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April 27, 2021

Great Tuesday - The Sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt. 26:2).

The closer the days of the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ approached, the more clearly He spoke to the disciples that He needed to suffer in order to thus gradually prepare them for His sufferings. Let us prepare, listeners, ourselves for the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ by meditating on them.

When thinking about the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, the following thought often comes: why should not the Lord give up suffering? He was free to go or not to suffer, whole legions of God's Angels were ready to stand up for Him. Indeed, all of this is true, listeners. But what would have happened to us if Jesus Christ had not gone to suffer? If He had not suffered, then we should have suffered eternally. No matter how we live on earth, we would not escape hades if Jesus Christ did not descend into hades. But now, with Jesus Christ having suffered, we are free from eternal suffering, now it completely depends on our will - to go to hell or to heaven after death.

The temporary suffering of Jesus Christ has replaced our eternal suffering that we should have endured forever in hell for our sins. He endured everything for us on earth. Let's imagine that some criminal must go into exile for his crimes, to eternal work. The condemnation has already been signed; execution, which could replace this punishment, the criminal cannot bear, and therefore he must certainly go, and now he is already underway. But suddenly a mediator appears, who undertakes to endure the penalty assigned to the criminal, so that the criminal will be freed from eternal exile; and now the mediator suffers, and freedom returns to the criminal. Jesus Christ did the same or almost the same. All people, as transgressors of the Law of God, must endure eternal torment, but Jesus Christ suffered for them, and they are now free from this torment.

Imagine, listeners, what the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ were! Gather the sins of all people - those who have lived, and those who live, and those who will live, place the blame and the burden of all these sins on Jesus Christ and judge what His suffering should be! What was it like for Him to suffer for the sins of all people, and to suffer in such a way that this suffering equaled eternal torment? What was it like for Jesus Christ to endure in a few days what the human race had to endure for all eternity?

But you ask: was it really impossible to do without it? Couldn't God have made it so that we would not suffer, and Jesus Christ would not suffer? What are we to discuss about this, listeners? God did it, so otherwise it was impossible. Let us rather consider how God is merciful to us sinners, and how strict towards our sins. God wanted His beloved Son to suffer, so we do not suffer? If the justice of God has demanded that the Most Holy One suffer, what kind of mercy can sinners expect? For the sins of others, Jesus Christ suffered so much, what should we expect, ourselves, who sin? God did not spare His Only Begotten Son, can He spare us for our own sins?

So, this is where meditations on the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ should lead us, these are the thoughts that should occupy us especially in these days! Christ suffered for the sins of others, can we avoid suffering when we do not cleanse our sins by repentance and atone for them by faith in Jesus Christ, who suffered for us? Amen.