A few years back I was given the amazing opportunity to go with some dear friends and a group of people to Israel. I wasn’t able to take it all in or remember every detail of the trip but I am still left with a complete sense of awe and wonder. The reality of Jesus’ life and the scriptures coming to life had never been more vivid. One of the things I will never forget is how completely overwhelmed I was with how much Jesus suffered while on this earth. While I grew up in a Christian home, grew up reading the Bible, and continued to grow in my Christian walk, until that trip to some degree Jesus’ life and acts were somewhat abstract. What he suffered during his human life most of us could never imagine. And yet he chose this…
- Both his mother and father were stigmatized because many believed that Jesus was “illegitimate” or conceived out of wedlock.
- At the time of the census Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). That is somewhat around 90 miles. Mary of course being far along in her pregnancy would have been limited in how fast and long she could travel in a day. That trip was long and arduous.
- Upon arriving in Bethlehem there was no room in the inn, Mary was forced to give birth to the Son of God in a stable, surrounded by animals.
- King Herod, upon learning about the prophecy and hearing that the “ruler” (Matt. 2:6) was born, sent out a decree that all male children under the age of 2 were to be murdered. Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus (who was approximately 2 years old) to Egypt until the time of King Herod’s death.
- When news of Herod the Great’s death arrived they then traveled back to Nazareth. Most likely living among the very people who wrongly judged his parents and Jesus’ conception. They didn’t believe him to be the Son of God. (Luke 4:22) At one point the people of Nazareth (his hometown) tried to throw him off a cliff. (Luke 4:29-30)
- His own brother James didn’t come to believe in him as the Son of God until after the resurrection. (John 7:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15:7)
- From the time he was born he had no permanent home. The closest thing to a home he had was Peter’s mother-in-laws home in Capernaum.
- There were multiple plans by religious leaders and government officials to try and have him killed.
- Most of those closest to him abandoned him at the time of his arrest and crucifixion. The perfect Son of God chose to die a criminal’s death.
- The loneliness he felt
- The righteous anger he felt
- The protectiveness and compassion he felt for his created children
- The physical pain he felt.
- The peace he feels, knowing that the battle has already been decided.
These are just a few things to illustrate the reality of Jesus’ suffering and humanity. I remind you of those things to emphasize that when Jesus tells us that he shares with humanity in their sufferings he is being true to his word. Jesus suffered a life that not one of us would ever choose, and yet he did it perfectly and lovingly. Jesus hurts when you hurt and rejoices when you rejoice. If you are hurting today, be reminded that the Lord of all is sharing in your hurt and awaiting the time that all will be made right. Until then, find compassion and warmth in his loving kindness and don’t underestimate the power of the name Immanuel, God with us.