How many people do you know that would suffer gruesome torture and death for you? I would suspect not many, if there was anyone at all. Yet, Christ suffered for us, and the truth is that we don’t even really understand the magnitude of the suffering Christ endured for each of us and for mankind in general.
When we think of Christ, it is generally after He came to live among us. We think of the baby Jesus, the man Jesus, the miracle worker Jesus, the teacher Jesus, and the Jesus that died on the cross, who was buried and rose again. We think of Jesus as we see Him portrayed in movies and TV, as a Man. As believers, we also think of Him in His risen and resurrected glory. This is the Jesus we normally think of. But that is a very limited view of our Lord. Jesus Christ was much more than that.
I love the description that John Phillips gives of who the Lord Jesus really is. I am paraphrasing here, but he says that the Bible gives us a picture of who the Lord Jesus was way back before time ever began, dwelling in a light unapproachable and living in perfect harmony with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in unimaginable glory. He was uncreated, self-existing, coeternal, coequal, and coexistent with the Father and the Spirit. He was, and is, God the Son, the second person of the triune Godhead. His wisdom was infinite, His love fathomless, and His power without measure or end. His nature and attributes were those of the living God. He basked in the sunshine of the Father's love in endless delight. Eternal ages rolled by without end. All was love, joy, and peace, beyond all imagination or thought. And then, in the council chambers of eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit agreed that They would act in creation. The Son was the active agent.
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
All things were created by Him. John tells us the same thing.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The Son put forth His wisdom and His power, and hosts of angels appeared, rank upon rank. Galaxies of stars sprang into being and filled space with billions of centers of light. Planet Earth, a bright blue sphere in the Milky Way, was chosen to be the home of man. Life, in a countless variety of forms, appeared at His command. Man was created and became another exhibit of the Son’s wisdom and power.
This is the One who willingly chose to step down from His throne in heaven and come to earth as God incarnate in man in order to suffer for us because sin raised its head in the universe and was transplanted to Earth. Adam fell. Sin entered, and death by sin. Now the Creator must become the Christ. Prophet after prophet arose to foretell the coming of a Kinsman-Redeemer, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.
So God's Son became the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David. He was to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He was the Child born and the Son given. He was called the Wonderful Counselor, the Father of eternity, the Mighty God, the Prince of peace.
He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the Lord's Anointed, Prophet, Priest, and King. Page after page of the Old Testament told the story. Book after book was written, all about Him. Detail added to detail increased the wonder of it all. He stood apart from all others, robed in majesty, the altogether lovely One, and the chiefest among ten thousand, the One who suffered for us.
Peter saw it happen. He was an eyewitness of much of it. The suffering began when Jesus was but eight days old. He was circumcised. It was His first personal experience of pain. He grew up. He began His ministry. He suffered at the hands of the people He had come to save. He knew loneliness, rejection, and malicious hatred. His family disbelieved His claims. His disciples let Him down. Peter himself denied Him with oaths and curses, and Judas sold Him for a pocketful of change.
He wept His heart out in Gethsemane. He was falsely accused, beaten, and abused by His own people, then He was mocked, scourged, and crucified by the soldiers of Rome. He endured the torments of death on a cross. Finally, He was made sin for us and abandoned by God.
Peter says, Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. As believers we are the apprentice and Christ is the Master Carpenter. He is our example of how to live the life of a victorious Christian. He is our example of how we are to react to suffering, living in a moment-by-moment cooperation with the indwelling Spirit of God.