It was a brutal collision when perfection ran into a creation that had been shaped by sin. Deity took on flesh and blood, and sparks flew. It started innocently enough with a baby born on the fringes of society among the animals. Oh yes, a few knew. Mary and Joseph were let in on the secret. Shepherds in a field were notified. Sometime later a star marked the way for wise men. An unnerved king butchered babies, and the infant Messiah was shuttled off to Egypt. There were clues along the way but nothing openly definitive.
Three decades passed before He went public and rocked the establishment. The Son of God met with perpetual conflict from the covenant people of God. He simply did not behave as they had determined that he should. The prophets had laid the groundwork and John the Baptist proclaimed His arrival, but this was not what they expected. He violated their self-imposed principles and exposed their hypocrisy. As we might have predicted, they did not receive it well.
He suffered in every way imaginable. He bore our sins. He was rejected. Beaten. Spit upon. He experienced it all. He had to. It was essential, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10).” For Jesus to become everything we needed, He had to suffer. It brought Him to completion.
He was educated through those experiences. We speak of “the college of hard knocks,” but He earned His degree in a way that we never will. He has a PHD in suffering. There is a vast difference between “book-learning” and being involved in the tussle. He knows the blood, sweat and tears that come with the warfare of this world. It is one troublesome place, and He overcame it. He leads us to victory and opened the door to the Lord of grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:14-16). His blood marks the trail.
He is everything for us because of His suffering. There is nothing apart from that. He learned through suffering. He was perfected in the same way. Having been schooled through the process, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for the obedient (Hebrews 5:8-10). The offer is on the table for every soul who will yield. The Son of God stepped away from the glory which He had always shared with His Father so that He could suffer to save us. It is the story of a love so amazing that we can scarcely take it in.
It isn’t so much that we embrace the gospel as it is that the gospel embraces us. It seizes our hearts, and we are changed from the inside out. Suffering has always been an integral part of the program. Jesus first, and we follow (Romans 8:16-17).