The afflictions of the righteous

girl-517555_640Psalm 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

The words aptly describe the experience of Jesus. He faced the ultimate affliction as God who became man, who was treated with ignominy and died a long drawn-out painful death. But he was delivered from his affliction by the resurrection from the dead. He is now above everything humans can be subjected to.

Jesus Christ is the one called “the righteous (1John 2:1).” Though without sin, for which he could rightly be afflicted, he was afflicted because of our sins. Isaiah wrote that Jesus was smitten for our iniquity, the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him (Isaiah 53).

He was God stripped of his ability so that man can gain the ability of God. And we should follow in his steps and see affliction as a means to experience the greater glory of God, while Jesus bore the glory of God on earth, after he rose from the dead, he entered into a greater glory. Before he died he prayed that God will restore to him the glory he had with him from the beginning (John 17). And that was what happened.

But did Jesus have to go through the path of affliction, to enter into his glory, or was it a mere example for us to follow? It is not this or that; it is this and that. It is both.

Jesus’ affliction was necessary

Jesus is the way maker (John 14:6). And the way to God is through his torn flesh (Hebrews 10:19-22), which the veil covering the holy of holies which was torn at his death represented (Mark 15:37-38). And through his torn flesh, he released grace to us.

We have the mercy of God released to us because the torn flesh of Jesus represents the wrath of God on him, which paved the way for us to experience the love of God. That he was weak meant we would experience the strength of God, that he carried our sins makes us the righteousness of God.

Without the death of Jesus, the horror of sin would have been underplayed, and the wrath of God would not have been fully satisfied, and we would not be saved.

The demands of God for judgment to come upon man for sin would have been left unsatisfied without the death on the cross, and we would remained lost. The curse of the law would not have been taken care of, if Jesus did not hang to his death on a tree, seeing that the bible says that cursed is the one who hangs upon a tree (Galatians 3:13-14). And it is through that means that the blessing of Abraham will legally come upon the Gentiles by faith. It is by faith because Jesus is divine and faith can reach him as we identify with him in his resurrection.

The blessing infused the Spirit of God into us, as we passed from death into life. We experience spiritual innervation, getting joined to God when Christ was cut off through death because of our sin.

The death of Jesus was necessary. It was not for fun that the Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is not remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). And as the example in the Old Testament showed that, the shed in blood is gotten when the animal is killed. The bible affirmed Jesus to be the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

There is no escaping the power of the rising sun of righteousness- Jesus (Malachi 4). Under his influence we are set apart as his brothers, as children of God, as servants of God. We are saved and set on a path of righteousness.

Jesus was clear that he has not come to be served by to serve and give his life as ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). It is not something done lightly, done if there was another option.

Giving your life as a ransom is not bread and butter. It cost God something. It is a revelation of the love of God to humanity. When we receive Jesus, we receive the love of God and that transforms us. It draws us, and we are elevated to his height. Jesus said: if be lifted up I will draw all men to me (John 12:32). He was lifted up in the death on the cross, lifted up above the death, and we get to be at his level. Otherwise, we will remain low in sin.

Jesus’ affliction is an example

Peter said that we should arm ourselves with the mind that he who suffers ceases from sin, with an eye on the example of Jesus. Christ has suffered for our sins and afterwards was glorified. He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin (1Peter 4:1).

The bible says that we should rejoice when we fall into divers trials because the trial of faith, which is as precious as gold, will only make us better, and blessed (James 1:2-4, 1Peter 1:17).

Affliction is part of the means for us to mature in the Christian walk. Paul said that he will boast in weakness (affliction shows us our weakness) so that the glory of God will be manifested in him (2Corinthians 12:7-9). The bible says that if we suffer with him we would also be glorified with him (2Timothy 2:12).

Moses was described as one who chose the affliction of Christ to the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26). Peter and other apostles rejoiced when they were given strokes of chain by their detractors, as a warning not to again speak about Jesus (Acts 5:40-42), which they continued to do. They were happy they had the opportunity to identify with Christ.

Job said: after God has tried me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10). There is the fiery furnace of affliction, which is part of the purification process. And Paul said that he who will live righteous in this world will suffer persecution (2Timothy 3:12).

Jesus says we should rejoice when we are hated because that is what was done to the revered prophets of old, who were important to God (Luke 6:22-23). The point is that the more we are persecuted, the more important we are in the hand of God. Though it is not something we should court, we should not be ignorant of the possibility of being persecuted.

How valuable you are is determined by the persecution the devil stirs up against us. Jesus was persecuted to the point of death, and it was no ordinary death, but the infamously painful death on the cross.

There was a woman who gave birth to a child in the book of revelation, who attracted the special persecution attention of the devil, who directed a flood against her to swallow her up (Revelation 12). But she was supernaturally preserved.

Similarly, the bible says that God will not allow us to be tempted more that we can bear, but he will with it provide a way of escape (1Corinthians 10:13). Even though Jesus was sorely persecuted, death was the way of escape, death in the hand of his tormentors.

The book of Romans says that we rejoice in tribulation, because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5). The persecution does not draw us back because we are not afraid of those who can only have an effect on us in this world and not in the afterlife (Matthew 10:28), but it strengthens our attachment (love) to God.

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