The Suffering God

by Donald G. Hayter

IT is the sufferings of God's Son, and His resurrection, which enable God to justify sin and the sinner, for us now through faith and eventually for all at the consummation. We are justified in His blood. By this bold figure of speech, in which the seat of all sensation, the blood, is used, the agony of Christ is suggested. He suffered throughout His life on earth, the climax being reached in His ordeal of desertion by His Father. Before this, He had sweated as it were great clots of blood as He prayed in the garden in the anguish of His soul. He knew the awfulness of the ordeal that was before Him. He was aware of the immense load of suffering involved in being made a sin offering for our sakes. The burden of mankind's sins that He had to bear bore down upon Him and wrung His soul in agony.

       This anguish in the garden was a part of the sufferings by which we are justified. It was not the physical torture that He dreaded. This He could face, for He was, above all men, the most courageous, indomitable and resolute. He did not dread the thorns piercing His brow or the nails tearing His hands and His feet. The humiliation, ignominy and scorn of men He accepted with equanimity; He despised the shame attaching to the manner of His death. These pains were insignificant compared with the agony of being made sin and the horror of being accursed by God and forsaken by His Father. In these lay His intensest sufferings.

       The burden of humanity's depravity lay like a mass of foulest corruption upon His pure and holy soul. He Who was innocent and without sin participated in the most intimate manner in man's corruption by being involved in the foulest deed that ever has darkened the history of the universe -- the slaying of the Son of God. How can we know anything of the agony of such an experience? We are sinners, born to sin, immersed in it and nurtured in it, callous and almost totally ignorant of the heinous blackness of sin to the One pure and spotless. It is however these sufferings of Christ which justify God in justifying sin as a part of His eonian purpose.


Christ became a Curse for our sakes

       God had in the beginning doomed man to be a sinner, for it was no accident in the purpose of God that Adam failed to obey the single and simple injunction of his Creator. At the cross God cursed His Son. It is a thought awful to contemplate, yet true, for He became a curse for our sakes (Gal.3:13). Therein lies the means for the salvation of all. In the slaying of His Son God Himself became a part of the harvest of sin. Though He was assassinated by the hands of lawless men, yet He was given up in the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). The suffering, God offered up His suffering Son.

       Must not the heart of God have been torn and seared by this extreme measure required for the salvation of all and the justifying of His ways with mankind! Thus the tragedy of sin's drama reached its terrible climax. God Himself became deeply involved, in the sacrifice of His Son, in the woe sin had inflicted on the world and the rest of the universe. He identified Himself with sinful humanity. Men were ignorant of what they did, but God, Who in reality wielded the knife that slew the Sacrifice, knew the awful nature of the crime that slew His Beloved, and He involved Himself in it.

       And thus was sin cleansed. He justified His action by raising His Son, and through it justifies the sinner who now believes, and will eventually justify all at the consummation. With this in mind, do we walk as children of light and thank Him every day for His marvelous provision for us? We should (cf Eph.5:9-14)!


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