Our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross for approximately six hours. It is shocking to see how much pain our Savior suffered. Previous to Golgotha, Jesus was scourged, beaten, mocked, spat upon, betrayed by His disciples, as well as having nails driven through His wrists and feet, that literally began to rip the life away from Him. After these inhumane trials came those six long hours of horrific and hideous pain. Beyond this intense pain, “He bore the sins [of the whole world] in His body.” (1 Peter 2:24) The emotional, physical and spiritual pains were crushing for our Lord. This begs the question, “How did Jesus handle pain?” Interestingly on the cross, Jesus uttered seven short phrases that the Holy Spirit records for us. If we examine these words that came out of His heart, we will learn from His example how to deal with pain. I say this because in my time as a Christian, almost all the disciples that I have seen fall away do so because they did not handle pain like Jesus did. Also, of equal concern are “hurting disciples.” Because they did not follow our Lord’s example in handling pain, “hurting disciples” remain in the church – in a weakened or lukewarm state – often critical of other disciples, especially leadership. Thankfully, none of us will ever have to go through all of Jesus’ pains. Yet, because Jesus endured the maximum of all forms of pain, He became our perfect example and “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:8)
|Ruby James (in blue) rejoices after her baptism this past Sunday!|
1. In the midst of His pain, Jesus forgave.
“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:33-34) It is extremely difficult for us to forgive even after we have been sinned against. Yet, Jesus forgave in the midst of His pain, while His wounds were still bleeding. This is Jesus’ challenge for us – forgive while in pain. Our Lord is our perfect example of forgiveness. To forgive is an issue of salvation. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. (Matthew 6:14-15) Do you hold anything against anyone? If you do, forgive them, so that you can go to heaven. One thing that helps me to forgive is Jesus words, “They do not know what they are doing.” My sinful nature cries out, “They do know what they are doing when sinning against me.” I want justice given to those who sin against me, but I want grace when I sin against someone else. My wife Lynda is a great example of forgiving like Jesus. When I have been insensitive towards her, only after Lynda explains the hurt, do I understand the depth of my sin and say, “I did not realize that I hurt you so much.” I so appreciate my wife’s mercy on so many occasions! If God were to give us justice for our sins, we would all be in hell. Let’s take the challenge from Jesus and forgive – even in the middle of our pain – and extend mercy to those who sin against us.
2. In the midst of His pain,Jesus saved souls.
“Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Luke 23:43) Up until His last breath, Jesus was saving souls. After all, this is why He came. (Luke 19:10) How about you? Are you saving souls when you are in pain? Are you saving souls at all? What astounds me, is that He did it in the midst of pain! It is incredible what God has done in the City of Angels Church. In 2008, God added over 100 souls through baptism as the Spirit sent out 40 disciples on three mission teams: New York, Honolulu and Portland! That is amazing! Though many relationships were severed with the sending out of so many leaders and fellow disciples, the Christians who remained in LA, did not become inwardly focused in the midst of their pain, but instead they saved souls and sacrificed, which is one of the reasons God gave us such a tremendous victory! Are you saving souls in the midst of your pain? Jesus did.
|Lance & Connie Underhill express their appreciation to the Kids Kingdom workers!|
3. In the midst of His pain,Jesus served.
“When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27) When we are in pain, our inclination is to get upset if those around us fail to serve us by catering to our every need. Often, when the pain is extremely intense, we cut off our relationships and do not want to even be around people. This can manifest itself by not answering phone calls, not having any “close friends,” or even missing church. We go into our “little shells” of self-pity or our “deep caves” of selfish solitude. This common reaction is not “the way” of Jesus. (John 14:6) Instead, in the midst of His pain, Jesus met the needs of His mother. He chose for His mother His closest disciple to take care of her. I remember a few ago when I was a missionary in Chile, a sister named Carola was diagnosed with cancer. In the midst of that pain, she was still serving so many by cooking and cleaning. This selflessness so encouraged the Santiago brothers and sisters, since she was one of our poorest sisters in the entire congregation! And in God’s marvelous grace, He healed Carola from her cancer! How about you? How much do you serve your brothers and sisters when in pain?
4. In the midst of His pain, Jesus was open.
“Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’” (John 19:28) Jesus, without a doubt, wanted to fulfill the Scriptures, but His openness about His needs was incredible! In fact, His openness was present throughout the entire passion account. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus shares with Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38) He was open with His disciples, whom He knew were going to abandon Him. Jesus’ openness helped Him not to sin. And this is the wonderful thing about discipling. With it, you can stop sin at a temptation level. Are you open when in pain? Or do you keep it inside? It is so encouraging to be in a church where the brothers and sisters feel that they can be open, since the leadership has cultivated an atmosphere of acceptance, where sin is gently and lovingly confronted. (Galatians 6:1) Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s be open in the middle of our pain.
5. In the midst of His pain, Jesus prayed.
Jesus prayed to God on the cross, when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” and, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Matthew 26:46; Luke 23:46). I find that disciples pray much less when experiencing the ordeal that causes pain. During these dark times, many of us have fallen into sin, instead of seeking the Lord. Clearly on the cross, Jesus prayed. Only through prayer can you “see” the spiritual world. His prayer helped Him to realize, that God was sovereign. Jesus’ pain came through the Roman soldiers, who physically crucified him. Also responsible for His pain was the Jewish leadership, who developed the plot to kill Him. Perhaps one of the most intense pains came through His disciples, who deserted Him in His greatest hour of need. Obviously, Satan was involved in His pain, deceiving the hearts of men through confusion causing cowardice, sentimentality and a blood-thirsty hate. But ultimately on the cross, Jesus states that His pain came from God. God forsook Him. It was God, who so loved everyone in the world that He planned for Jesus – His only son – to suffer as “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) This was what helped Jesus to bear the cross. If we are not earnestly praying when in pain, we will become bitter and blame men for our problems and not see the sovereign hand of God discipling us for His cause and our good. (Hebrews 12:7; Romans 8:28). Let’s make the decision to seek our Lord in prayer in the midst of our pain.
6. In the midst of His pain, Jesus never quit.
“Jesus said, “It is finished”. With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30) Many have quit on the Lord during the 12 years that I have been a disciple. This is dreadfully sad; but it is interesting that no one gets baptized thinking, “I am going to fall away in three months, a year, 10 years or 20 years.” Absolutely no one thinks like that, or else they could not be baptized! So then, what happened? For so many this can be summed up in one word – pain! In the midst of their pain, disciples quit on the Lord, and then Satan once again enslaves them. Jesus never quit. He finished what He came to do, and then He gave up His spirit. As an evangelist and as a brother, I plead with you, do not quit! If you have fallen into sin, do financial times, problems in your family, health challenges, or relational problems – even in the church, do not quit! If you are considering falling away because the pain has made you feel that your struggles are not worth your salvation, do not quit! “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear… He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) In the midst of His pain, Jesus never quit.
Our Lord is so awe-inspiring! His seven phrases and accompanying actions during His most painful time – the cross – inspires me to be like Him. No one has even been like Jesus. No one ever spoke like Him, loved like Him, lived like Him or suffered like Him. Yet in His suffering, He did not sin, but gave His best to God – staying righteous. Let us “follow in His steps… for by His wounds [we] were healed.” (1 Peter2:21-24) Our Savior overcame pain to fulfill His destiny. So too must each who bears His name. He gave us the plan to save the nations in this generation – pain. To God be the glory!