Jesus underwent great suffering for us during his Passion. The gospel readings on both Palm (Passion) Sunday and Good Friday tell the story of Jesus’ suffering from his entry into Jerusalem at the start of his final days through his Crucifixion. Knowing of Jesus’ suffering is key to us understanding his love for us and how He saves us. Because it is so important for us, the story of Jesus’ suffering is included in all four gospels.
I invite you to think about what the worst part (hardest) part of his suffering was.
He was beaten. Could you have endured the blows that Jesus took? He was scourged. Could you have enduring the number of whips that Jesus took to save us? As foretold in the fourth Suffering Servant prophecy in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Jesus was marred beyond human appearance.
After He was beaten and scourged, He was forced to carry the cross. The weight was so much that He fell three times.
His suffering was not just physical. He was stripped naked on the Cross. How would you have felt naked on the Cross as people looked at you?
Nails were driven through his hands and feet. Could you endure the pain?
While all this was going on, He was mocked. They placed a crown of thorns on him mocking him as a king. There would have been physical pain from the thorns pressing into his flesh. What about the verbal mocking? How hurt was Jesus by the fact they had refused to listen to him and could not understand what it means for Jesus to be our king?
Could you endure the pain of the Crucifixion itself? He was nailed to the Cross and left there. The weight of his body pulling down against the nails. As He tried to breathe, raising his lungs, gravity was pulling against him. It was very difficult to breathe. That is how crucifixion killed a person.
All of this would be difficult for anyone to bear. Yet, I am not sure it was the worst of it. In his book, The Passion and the Cross, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI (Cincinnati: Franciscan Media. 2015), discusses how Jesus was left “alone, misunderstood, lonely, isolated, without support” (the quote is from page 4, theme is discussed extensively over several pages).
How was Jesus’ Passion set into motion? He was betrayed by Judas, who was one of the Twelve Apostles. Have you ever being betrayed? Was it someone close to you? How awful did it make you feel? Was it worse than physical suffering?
During the Passion, Jesus was denied by Peter three times. Peter had been the one who identified Jesus as the Christ. Peter was chosen to lead the Apostles. Yet, even he denied Jesus in the face of trial. Jesus was abandoned by so many who had been his disciples until his arrest. How would you feel being denied three times?
Jesus was an innocent man who was condemned to death by those who misunderstood him. How do you feel when you are misunderstood?
Jesus suffered greatly for our sins. His suffering was so great that He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Mocked by many, betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and abandoned by many, Jesus suffered for us.
Jesus, I thank you for what you went through for me.
What do you think the hardest part of Jesus’ suffering was?