Humanity once lived in a pristine world. God’s love allowed freedom of choice, but sin changed everything. Disease and pain entered the scene and the earth became corrupt. Fellowship with God was severed, and a righteous God could not ignore sin, nor could his love neglect the sinner. So, he initiated a plan to punish wrongdoing and restore a fallen world. To be both just and the justifier of sinners, God sent his son to suffer on our behalf and to endure the penalty of sin. At Calvary he was bruised for our transgression, He was stricken for our griefs (Isaiah 53), and he satisfied the demands of a lawful system of divine justice (Read Romans). Jesus suffered and died for all, and at the cross, God declared his love for a lost and hurting world.
At the cross and in the incarnation, Jesus declared something else. By coming to the earth and dwelling among us, He demonstrated to the world that God understands. Our Lord and friend hungered. He wept. He hurt. He labored. In the body of his flesh he suffered, and was in every way tempted like we are today (Hebrews 4:14-15). He understands the pain of loneliness and isolation (Matthew. 4:1; 13: 55-56; 26:36-40). He endured the emotional agony of separation (Matt. 27:46), and the torture of a bloody scourge and a tormenting cross. He tasted of death for all (Hebrews 2:9), and revealed himself as a compassionate and loving God; able to help those who are suffering (Hebrews 2:16-18), and ready to save those who obey (John 3:16; Hebrews 5:8-9).
This gruesome photo, taken at the Israel Museum of Archaeology and the Bible, is of a Roman crucifixion spike driven through a human ankle bone. It was discovered inside a first century A.D. ossuary (stone carved bone box) of Jehohanan the son of Hagkol, in northeast Jerusalem. It is a sober reminder of the torture our Lord endured on the cross, and the empathy he now feels when we likewise suffer in the flesh.
The photo of the empty tomb reminds us of something else about Jesus: it declares his power over mortality and gives us hope for our own personal victory over suffering and death. Through Jesus we can look forward to a new body; resurrected from the gloom of the grave, and free from the harsh and present realities of pain and disease (1 Corinthians 15:5-58; Philippians 3:21). In Jesus there is hope, both in this present age and in the world to come (2 Peter 3:10-13).
by John W. Moore Photos courtesy of Doug Garner, Michael Hite, Bible Land Passages, and World Video Bible School.