Summary: Jesus took all our pains & sufferings to the cross, then what are we complaining about instead of thanking? - Especially since He also showed us how we bore the pain without taking even the analgesic (the vinegar & gall wine) offered?
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) - ‘If we are the children of God, then why do we suffer?’ retorted a friend of mine who is a staunch believer too.
Here is a reflection that endeavors to substantiate with a challenging answer to several of our frequent questions to God such as “Why do I Suffer like this, God?” or “How long more, Lord?” or even as some of us may brazenly quip “Why me, Why not Them?!”, etc., etc.
Ever since I received Jesus in spirit, I firmly believe that I’m totally led by the Holy Spirit on into a life whose peripherals are not defined by myself. I’m sure many of you would have also experienced situations wherein you were presented with options, choices & solutions of which you did not have a clue on your own. Jesus said “When he the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Faced with a Paradoxical Poser from a friend the other evening, I suggested to him to open the Bible at random and read the first verse that beholds him inside. And he read, “But the Lord said to Ananias, go this man is my chosen vessel to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15-16). As my friend read, a few words sprang up from the verse and hovered looming gigantically inside my mind – the first one was “This man is my chosen vessel” the next set of words were, “To carry my name” and the final set of the bewildering words were “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name”.
If anyone reads these words superficially, at first they may totally baffle the reader because, here the Lord was saying that ”My Chosen Man representing My Name” will be showed how much he would Suffer for My Name ! It is only natural that, the immediate reaction would be to find out a logical prognosis of why a man who was privileged to be exclusively “chosen” to be worthy by the Lord to represent & sanctify the Lord’s Glorious name, should “Suffer”? Furthermore perplexing would be the reason that these verses simultaneously convey a message of “Anointing” as well as, also a definitive message of “admonishment and Suffering”.
All of us are well aware of the anointed historicity of Paul and his phenomenal service in spreading the gospel of the Lord to the Gentiles and even to the Emperor of Rome and we also know of his legendary sufferings which culminated in his ultimate beheading at the command of Nero.
Analogously, another emphatic message of Jesus that requires an in depth spiritual insight can be readily accessed through Matt. 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His Disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. The Holy Spirit leads my soul to believe that by saying this, Jesus is preparing us with the spiritual courage and strength to face life’s periodic let downs that may strike alike the elite & the poor, the mighty & the weakest, etc. And Jesus also commands us to continue our spiritual callings despite our personal circumstances. Jesus by his own life set a benchmark for accepting God’s will in the face of acute agony and torturous pain which He suffered by rejecting an offer of wine laced with myrrh (Mark 15:23) which would have reduced his physical sensation thereby making him not to feel the full effect of the agonizing suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers. Let us solemnly revisit the nerve shattering scenario of the crucifixion wherein Jesus sets an exemplary example for us to face and bear our pains, problems, difficulties, tragedies, calamities, catastrophes & all the turbulent twists & turns of life cruelly enforces upon us:
The Son of God was stretched out on a cross and His hands and feet fixed to the cross by nails - that a cup of liquid was presented to Jesus. What was that cup? - We read in Mark that “they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh”. Wine and myrrh being substances which would speed the process and make the effect of the wine quicker. Matthew in his gospel account, tells us "they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink" (Matt. 27:34). Vinegar was a sour wine common among Roman soldiers of the Biblical Era and gall was a sedative drink made from gourds. Exactly what the liquids and chemicals were which made up this substance we cannot be sure. But we can be sure that the liquid was intended as an analgesic to relieve pain and as a narcotic or sedative to dull the senses. Drinking this would have the effect of drugging a person, making a person less aware of his surroundings and pain. Jesus tasted it. But He would not drink it, thereby demonstrating to us that He was subjecting himself to bear the ensuing pain and tortures in His human form willingly and also simultaneously establishes the supremacy of a strong and unblemished character by not succumbing to Satan’s temptations for sinning even in dire circumstances.