In this article, we’ll look at the many components of Jesus’ suffering to understand why he had to suffer, how he suffered, and what this means for us.
We’re diving deep into the suffering of our Lord and Savior to gain a better perspective of what Jesus endured for us. How did Jesus’ suffer and why? Let’s explore the scriptures and gain a better understanding.
How Did Jesus Suffer?
The first thing to look at is how Jesus suffered, what he went through, and what kind of pain it caused him. Jesus endured horrendous physical pain, emotional torment, and spiritual agony.
During the time leading up to and during his crucifixion, he faced all three of these demons at the same time.
When he was arrested during the early morning and brought before Pontius Pilate he was tried for his claims of being the Son of God. Jesus was making himself out to be a King and that was not taken lightly by the high council or people who heard this claim.
Even though Pilate knew Jesus was innocent during his trial, the high priests and Pilate went according to the crowd’s desire. That desire was a punishment of the highest power. Jesus was charged with spiritual treason which was punishable by execution.
Jesus went through terrible physical pain as the Roman soldiers and townspeople stood back and watched. Jesus knew this day was coming and scripture tells us this.
“They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” Mark 10:34
Before Jesus was executed he was scourged. This involved horrifically painful torture through the use of a whip with leather cords, sheep bones, and pieces of metal wrapped throughout the cords.
This whip was designed to cause the maximum amount of pain and loss of blood. As Jesus was whipped, the large pieces of metal and bone would cut through His flesh, ripping pieces off with every lash. As His hands were tied to the post, there was nothing he could do but sit there and take it.
Once the whipping was over, Jesus’ back was ripped wide open and He was undoubtedly weak from blood loss. After this horrendous ordeal the Romans took Him to the governor’s palace to humiliate him.
They put together a crown made with thorns and rammed it onto His head, causing blood to gush down his face. The soldiers then begin to beat Him with a scepter. With each blow to the head, the crown of thorns pierced and scrapped His scalp.
At this point Jesus is weak, battered, and bleeding. They tear off His robe, causing additional pain to the wounds on His back, and walk Him to the Hill of the Skull outside of Golgotha.
When they arrive, Jesus’ battered body is barely recognizable. Now it is time to prepare for the crucifixion.
“See, my servant will act wisely, he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness –
So he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” Isaiah 52:13-15
Once again, scripture tells us that Jesus knew of this day. Although the book of Isaiah was written hundreds of years before this – He still knew the day would come.
Crucifixion didn’t directly relate to Jesus. It’s important that we understand this.
In Biblical times, the Romans used crusifiction as a way to embarrass, torture, and execute criminals, non-citizens, and anyone who threatened Roman rule. This method of death was considered the vilest and most humiliating and was reserved for the lowest of society.
With this in mind, we can gain a deeper understanding of Jesus’ suffering by perhaps one of the cruelest forms of execution at the time.
Before his crucifixion began, Jesus was forced to single-handedly carry the cross through the streets. While doing this He collapses and a bystander named Simon ends up carrying the cross the rest of the way.
Once they reach the top of the hill they throw Jesus down on his back against a rough plank of wood which provides additional pain for the open wounds on his body.
In order to secure his body to the cross, the soldiers drive huge nails through his hands so he can be lifted up on the cross. When raised, they nail his feet to the cross as well.
During a crucifixion, most people died of suffocation because it becomes difficult to breathe properly when supported by your wrists. For the next six hours, Jesus remained on the cross in complete agony, struggling to breathe.
The sheer amount of physical pain that Jesus endures is considered some of the worst in the history of humanity.
While it is important for us as Christians to understand what Jesus went through physically, the emotional and spiritual trauma might actually be worse than the physical trauma he endured.
If we move back to the beginning of the crucifixion story now and highlight the emotional trauma Jesus went through, we can compare the physical and emotional trauma He faced during this time.
Jesus was rejected by religious leaders and brought before Pontius Pilate. He was accused of a variety of things that we have all come to know were false. When you’re accused of something that you know isn’t true, what do you do?
You likely attempt to defend yourself, justify your reason, and stand your ground. Jesus felt that way too, but He didn’t stand up for Himself. Instead, He trusted this was God’s plan.
Even though the entire city dragged His name through the mud, ruined His reputation, and tore Him down at every opportunity, Jesus didn’t snap.
