Summary: Is it possible for the Great Creator to suffer? Could He – the Most Delightful Being whom we can savor the unspeakable joy – suffer hardship, pain, or sorrow?
“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:19-24, NIV).
Is it possible for the Great Creator to suffer? Could He – the Most Delightful Being whom we can savor the unspeakable joy – suffer hardship, pain, or sorrow?
Why would He suffer? Could He not sanitize Himself from every form of suffering?
And if ever He suffered, could we picture or grasp completely how He endured it?
Perhaps, it is unimaginable that the Sovereign Comforter would ever suffer. But if ever He would, it would also beyond our imagination to contemplate how a Great Being like Him would suffer! We should not try to level “His pain” with our own pain – in the same way that we would not dare to compare our wisdom with His wisdom or to compare our limited human ability or power with His Divine Awesome Power.
God as a Spirit Being is not subject to the physical pain or difficulty that we, human beings, could easily suffer.
But we read in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (NIV). And in the first part of verse 14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. . . (NIV.)
The “Word” – who is Jesus Christ, was God (verse 1) and “became flesh…” (Though there are those who do not believe today that Jesus Christ is God, yet during the time of Christ, the Jews – though they refused to believe – clearly understood the claim of Christ Himself: “…you, being a man, MAKE YOURSELF GOD” [John 10:33]). As “Son of Man,” Jesus Christ was truly man. And as Son of God, He was God in the flesh – able to suffer what you and I could suffer.
Hebrews 2:17-18 states, “…he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (NIV).
Consider also the following Scriptures: 1 Peter 4:1 – “…Christ has suffered in the flesh…(NASU.) Acts 3:18 – Peter also said, “But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer” (NIV). Acts 17:2-3 – “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (NIV; also Acts 26:23).
Christ Himself told His disciples, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (Luke 9:22, NIV). “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation” (Luke 17:25, NIV; also Luke 22:15-16; 24:26, 46).
Jesus Christ did not cease to be God when He was tempted. He was God in the flesh when He suffered hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrow, betrayal, agony of facing His horrible fate and actually suffering the brutal crucifixion and ignominious death.
How did the prophet Isaiah describe the physical suffering of the Son of God?
We read, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him--his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- Isa. 52:14, NIV).
In chapter 53, we read: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed… He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53:3-5, 7-10, NIV).