Formations lesson for March 24: Suffering Servant
March 1 2002 by Steve Zimmerman , Matthew 27:32-66

Formations lesson for March 24: Suffering Servant | Friday, March 1, 2002

Friday, March 1, 2002

Formations lesson for March 24: Suffering Servant

By Steve Zimmerman Matthew 27:32-66

I had the opportunity recently to meet a new friend in ministry. In our first discussion he shared with me some events that took place in his ministerial career many years ago. His stories were similar to what I was going through in my ministry. It was such a relief to know that I was not the only one who had to go through these dilemmas. Just to know that someone had gone before me, with the same problems, and is still alive to tell about it is very comforting.

There was another person I met as a child who has already made a path for me. He knows my pain. As they say, He "has been there and done it." He has paid the price. That person is Jesus Christ.

In our world of feel good Christianity, we are reluctant to address the anguish of the Lord's suffering before Easter. We tend to dwell on a body-less cross and an empty tomb. In this passage from Matthew we will focus on the many forms of suffering that our Messiah went through in order that we might be spiritually free, even in our pain.

Social Alienation

The stage is set. Hardly anyone was around to help Jesus. He rejected the offers of those who tried to ease His pain. The disciples who spent years with Him are nowhere to be found. The one who denied him three times was nearby.

To add insult to injury soldiers stripped off his clothes and left him naked to die on the cross. The soldiers were at his feet to guard anyone from coming to His rescue and taking Him down off the cross. They made sure no heroic deeds were executed.

If that was not enough, people who praised Him on Palm Sunday were now mocking Him and using His words out of context. Not to be left out, the criminals next to Him got in their own jabs. He now has no social status whatsoever.

Religious Community Torments

Someone has said that the church is the only organization that shoots its wounded. Here we find no exception in Jesus' day. Instead of trying to understand Him and ushering in a new kingdom, these leaders were the key ringleaders in putting Him to death.

Even after His final breath, these men took steps to insure that no one would rob His grave and claim a resurrection. They were afraid of His popularity but had forgotten His real power.

Separation from God

The Creator used nature to paint a vivid scene for Matthew's audience. The reaction of the Heavenly Father to the sins His Son was carrying was complete isolation. Darkness fell over the area. Sin's influence was affecting the physical world as well. Although Jesus was carrying out His sacrificial duty on the cross, the pain was excruciating for not only the Savior but for God Himself.

The Good News in Pain

We see affliction. We also witness hope. At our weakest moments we can have faith that suffering is not the end of our road. Life is not bitter even in our agony.

No one could stop Jesus from dying. That was His mission all along. But we notice in this scripture that women were instrumental in His funeral arrangements. They were also the first to hear the good news on Easter! Jesus did have friends.

Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, was a religious leader who gave his own grave so Jesus might be properly buried. This disciple did the right thing for the right reason. We are reminded that there are good spiritual leaders among us.

The best part of suffering is that God really is there for us. He was there for Jesus. He will be there for us.

The rumblings of the earthquakes and the tearing of the temple curtain were preludes to what was to come on Sunday!

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3/1/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve Zimmerman , Matthew 27:32-66 | with 0 comments
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