We have to begin our understanding of suffering by understanding why Jesus had to die. Paul goes into a teaching about this in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15. I won’t go into the entire thing – but the end of what He was teaching is that, “24 Then the final stage of completion comes, when He will bring to an end every other rulership, authority, and power, and He will hand over his kingdom to Father God. 25 Until then he is destined to reign as King until all hostility has been subdued and placed under his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be subdued and eliminated is Death itself.”
We know that the other rulerships are of Satan’s kingdom, and Death belongs to his kingdom. Revelation 1 says Jesus (after the Cross and Resurrection) now holds the keys to Death and Hades. Revelation 20 says that both will be cast into the lake of fire in the end.
So… what IS Death?
Physical death is the separating of our soul/spirit from our physical bodies. We know that, when Adam was put in the Garden of Eden, the Lord told him that if he were to eat of the Tree of Life, he would surely die. What happened to Adam (and Eve) when they disobeyed? DID they die? Well – yes and not yet. That day, they died in the sense that they were now separated from God’s literal presence with them. God/Jesus no longer came in their presence and walked in the cool of the day with them. They could no longer sit and talk face to face with Him. And later, they died in the sense that their bodies and soul/spirit were separated from each other.
But, who was the FIRST to die? Satan. When he brought sin into his heart, he was denied permission to live in Heaven any longer. He was ‘dead’ to God and Heaven, separated. He brought with him – in essence, caused the death of – 1/3 of the angels. And they were so angry with God, so bitter against Him – they vowed that His creation, Man, would not be with Him, either. And they connived the way to bring Death to Adam and Eve.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 “When Adam sinned, the entire world was affected. Sin entered human experience, and death was the result. And so, death followed this sin, casting its shadow over all humanity, because all have sinned.”
So. Let’s go back to the Garden. What did Jesus do for Adam and Eve when they sinned? To cover their sin? Yes – He slew an animal. He subjected His perfect, sinless Creation to Death, though it did not merit this, as a result of Adam & Eve’s sin. It was most likely a lamb, one for each. It’s not unreasonable to think that He had them WATCH Him take these innocent, trusting animals and sacrifice them. Watch them bleed and slowly lose Life. This must have horrified them, knowing that it was all their fault – but it showed them the very cost of their disobedience. DEATH. But it had to be – it was the only way to cover their sin. They had already lost the Glory covering they had when they were brought to Life, and God had rejected the leaves they tried to use. (We can never ‘cover’ our own sin…) There was no other way.
Revelation 9 tells us about the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world – Jesus. Even before Adam and Eve were, Jesus had already offered Himself up for them. For US. I don’t know just how this was carried out in Heaven, but we surely saw it carried out in the flesh on the Cross. He not only showed us what Death was – but what the ‘rulers, authorities’ and all the rest of Satan’s kingdom was now allowed to do, was responsible for, in their dealings with Man. They put Him through every imaginable torture and torment conceivable. But the end result was: He defeated Death. And now has the keys to Death.
Jesus lives outside of this thing we call Time. Because He is omnipotent & omnipresent, He is able to live within ALL of us, all at the same ’time’. And He suffers with each of us. A child molested, raped and killed – He’s there. Experiencing it all. A woman beaten and worse – He’s there. A man tortured for his faith in Christ – He’s there. Not just watching, but in some way we cannot fathom, experiencing it, too. This is what He meant when He told the disciples in John 14:19 “In a little while, the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.”
Sin ordained that man is ‘free game’ to the demons/Satan. WE suffer because THEY hate us. They can’t touch God or Jesus – but they can sure ‘touch’ us. There is a spiritual…exchange, though. Just as Jesus, who was innocent of ALL sin, was able to die in our place. WE, those of us striving with all our ability to be holy (separated UNTO God), who are not engaged in active sin, can suffer in the stead of another soul. If we are willing – WE can take on the pain a child is experiencing in a rape/sacrifice. WE can experience the torture of a baby being burned alive in the womb and tortured.
Not the full extent – Jesus only allows what He knows we can bear – He bears the rest. This spiritual exchange goes on in every life – one giving, one receiving, as Jesus ordains and determines. It’s Love in action. He knows that we cannot escape the tortures and torments of the demons – not until our bodies die. And so, He ‘produces’ offerings through our various infirmities, irritations, tragedies, emotional turmoil – and exchanges them for Graces, for the benefit of others, lessening their pain and suffering.
This will all end, when Satan and Death are finally, forever, confined to the lake of fire. But until then – this is the way things are. We can choose to give Him ALL of ourselves to help. We can choose to give Him some. He will use/take whatever we are willing to give and love us for whatever we are offering.
But as His Bride – He longs that we be willing to be fully, completely HIS. Trusting Him with our very lives, if needed. THIS is why we suffer. For our Beloved. And just as HE regained all His Glory and position and blessings once He returned to Heaven, so we shall be blessed and gifted by the Father and Him once we go Home.
Now, however, it is time to Love one another – even as we love Him. And suffering for each other’s sake is all a part of it.