The very first instance of the gospel recorded in the Bible connects suffering to salvation. In Genesis 3:15 as God curses the serpent he promises a deliverer who will suffer, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The “bruised heel” is a promise of a suffering redeemer. The prophet Isaiah looks forward to a deliverer who is a sufferer, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53) Jesus made it clear to his disciples he was the One appointed to suffer: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21)
SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 27:27-30
Peter’s reaction to Jesus in Matthew 16 perfectly captures what everyone was thinking: the Savior would be a conqueror, not a sufferer. Peter didn’t understand because he, like us, didn’t understand (or didn’t want to understand) that suffering is part of God’s salvation process. But, the history of Israel teaches us, and the Scriptures are clear: “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Jesus endured beatings, ridicule, spit and thorns. He suffered because suffering is a promised part of God’s salvation plan.
CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank You for suffering for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin.”
ADULT’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank You for suffering for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin. Please help me always remember that my sinfulness is the cause for your suffering. Give me eyes to see how desperately sinful I am so that I can see how deeply you love me.”