It must have been so painful as the Son of God to have religious leaders tear you down while they spit on you and rejected everything you said.
While we read about this and understand that it happened, we often forget to realize that Jesus was God in human form. He had our emotions, our feelings, and our senses as He experienced physical, emotional, and spiritual torture.
It’s crucial to put ourselves in His place and understand how we would have reacted had we been in His place. Jesus had the same urges and desires we have, but He remained silent.
Following rejection by religious leaders, Jesus is then rejected by the government.
As you follow the scripture, you actually start to believe Jesus will get off without persecution. He was deemed innocent by Pontius Pilate because He hadn’t actually committed a crime against Roman law. Instead, He committed a crime against religious doctrine.
But, rather than standing by the rules of Roman law, Pilate is overcome with cowardice and gives in to the desires of the people. The crowds called for Jesus’ suffering. The very same crowd that called Him the Messiah and shouted “Hosanna in the Highest” rejected Him.
The same crowd that Jesus healed, fed, and saved was the one that sent Him to death. We must understand how painful this must have been.
Imagine giving so much of yourself to someone or something only to have it turn on you completely. Not only that, but wish death upon you and actually execute on that wish.
Jesus is even rejected by one of the criminals who is crucified beside Him. He is the lowest of the low at this time and even His disciples refused to come to His rescue.
Rejection, suffering, and pain continue to build. The last thing we should discuss is spiritual suffering Jesus endured. As he is undergoing such terrible physical pain and humiliating emotional torment Jesus has nothing more than His spiritual belief that He is doing God’s will..
“Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” And even those who were crucified with Him berated Him.
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:32-34
I think these verses say it all. Jesus has lost his own faith. He feels deserted, abandoned, and stranded by his own God who sent him on this mission.
Jesus is crying out for help and asking why God is putting Him through such torture. Why in the world would God put Him through such physical, psychological, and emotional pain?
Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer?
Now that we understand the many trials and tribulations that Jesus faced, you can’t help but wonder, why?
Obviously, we know what church and scripture tell us. We understand Jesus died for our sins. But, what does that actually mean and why?
There are a few clues that help us along. If we go to the night before the crucifixion Jesus is praying at Gethsemane talking about a cup and how he wants the Father to remove it from him. It’s not until Mark 10 that we find out what the cup actually means.
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Mark 10:38-40
The cup is a symbol of God’s anger toward the sin of humanity. When He refers to drinking the cup, He is referring to the fatal day when He stood upon the cross, taking our sins upon Him to stand in our place.
The cup has been filling up since the beginning of creation and it’s God’s wrath against evil. As this cup fills, someone will have to drink it before God’s judgment reigns on us. If we don’t drink it ourselves, someone will have to drink it in our place. That someone being Jesus Christ.
Now we understand that during the beatings, the whippings, and while on the cross – Jesus is drinking that cup. During communion at church, we say “for our sake and for our salvation.” God is treating Jesus as the sin that we committed. He takes our place and is our salvation.
So if Jesus knew this, why would He call out to God asking “Why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus, in human form, was able to feel God’s absence when the Holy Spirit left Him.
To be separated from God was considered one of the worst types of punishment. During Jesus’ time murderers were sent away from the Temple in an act to separate them from God’s presence.
This punishment was described as “punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.” Does that sound familiar?
God is teaching us that walking away from Him is punishable by the death of our spiritual being. It is punishable by eternal suffering. When Jesus was on the cross and took on our sin, He had to be separated from God’s presence.
And at the very moment when Jesus cries out from feelings of abandonment – that is when he fully absorbs God’s wrath on our behalf. It’s when He truly feels the Holy Spirit abandon Him and leave Him to die.
What Jesus’ Suffering Means
Now we have a better understanding of what Jesus had to endure and why it happened. The last thing left to discuss is what this means for us now. Let’s look at the book of Mark for the answer:
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee, these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Mark 15:37-41
The main takeaway here is Jesus’ suffering means “access.” It means we have access to the temple of God and without His suffering, that access wouldn’t exist. The death of Jesus on the cross made a clear path to eternity. There is only one path to God the Father – through Jesus.
Bible Verses that Teach Us about Jesus’ Suffering
1 Peter 2:19-24
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
For to this, you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.
For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly, I will sing praise to You.” And again:“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” In as much then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death.
Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.