The Suffering King of Glory

By Aaron LeDuc,

“If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?”

The age old question. A question that seems to simultaneously put God on trial and cast great doubt on the Christian life. A question that juxtaposes our experience as we walk through this life and the biblical claims of who God is and what He’s like. As we prepare to remember the atoning death of Jesus and celebrate His great victory over the grave, it would do us good to frame out the answer to this question biblically. In doing so, I believe we will be more able to delight in the wonder of the resurrection of our Lord this Sunday.

Easter Church Service

If we assume for a moment there is a creator God, it will help us to learn WHY He created us as we seek to understand the state of suffering that we experience. The WHY of our creation is a picture painted throughout scripture, but it is most concisely found in Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

Do you see the “why” there? We were created and chosen “in Christ” so that we might “praise His glorious grace.” So, God’s aim in creating us is that He might show us a display of His glorious grace. And if God is infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious, then we should expect a display of infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious grace. This display of grace is precisely the thing we are preparing to gather and remember this Friday: the death and suffering of Jesus. The God-Man Jesus Christ was born into this world of suffering to display God’s grace.

Suffering exists so that Jesus might display the infinite, lovely, and glorious grace of God by suffering to overcome our own suffering. In Romans 8 we learn that through sin entering the world, suffering and death entered as well. The creation of God was placed into captivity to this pain and suffering, longing for the redemption from God. Longing for grace. To be human is to long for the very thing we were designed to desire: Redemption. Grace. Glorious grace.

Isaiah says of Jesus:
   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
          he has put him to grief;
     when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

          he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
     the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
     Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
     by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
          make many to be accounted righteous,
          and he shall bear their iniquities.
     Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
          and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
     because he poured out his soul to death
          and was numbered with the transgressors;
     yet he bore the sin of many,
          and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:10-12)

Church Service on Easter

Without suffering in this world, Jesus could never suffer for us so that we might receive this graceful gift of God! But because we live this life of eager longing through suffering, Jesus was able to demonstrate to us the most wonderful, magnificent, and excellent display of God’s grace. The most undeserving sinners are given the perfect righteousness of the only one who suffered without deserving it. In His suffering Jesus took the very wrath of God away from us, He set us free from our bondage to sin, and He dealt the deathblow to death. And we praise Him for this. His glorious grace.

Join us this Good Friday as we remember and reflect on the suffering of Jesus, then join us on Sunday as we delight and revel in His magnificent resurrection. After Easter, we’ll begin a journey through the book of Job that will help us dive deeper into understanding suffering and the sovereignty of God. I hope you can join us for it all!

Holy Week: All Wrong

By Aaron LeDuc,

(This post is part of our blog series on Holy Week in preparation for Easter 2015.  Click here to find additional posts from this series.)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5 ESV)

Now, on Saturday of Holy week, the Eternal Word made flesh lay dead in a cold tomb, wrapped in burial clothes. The eternally existent God of all creation was dead.  Truly, fully, humanly dead.  

The gospels record very little of what happened on Saturday.  Most of the thoughts below are speculation, though I think they are a reasonable deduction of what happened on Saturday.

Surely the disciples were in hiding.  They were afraid of further reprisal for the work and words of Jesus.  After following Jesus for the last three years they are now abandoned, without hope, and unable to comprehend where their lives went so terribly wrong.  Saturday for them was probably spent in fear and worry.

Surely the religious leaders thought that they were done that rebellious Rabbi.  They still had his followers to deal with, but with the shepherd so go the sheep.  It would be an easy task to reaffirm their authority and to rid themselves of those blasphemers.  They placed a guard at the tomb so the disciples wouldn’t be able to remove the body of Jesus and fraudulently claim His resurrection.  There was some fallout to deal with, but they surely thought that this incident was behind them.

Surely Pontius Pilate and the other Romans went back to business as usual.  They’d dodged a riot by just giving the Sanhedrin what they wanted.  What is it to them to have put to death yet another potential contender to the power of Rome?

Surely the forces of evil were reveling in ecstatic celebration.  When Jesus died, a shriek of victory must have pierced the domain of the evil one.  They thought that the war was won.  

They were ALL wrong.

The war was won, but not for the powers of evil and the forces of wickedness.  What they thought was the death blow to the powers of good was their own downfall.  Their fates are sealed.

The power of Rome was nothing compared to the power that would be expressed by God through the resurrection of Jesus.  The might of that great kingdom would be eclipsed and the might of the true kingdom of God would grow ever stronger.  

The troubles for the religious leaders had only begun. Little did they know that by inciting the riotous murder of Jesus, they'd sparked a flame that would burn brighter than any other.

The disciples had no need for fear.  It’s understandable, but not warranted if they knew the whole story.  In one day their dashed hopes would be overcome by a face to face encounter with their Great Hope. 

All of these groups basically express a lack of faith, whether hard hearted, indifferent, or weak.  Even now, given the more full revelation of God that we have, we can relate.  We are prone to the same shaken and broken faith of the disciples.  We are prone to the same hardness of heart of the Pharisees.  We are prone to the same indifference of Rome.  We are prone to believe that evil has won.  

Let us be people who believe more deeply today!  May we ever remember our propensities to doubt and trust the power of our Great Savior!

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain,
Then bursting forth, in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!*

Don't forget to join us tomorrow (Easter Sunday) at 10am at the Lincoln Center Main auditorium as we celebrate the resurrection and Jesus's victory!  Click here for more details!

-Aaron

 

*From "In Christ Alone” - by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend - Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music