Introduction: Would you volunteer to suffer? This last lesson in our
studies on surviving difficult times looks at one who volunteered to
suffer. I assume we all would like to avoid difficult times. As we
have learned, difficult times generally come to us in two different
ways. We either do something stupid and get into difficulty, or
something we cannot control happens and creates suffering for us.
What about this idea of choosing to suffer? Would you, if given
enough time to think about it, choose to suffer? Standing behind
this group of studies is the astonishing fact that our God chose to
suffer terribly. Why did He do that? Let’s jump into our study and
see what we can learn about this amazing decision and how it should
shape our attitude about suffering and our God!

  1. God’s Justice

    1. Put yourself in God’s place when it comes to solving the
      sin problem. As we studied last week, humans have rejected
      and disbelieved God because they want to be like God.
      ( Genesis 3:1-6) Apparently, humans think some sort of
      competition with God is appropriate. If you were God, how
      would you bring humans back to you?

      1. Would you even try?

      2. What considerations would you balance?

    2. Read Genesis 3:2-3. Apart from God executing sinners, is
      this statement true? (We all know it is true. We observe
      in our world that sin results in death. All sorts of
      decisions which lead to death result from sin.)

    3. How does your statement (remember, you are in God’s place
      for purposes of the discussion right now) about sin
      causing death, hedge in your potential solution to sin?
      (This is a critical. Satan says sin does not lead to
      death, you told Adam and Eve it did. Satan specifically
      challenges you on this point.)

      1. If this hedges you(God)in, why did you say it?
        (Because it is true. The question is, how does sin
        cause death? Is it a natural result? Or, is it the
        execution of God’s judgment? Or, both?)

    4. Now back to your accustomed role as a human. Remember the
      sacrificial service in the temple ( Leviticus 1:4-5)? What
      was the point of all of that? (That sin leads to death –
      in this case an animal dies for your sins. This was not a
      “natural result,” this is an execution. This would lead a
      human to conclude that sin leads to an execution.)

    5. God’s words and deeds would naturally lead us to believe
      that sin results in death by execution. That means sin is
      punished by the sentence of death. Read Romans 3:21-26.
      This text gives us one reason why Jesus (and His Father)
      made the deliberate decision that Jesus should suffer
      terribly. What is it? (Justice.)

      1. What kind of justice is this? ( Romans 3:25 tells us
        that sin demands punishment. That is the same
        conclusion we drew from God’s words and deeds up to
        that time. Punishment for sin is just.)

        1. If God can delay punishment for sin, why can’t
          He just forget about it? Why can’t He change His
          rules so that sin no longer need be punished
          every time?

        2. Have you ever seen any justice like we see
          describe in Romans 3 before? (This is
          astonishing. God died for sin to demonstrate His
          brand of “justice.” It is not a justice that I
          normally see in the world.)

      2. How can Romans 3:25 say that God had not previously
        punished sins? What about all those animals which
        died? (God was not kidding Adam and Eve in the Garden
        of Eden. Sin brings death. Not the death of animals,
        but your death. The offering of the animals did not
        “forgive” the sins of the people. It did not satisfy
        the law. It simply pointed towards the future
        penalty that would we paid by the death of Jesus.)

      3. How does Jesus satisfy the penalty for sin? It is not
        His sin? Why is He a better solution than killing a
        bunch of animals? (I have always had trouble with the
        logic of this, but here is my best explanation. Adam
        and Eve were perfect until they sinned. By their sin,
        we all became sinful ( Romans 5:12-14) whether or not
        we actually sinned. God could have executed judgment
        (justice) on Adam and Eve at the moment of their sin.
        (Thus sparing the rest of us from their sin.) Or, God
        could let the natural working of sin take its course.
        When Jesus came to earth, He came as Adam and Eve
        came, which is to say; perfect. He lived a sinless
        life, and He died as a substitute for Adam and Eve
        ( Romans 5:15-17). The result is life for the rest of

        1. Would another human being have been sufficient?
          (Another human being, post Adam, would have been
          infected with Adam’s sin. Jesus is our Creator
          ( John 1:1-3), the Creator can logically die in
          the place of His creation.)

          1. Look at this from a little different
            angle. Does the idea of paying a ransom to
            a kidnapper make sense? (The Bible
            Knowledge Commentary points out that the
            Greek word for “redemption” comes from the
            Greek root word for “a ransom payment.”)

    6. When I look at the “justice” side of Jesus’ suffering, I
      come away impressed with just how seriously a righteous
      God takes sin. Sin brings death and sinners deserve
      execution. The Christian who fails to take the sin in his
      life seriously is just missing the obvious!

    7. Let’s summarize what we have learned. God told humans from
      the very beginning that the punishment for sin is death.
      They sinned anyway and plunged the rest of us into sin.
      God illustrated the link between sin and death by the
      sanctuary service – but He did not punish sin at the time.
      Ultimately, God suffered and died to pay the penalty for
      our sins. Just as Eve plunged us into death, so Jesus
      plunged us back into life! We see the “legal” reason why
      God died, what we don’t see is why He should volunteer to
      suffer so greatly. Let’s look at that next.

  2. God’s Love

    1. Read Romans 5:6-8. What other reason motivated God to
      suffer terribly on our behalf? (His love!)

      1. Why does Paul stress the fact that God died for us
        “while we were still sinners?” (We were not friends
        of God. We were enemies because of our sins. We were
        in rebellion against Him! This is wildly
        extraordinary love!)

    2. What tension do you see between God’s justice and His
      love? (The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Romans 3:25-26
      says “God’s divine dilemma was how to satisfy His own
      righteousness and its demands against sinful people, and
      at the same time how to demonstrate His grace, love and
      mercy to restore rebellious, alienated creatures to

      1. If a police officer pulls you over for speeding, how
        do you react?

      2. If you are hauled before a judge to respond to
        something you did, how do you react?

      3. If someone accomplishes a difficult task on your
        behalf (for free), how do you react?

      4. If someone sacrifices a great deal for you, how do
        you react?

        1. Put the answers to the prior four questions all
          in one basket and you get a peek into the nature
          of God’s thinking about us (rebels) and how to
          solve our sin problem.

  3. The Crucible Life

    1. As we have seen, Jesus suffered for us because of His
      justice and His love. To what degree does this explain the
      universe of our suffering?

      1. Let’s break it down. How much of our suffering is
        justice? How much is due to mistakes we have made?

        1. How much of our suffering is due to the mistakes
          of others?

      2. How much of our suffering is due to our love for

    2. Is Jesus our example in every one of these situations? (He
      walked through the fire before us in every kind of

    3. Friend, there are many lessons in what Jesus has done for
      us. One of them is the seriousness of sin. Another is
      this: if you want to limit your suffering, then avoid sin.
      Another lesson is that when you suffer because of
      following Jesus, rejoice! The last lesson is the
      unbelievable, extraordinary, wildly extravagant love Jesus
      has for us! Won’t you decide today to follow Him?

  4. Next week: We start a new series of studies on Discipleship.