16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. – Mark 15:16-20
One of the most beautiful hymns that teaches what it means for Christ to suffer and die in our place is Paul Gerhardt’s “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” (LSB 438).
It opens with these words: A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,/The guilt of sinners bearing/And, laden with the sins of earth,/None else burden sharing;/Goes patient on, grows weak and faint,/To slaughter led without complaint,/That spotless life to offer…
Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the spotless Lamb who bears all your guilt, all of your sin, and all of your shame. There is no one else to share the burden because there is no one else that CAN share that burden.
He alone, fully God and fully Man, is able to bear the sins of every single person that will live or has lived. If you try to bear that burden, in full or in part, you are crushed by it. Yet, because he is the spotless, sinless, pure, and holy Lamb of God He can bear all your sins and offer up Himself on your behalf. And this involves great suffering.
And so stanza 1 continues: He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies,/The mockery, and yet replies,/"All this I gladly suffer.”
The physical suffering – the crown of thorns, the beatings, being spit upon, the mockery, the lashes, the nails – of Christ was terrible. From these cruel wounds oozed the sacrificial and holy blood of the lamb. The physical suffering though was not the worst part of His suffering. The worst part of His suffering would be that He must drink the cup of God’s wrath. Wrath is God’s anger incited by sin, which offends God’s righteousness and holiness.
This brings about God’s judgment and condemnation of sinners. Christ had prayed that if it was possible that the Father would take the cup from Him. But as we know it was the Father’s will, and so He drank the cup of God’s wrath that we deserved – down to the very last drop. He does this so that you would not suffer the wrath of God for all eternity.
He does all of this willingly. He does this gladly! Meditate upon those words, “All this I gladly suffer!” Christ your Lord willingly and gladly suffered for you out of His wondrous love for you (see Hebrews 12:1-2 and Isaiah 53).
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