Imagine if one of your best friends betrayed you to death. For Jesus, this happened in Gethsemane. It was here that Judas kissed Him, marking Him for arrest by those from the chief priests, scribes and elders. As He was taken, the Bible tells us that Jesus was completely abandoned by His followers.
- “… they all forsook Him and fled.” – [Mark 14:50]
- “… Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” – [Matthew 26:56]
It is also interesting to see what Jesus says to those who are arresting Him at this time.
“Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled…” – [Matthew 26:55-56]
REFLECT: The gravity of Jesus’ suffering
In the time leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus experienced humiliation, pain, and betrayal. Sometimes we gloss over the suffering of Jesus. At the cross, the weight of every person’s sins, past, present and future was laid upon Him. It is hard for us to comprehend that. Even on His journey to the cross, Jesus suffered. Can you think of any examples where Jesus experienced suffering? How did He respond?
Here are some other moments of suffering Jesus would have experienced.
- Accusation from the chief priests before Pilate
- The vehement cry of the crowd for His crucifixion
- The physical pain and humiliation of being stripped, whipped, and crucified
- The mocking gesture of a crown of thorns, and the taunts of the soldiers
Isaiah 53 gives a sobering image of the suffering, yet glorious Christ.
“He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”
– [Isaiah 53:3-6]
Jesus’ response to His suffering was to remain focused on the Father’s purpose for His life, to forgive those who persecuted Him, and to allow the testimony of God to be His defense. In Jesus’ example, we are given instruction and encouragement to persevere through our own times of tribulation. Romans 8:16-17 says:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” – [Romans 8:16-17]