Christ’s human nature truly suffered while on earth. Pain is hard for some of us to be able to imagine. Some people live with pain every hour of every day. However, we all at some point know what it is like to hit our hands with a hammer, or stand on a Lego block, or jamb our fingers in a door. This pain is sharp yet brief. The reality is that Christ was not superhuman; the Godhead and Manhood were inseparably joined together. His human nature became tired (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28), and hungry (Matt 4:2). He not only had a body like ours, but he also had emotions like ours (yet without sin). He was troubled (John 12:27), sorrowful (Matt 26:38), and wept (John 11:35). The only difference he did not sin. This is important when we think about the life that he lived and the death that he died. We can sometimes minimalize the physical and emotional suffering Christ suffered in his life but especially the last week of his life before his resurrection.
The Westminster Larger Catechism looks at Christ’s humiliation over five questions (46-50). The last of these questions (50) asks, “How did Christ humble himself in his death?”
Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.
When we think about the suffering of Christ, we sometimes can only think of his last breath, his death. However, the suffering would take tremendous toils on any human being. Think about the things that were done to Christ in his last couple of days before his final breath. Here are some of them; betrayed, forsaken, scorned, rejected, condemned, and tormented. He conflicted with the terrors of death and powers of darkness. Even upon the cross, he suffered feeling and bearing the weight of God’s divine judgment, poured out upon him. He endured the pain of crucifixion, dying from exhaustion and asphyxiation. The hymn “A Green Hill far Away” articulates the suffering of Christ well,
We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear;
but we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.
It is hard for us to fathom or grasp the suffering that Christ went through for his people. He laid his life down with excruciating pain so that we might live. In a world of medication, we cannot begin to grasp the pain, physical and emotional, that our Savior suffered in the last days. However, the soothing thought for believers is that he did it for US. He laid down his life as an offering for sin. The author of Hebrews explains, “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).