I remember being 8 years old. My cousin and I were on the playground trying to ditch my little sister. We climbed the fort and waited at the top of the slide planning to make a quick escape as she ascended toward us. As I leaned over the edge, my cousin slipped causing me to sky dive head first toward the ground some 18 feet away. I stretched out my arms to brace against impact. I don’t remember anything about the next several minutes, but the hours that followed involved quite a bit of pain. I wanted to be tough so I gingerly played it off for the next 3 days.
3 days after my epic tumble was my next scheduled baseball game. I stepped up to the plate. The first pitch was right down the middle. I took a big swing and, as my wrist rolled over, the bones in each of my forearms separated. The new shape of my arms was anything but natural. The next several hours involved a hospital, pain pills and a couple of cruel doctors.
If I had given more thought to the source of my pain, I could have avoided having to get the bones in each of my arms set and may not have been disabled for the entire summer season of little league baseball. Often times, pain serves to highlight those things that seek to limit your success in life.
Each one of you have stories you can share about broken bones, cuts, bruises, scrapes and burns. The problem with pain is that it hurts. We will do anything we can to avoid pain. The potential of pain is a great deterrent from a lot of stupid things you might otherwise do.
This is true of physical and emotional pain. The hurt of being demeaned, failure, lost love and other anxieties is just as real as our cuts and bruises.
The hurt life brings our way is inevitable; and, while it might seem appropriate to view pain negatively, Jesus saw pain differently. Jesus saw pain as an opportunity to provide something good for you and me. In most cases, we find Jesus modeling the way for us to follow, but this time it’s a little different. Jesus did something we could never do. Jesus embraced pain and transformed its very nature into something powerful for us.
To help us understand the gravity of what Jesus endured, let’s take a look at a few events leading up to the resurrection we will soon celebrate.
Luke 22:63-65 (NIV) – Jesus with the Arresting Guards
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.
Matthew 26:67-68 (NIV) – Jesus stands before the Priests and church leaders
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Matthew 27:24-26 (NIV) – Jesus stands before Pilate
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Matthew 27:27-31 (NIV) – Jesus stands before the Soldiers
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:38-44 (NIV) – Jesus on the Cross
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Luke 23:44-46 (NIV) – The Death of Jesus
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The God of the universe willingly subjected himself to pain beyond comprehension. Why? He did for you. The good news of pain is that, through Jesus, it is extremely beneficial to our wellbeing:
- First of all, the Bible tells us that the pain Jesus endured secures healing for us. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
- And secondly, pain gets our attention. When you touch something hot, the pain you experience causes you to draw back your hand. Pain serves as a warning mechanism to help protect you from greater harm.
Pain serves to highlight those things that seek to limit your success in life.
Take some time to reflect on what Jesus did for you. The pain he endured had purpose. The pain he endured offers healing.
And when you experience pain in your life, remember that you are not alone. If the pain is physical, thank God for making you aware of the problem. The experience of physical pain is the first step of recognition toward alleviation and healing provided through Jesus.
If the pain in your life is emotional, the same truth applies. You are not alone. The good news of Easter goes beyond resurrection and eternal life. The good news of Easter includes everything that led up to the cross. The good news of Easter instructs and empowers you to live life well.