Every story needs a villain in order for the hero to shine. It sure isn’t hard to find villains in the Lenten stories of Jesus’ suffering—clueless and faithless disciples, hard-hearted Pharisees, Sadducees protecting their privileged positions, cruel and inhuman soldiers, and a cynical imperial governor. To this list could be added our names, for it was our sins that made Jesus’ terrible ordeal necessary.
You can add God’s name to the list as well. What!? God caused Jesus’ suffering? Yes. Behind the lash of the scourge was the hand of God, who was pouring out the judgment, wrath, and punishment for the sins of the entire world upon the Son. Isaiah’s prophetic insights allow us to see what was really happening in Jerusalem on Good Friday: “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days” (Isaiah 53:10).
As you are compelled to visualize the leather lashes cracking down on Jesus’ bare back, first raising red welts, then drawing blood, and finally tearing the flesh apart, realize all over again how bad sin is—your sin. This is what hell is like, and Jesus offered to experience it so that you wouldn’t have to. If God actually followed through and did this to his Son, he will certainly do what he says he will do to unbelievers on the Last Day.
The price was paid. Jesus got to see his offspring (you and me) and live again.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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