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Catechism Class: LD15B Q37 – The DURATION of Christ’s Suffering.


Catechism Class

The Duration of Christ’s Suffering

LORD’S DAY 15, Q37.

The Apostle’s creed, being taught to us here by our instructor, simply states that Jesus was born, and he died and use again.  “Born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.”  It says nothing of his earthy ministry, his teaching, and his miracles.  That’s because in such a concise statement of faith, it needs to encapsulate quickly, the main purpose of Christ’s suffering, to redeem sinners, and that brings us right away to the cross. 

But our instructor would want to remind us that the suffering of the Saviour was not confined to the closing hours of his earthly life.  It began at Bethlehem, and it continued right throughout his life, until he was laid in the tomb and rose again.  ALL the time that he lived on earth, (including his birth) he was suffering for us.   Zacharius Ursinus,  in his commentary on the catechism, lists seven ways in which Christ suffered:

  1. He suffered in his humiliation.  In the very act of leaving his kingly throne, and laying aside his majesty, to come into this sinful world. Philippians 2:6-7  
    1. The second person of the Trinity, the Divine Logos, the One who created the world, the One who sits enthroned in spender, adored and worshipped by angels, who is from everlasting to everlasting, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, MADE HIMSELF of NO REPUTATION, and lowered himself from his highly exalted position to become a servant – δουλου – slave!  Try to imagine, if you can, the extent of that humiliation, his condescension.   The highest, most majestic king in the whole universe, the most glorious monarch ever, becoming a slave – and doing it VOLUNTARILY. ‘He made himself.’    
    2. There is one other point tat needs to be noted in the Condescension of Christ.  When he humbled himself to become a man, he voluntarily placed himself under the yoke of the law.   READ GALATIANS 4:4,  We are subject to the law, because the God who created us has the right to demand our obedience.  But Jesus IS THE CREATOR! He MADE THE LAW, to which in his condescension, he subjected himself.  Again note that this was a voluntary subjection, 1 Timothy 1:9   If the law was not made for a righteous man, – and Jesus was the ONLY man who was perfectly righteous,  then that law was NOT made for him, but for us, yet he voluntarily  placed himself ‘under the law’ – so that as he spoke at his baptism, “that the law might be fulfilled.”  Matthew 3:15   

So Jesus suffered, in the act of leaving his kingly throne, laying aside his majesty and blessedness’ and becoming a man, placing himself under the yoke of the law that he himself had written, so that he could as the perfect, sinless man be our representative on the cross.

  1. He suffered our fleshly infirmaries. – took our human flesh, and so became subject to all the ailments and afflictions of humanity.  He was hungry and thirsty, he suffered sadness and he wept.  The infirmity of our human nature which Jesus did not suffer, was sin.   He never needed to repent, hence the initial words of John at Christ’s baptism, in Matthew 3:13   The disciples that travelled with him never heard a sinful word, or witnessed a sinful act. See 1 Peter 2:22. Pilate, when condemning him to death, said, “John 19:6 … I find no fault in him.”  But most important of all, only of Christ, could the thrice holy God say, Matthew 3:17 …This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  
  2. He suffered extreme want and poverty.  Remember that all throughout his earthly ministry, Christ never had a home, or a place in this world to call his own. Matthew 8:20.    
  3. He suffered the vile contempt of men.  Ursinus puts it like this, “Infinite injuries, reproaches, calumnies, treacheries, envyings, slanders, blasphemies, rejections and contempt.”  What a summary of woe and suffering. Yet our Saviour has suffered all those terrible insults and attitudes, and bore all that suffering.  
  4. He suffered the temptations of the devil.  We all know the story of how, after his Baptism, Jesus was led away by the spirit into the wilderness be tempted by the devil.  Read Luke 4. There were three forms of temptation: 
    1. Hedonism, Luke 4:3-4- A desire for the excess pleasures of the stomach, including every sin motivated by a desire for pleasure, whatever the consequences.  
    2. Egoism, Luke 4:5-7  It’s the root sin of all those other sins that involve ‘me-ism’ – “Follow my heart” “narcissism” “I’m worth it…”. It’s all about ME.  And when the devil tempted Jesus, he suffered all those temptations. 
    3. Materialism.  Luke 4:9-11 The temptation that satisfaction in life lies in our possessions.  It’s the root temptation of all those who desire to find happiness in more – in a better job, more money bigger house, faster car, newest gadgets.  It includes covetousness, envy, jealousy…

Jesus suffered every kind of temptation, these three stated temptations are but a summary of every other temptation that we face, and struggle with, every single day of life.  Hebrews 4:15  

  1. He suffered the most reproachful and ignominious death.  He died on a cruel cross.  The most awful death that the wicked Romans could devise.  Philippians 2:8. 
  2. He suffered the wrath of God for our sins.  For as he died on the cross, God poured out upon his sinless Son, all the just punishment that was due for our sins.  READ Matthew 26:42, What cup was he talking about?  In Revelation, when we learn about the final judgement of God upon this sinful world, it is spoken of as a cup, of which the wicked must drink.  Revelation 14:10 It is the just judgement of God, upon a sinful and rebellious world.  But at Calvary, Jesus drank that cup for us.  He drank it all, every little drop, he drank it dry – all the bitterness and horror of God’s judgement for every sin we ever committed was poured out upon him, and he SUFFERED under the wrath of God for us.  1 Peter 3:18  It was this spiritual suffering on the cross that caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Yet at that very moment, as the sun was darkened and God turned away from him own Son, as he who knew no sin became sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:19 .   

Psalm 22:1-5,

1 My God, my God, O why have you
Forsaken and abandoned me?
Why are you far from giving help,
From listening to my anguished plea?

3 Yet you are holy: on the praise
Of Israèl you are enthroned.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
They trusted, and were not disowned.

5 They called, and you delivered them;
You listened to them when they cried.
Our fathers were not put to shame,
Because on you they had relied.

Jesus suffered, in both body and soul, bearing GOD’S WRATH that was due to us.    It began as the eternal Son of God, leaving the splendour of heaven, entered into this sinful world, and continued and intensified as His earthly life continued, and culminated upon the cross.

© Bob McEvoy – Podcast to be aired on 9th November 2021

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