The Suffering of Death
“But we see him…. namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”--Hebrews 2:9
On this past Good Friday many of God’s people around the world reflected upon the crucifixion of our Lord. In doing so, we recalled the horrendous, brutal treatment of Jesus that led to his death. Undeniably, our Lord intensely suffered unto death. But notice how the author of Hebrews speaks: “the suffering of death.” By this Spirit-inspired phrase we are made to not only consider the sufferings of Jesus leading to his death, but death as suffering. Jesus suffered death. “He….taste[d] death for everyone.” Let’s take a moment to reflect upon this.
Being truly human, Jesus faced that dark unknown of disembodied existence. He suffered the unnatural rending of his human soul from his human body. The body, that his Father had prepared for him (Heb 10:5), laid lifeless in the tomb three days. His human soul/spirit that he faithfully committed into the Father’s hands (Lk 23:46) was for the first time without physicality. For humanity this is an experience which the apostle Paul metaphorically describes as being “unclothed”; “naked” (2 Cor 5). Jesus suffered this in his death.
Christ also suffered the severing of relationships that death causes. Even though it was going to be a temporary condition, he still had to prepare his disciples for this separation (Jn 13-17). He also needed to commit his own grieving mother to another’s care (Jn 19:26-27). Even here we see his suffering of death.
Lastly, let us never forget that Jesus’ suffering of death included fully the conscious experience of death as the judgement of God. On the cross we see that the Lord of glory is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God’s righteous curse upon man’s sin fell upon Jesus. The terror and pain of what our Lord suffered in his death is greater than we will ever know. For he was impeccably pure and utterly holy in and of himself, yet he bore the sins of many. All the sins, the filth, the perversions, the hatred, the shame of his people through all of history was borne by him (2 Cor 5:21). He tasted death for everyone of his own.
Jesus’ suffering of death for the salvation of sinners truly is unimaginable. He didn’t have to do it. He didn’t need to do it. He desired to; he wanted to. It was his holy joy and good pleasure. Why? Love. He did it because he loves us. Grace amazing indeed!
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood... to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”--Rev 1:5,6
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.