems greater than what other people endure? Why does it seem that a spouse can think he is suffering more than his spouse?
3) How do you think you could enter into another person’s world of suffering when you are already suffering?
4) How would you describe to a young disciple, the suffering Jesus endured?
5) What are five different ways you should respond to the Truth that Jesus was your substitute to the Divine suffering that you deserved?