Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jesus' Humiliation: Life of Suffering

In this posting we will look at Jesus’ life of suffering more generally. Many of the things He suffered are suffered by others too. For Jesus, this was humiliation. One of the thieves crucified with Jesus said:

We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. (Lk 23:41)
Physical and Soul Suffering

Jesus fasted forty days and nights. He was hungry. (Mt 4:2). He hungered at other times. (Mk 11:12-13; Mt 21:18) He became weary. (Jn 4:6) Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45), and he repeatedly wore himself out at it while being rejected, ridiculed, condemned, spied on, plotted against, threatened with death, abandoned, and crucified. He suffered “anguish of his soul.” (Is 53:11)

Immediate Attempts to Kill Jesus

It is amazing how much of Jesus’ life he lived under death threats. It began in infancy. King Herod tried to kill him. (Mt 2:16-18)

Opposition to Jesus began as soon as he started his public ministry. It grew as he ministered. There were significant moments when opposition increased suddenly. After only a few years, Jesus was crucified.

When Jesus began his public ministry, he went to Galilee, his home region, and Nazareth, his home town.

They rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (Lk 4:29)

On later occasions, crowds picked up stones to stone him to death. (Jn 8:59; 10:31) Jesus made a mission trip to Judea. He encountered opposition there too.

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. (Jn 7:1)

Occasions of Conspiracies against Jesus’ Life

Jesus healed the sick. Because he healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees conspired how to destroy him. (Mt 12:14; Mk 3:6) When he healed a man with a withered hand,

“They were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.” (Lk 6:11)

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, “some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” (Lk 11:46).  “So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well.” (Jn 12:10)

The supreme reason for wanting to kill Jesus was his claim of being equal with God.

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (Jn 5:18)

Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity. His claim to be equal with is Father was true. He was persecuted for the truth.

Jesus lived with spies trying to find ways to turn him over to death.

The scribes and the chief priests sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. (Lk 20:19-20)

Judas, one of the Twelve, betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Mt 26:48-49) for 30 pieces of silver (Mt 26:14-16).[1]

Condemnation and Contempt

In addition to these plots to kill Jesus, there was always someone treating him with condemnation and contempt.

How is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? (Mk 9:12)

They said:
  • He ate with sinners, implying that He must be a sinner. (Mt 9:11; Mk 2:16; Lk 5:29; Lk 15:1-2)
  • He led his disciples into defilement. (Mt 15:1; Mk 7:1-5; lack of hand washing)
  • He was a glutton and a drunkard. (Mt 11:19; Lk 7:34)
  • He was insane. (Jn 10:20)
  • He had a demon. (Jn 10:20)
  • He was possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, and had an unclean spirit. (Mk 3:22, 30)
  • He cast out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. (Mt 9:34; Mt 12:24; Lk 11:14-15)
  • He was a blasphemer. (Mt 9:3, his own town; Mk 2:6-7, Scribes; Lk 5:21, Scribes and Pharisees)
  • He was a Sabbath breaker. (Lk 6:1)
  • He led his disciples into Sabbath breaking. (Mt 12:3; Mk 2:24)

His own family said he was out of his mind.

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3:20-21)

Ridicule and Rejection

Jesus was ridiculed with laughter. (Mt 9:24; Mk 5:40; Lk 8:53). In his home town where they knew his family, they ridiculed him for his family’s low station, and they were offended at him. He could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Mt 13:53-58; Mk 6:3-5) The authorities ridiculed him for his lack of education. (Jn 7:15)

A Samaritan village would not receive him. The refused him lodging. (Lk 9:51:56) The Gadarenes begged him to leave their region. (Mt 8:34; Mk 5:17)

“Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him.” (Jn 12:37) He preached repentance, but the cities where most of his mighty works were done did not repent. (Mt 11:20)

“Not even his brothers believed in him.” (Jn 7:5)

The crowds said crucify Jesus, and give us Barabbas. While Barabbas was a particular, historical individual, his name says something about the rejection of Jesus. “Bar” means “son of,” and “abbas” means “his father.” What man is not the son of his father? This name signifies the most generic man you can imagine. In other words, “Give us anybody but Jesus.” “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (Jn 1:11)

His disciples abandoned him (Mt 26:56; Mk 14:50), and Peter denied him three times. (Mt 26:69-75)

His Broken Hearted Despair

The reproaches of sinners against the holy Servant of God fell upon him so fast, thick, and heavily that it broke his heart and humiliated him to despair.

More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother's sons.
For zeal for your house has consumed me,
the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none. (Ps 69:4, 8-9, 20)

Jesus suffered to the point of broken hearted despair. But he persevered so that he could give us a new heart and hope.


[1] The threat of death was constant. Here is a partial list of additional passages about attempts to arrest and kill Jesus: Mt 26:3-4; Mk 11:18; Mk 12:12; Lk 19:47; Jn 7:25; Jn 7:32; Jn 10:39; and Jn 11:8.


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