The Church is a group of people who have suffered in this life, but have been redeemed. We know where we are going when we leave this earth. Deaths, divorce, financial issues, health problems and more have altered our lives. Unfortunately it is the condition of the world into which we have been born. No matter how much difficulty we experience in this world the God of the universe has suffered more than we can imagine correcting it. It is helpful that we take this time to attempt to develop an understanding however feeble of what God has done for us and how He suffered in doing so. He created us in His image. In doing so we have emotions and experience pain just like God does. His are on a magnitude much greater then ours though.
Sometime in the past the anointed Cherub Lucifer performed sinful deeds while his domain was in Heaven. In doing so he brought corruption into Heaven. The Bible states that the heavens themselves needed cleansing by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9: 23-26). God judged him and cast him to earth. In doing so he drew a third of theangels in Heaven that were foolish enough to make the choice to follow him thereby sealing their doom (Revelation 12: 4). Lucifer then became the adversary (Hebrew Satan) and entered the Garden of Eden to corrupt our first parents bringing the sin he had into the world. God judged him and all that he had corrupted. At that time God announced to him that He would bring a redeemer (the seed of the woman) into the world to correct these environments, which Satan had polluted. Knowing this he tried as hard as he could to prevent the coming of the Messiah. One of those methods he employed was sending the corrupt angels to earth to intermarry with women produce a hybrid corrupt offspring (Nephilim) and stop the required purity of the Messianic line from progressing.
Just before the Great Flood He brought upon the world to cleanse it from Satan’s corruption and to wipe out the Nephilim, our God expressed His sorrow over His creation.
Genesis 6: 5-6
5And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart (ASV 1901).
The Hebrew word that gets translated into English as “and repented” is vaieenechem וַיִּנָּחֶם. It means to be sorry to the point of suffering grief. It is a past tense (perfect tense in Hebrew) verb that has the characteristic of the subject (God) being part of the object (mankind) of the sentence. So it should read that God suffered, Himself, at the experience of the sins of His creation. In fact one of the prominent aspects of this verb is that the degree of suffering is referred to as to breath pantingly in this grief. He hurt so much at the sinfulness of humankind that He grieved as if He could not get His breath. His pain reached a level that we can never understand or experience. His suffering was greater than anything we could ever suffer. So often our suffering takes the form of lashing out at others and assigning blame. God did not do that. He set up His own plan to redeem the world by bearing the grief and sorrow in a way that allowed Him to provide the redemption of mankind by taking the God imposed penalty for sin upon Himself. In doing so He would have to suffer more than He had as of yet and again a level of suffering we cannot imagine. God prophesied to Isaiah in the eighth century B.C. that He who suffered much grief over mankind would come to the earth to provide redemption for mankind.
Isaiah 53: 1-12
1Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? 2For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? 9And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.10Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. 11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (ASV 1901).
Jehovah God sent Himself a suffering servant in the body of a man to atone for the sins of the world. His suffering reached a level of pain before and during the crucifixion that we cannot imagine. Daniel writing in the late sixth century B.C. received a prophecy from the angel Gabriel about the death of Christ.
Daniel 9: 25-26a
25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26a And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: (KJV).
Gabriel speaking to Daniel regarding the timing of Christ’s appearance on the earth gives him the timetable for it. He concludes this part of the longer prophecy by saying that the Anointed One, The Prince shall be cut-off (killed) but not for himself. This prophecy gives us assurance that God was going to suffer a murder of Himself so we could be redeemed.
The night of what we call the last supper Christ gathered His apostles into an upper room to tell them many things about His need to be sacrificed. That was on Thursday before the Passover. It was customary to sing Psalms 113-118 at the close of the meal before Passover. Psalm 118 describes how God guides the righteous through distress and the impending death. Jesus asked the Father to have this obligation pass from Him if possible. Jesus was saying in effect, “Father, if there is any other way by which sinners can be saved than by My going to the cross, reveal that way now! But in all of this, I want it known that I desire nothing contrary to Your will.” He then went to Gethsemane with Peter, James and John.
The name Gethsemane means “oil press,” which suggests that the place Jesus went to pray was going to provide him with an excruciating and crushing spiritual experience. Both Luke and John mention this as a customary meeting place for Jesus and His disciples (Luke 22:39; John 18:2). He had told them about the suffering he would endure but they did not understand. Luke 12: 50 states, ” I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished“
He was experiencing a sorrow over the spiritual heaviness He sensed that when He said to the apostles, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me (Matthew 26: 38b KJV). His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane was the culmination of all the suffering He experienced in His ministry beginning with Satan’s temptation in the wilderness up to the point of the actual crucifixion and His separation from God (forsaken).
The agony itself that He experienced is described; He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy. The pain or torment that he was experiencing was coming from within; he troubled Himself (John11: 33). The words used are very emphatically stated; he began to be sorrowful, and be in a vaieenechem type pain. Luke 22: 44 tells us that Jesus’ sorrow was so strong His pores secreted a substance like blood.  He probably was experiencing the condition described in the medical dictionary as Hematidrosis, which is the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. Leonardo da Vinci described a soldier who sweated blood before battle, and when men were unexpectedly given a death sentence. The degree of sorrow signifies such a sorrow as a weight of lead upon his spirits. Now was fulfilled, the Messianic Psalm 22:14, where it is stated, I am poured out like water, my heart is like wax, it is melted.
But what was the cause of all this? What was it that put him into his agony? There are two realms of life pictured in the suffering He experienced in the garden.
- He met with the powers of darkness which He described (Luke 22:53); This is your hour, and the power of darkness: and he spoke of it just before (John 14:30, 31); “The prince of this world cometh. I see him marshaling his forces, and preparing for a general assault; but he has nothing in me therefore his attempts, though fierce, will be fruitless: but as the Father gave me commandment, so I do; however it be, I must have a struggle with him, the field must be fairly fought; and therefore arise, let us go hence, let us hasten to the field of battle, and meet the enemy.’ Now is the close engagement in single combat like between Michael and the dragon, hand to hand; now is the judgment of this world; the great cause is now to be determined, and the decisive battle fought, in which the prince of this world, will certainly be beaten and cast out, (John 12:31). Christ, when he wrought salvation for us is described like a champion taking the field, (Isaiah 59:16–18). Now the serpent makes his fiercest onset on the seed of the woman, and directs his sting, the sting of death, to his very heart and the wound is mortal.
- He was now bearing the iniquities, which the Father laid upon him, and, by his sorrow and obedience he accommodated himself to his undertaking. The sufferings he was laying upon Himself were for our sins; they were all made to press upon him, and He knew it. As we are obliged to be sorry for our particular sins, so was He grieved for the sins of us all. He knew how malignant the sins were that were laid upon him, how provoking to God, how ruining to man; and these being all set upon Him to bear. He was sorrowful and very heavy.
Satan tried all he could to prevent Christ’s crucifixion. The death He experienced cleansed the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9: 23-26), which Lucifer polluted with his sin and fall, as well as providing for the salvation of all who would believe the gospel of Christ (II Corinthians 5: 21). It is these sorrows we must try and realize as we struggle with our limited understanding of the workings of God. He did it for us and we are most blessed. When we consider our own travail on this earth remember His sacrifice and sorrow. He did it for us so we could give Him our burdens, which He willingly took upon Himself.
Matthew 11: 28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Daniel E. Woodhead PH.D