A man was out for his daily walk on a beautiful country road when he came upon a terrible scene. A drunk driver had missed a turn and struck a tree going at high speed. The car was mangled and as the man watched it caught fire.
The driver was unconscious behind the wheel and as the flames grew higher it was obvious that the driver was going to be consumed by the flames if the man did nothing. Taking action was certainly going to be costly though as there was twisted metal and shattered glass everywhere and the fire was getting hotter. He called for help but as no one came, there was no other way. He would have to suffer greatly if that poor man was to be saved. Summoning his courage, the man dashed to the burning car over broken glass and though the flames and pulled the still incoherent driver to safety. The man who had been just out for a walk suffered severe burns and lacerations to his hands, legs and arms and in the process almost died while the drunk driver was unharmed once he sobered up. The rescuer was willing to endure the excruciating pain because he wanted to save the driver.
The man who saved the driver was a total hero who gave of himself unselfishly so that someone who did not deserve it could live. The unconscious driver only created the problem, he was unable to help himself out of trouble at all.
Fast forward a few months later and now the drunk driver says that he is so thankful for the man saving him HE now has burns and lacerations on his legs and hands. He did not do anything to save himself and had no ability to contribute to his rescue but he is so happy to be out of trouble that he is experiencing excruciating agony every day because of being saved. What?
Obviously this is hypothetical, but if you can, put yourself in the place of the man out for his morning stroll. The man who endured terrible pain and endured great sorrow so that another who did not deserve it could be saved. How in the world would the person you gave up everything to save suffering greatly make it any better for you?
I would think that perhaps I made a mistake as this person did not appreciate what I did for them. That my sacrifice of enduring pain innocently so that they did not have to was being thrown away. That the drunk driver was making himself the hero of the story and taking away from what I endured so that he could feel better about himself. Also I would question his sanity.
Do you think that Jesus thinks any differently about the Stigmata, the supposed appearance in someone’s hands and feet of the wounds of the cross Jesus was forced to endure on our behalf. Far from being a sign of great faith in Jesus, the stigmata is a sign that someone truly does not understand the nature and extent of the sacrifice involved and the character of Jesus.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed in agony over the suffering that was to come. The price Jesus was to pay on the cross was not just physical pain, which was significant, but also taking upon himself the punishment for the sins of mankind. The physical suffering was puny compared with the enormity of the cup of God’s Wrath being poured out on Jesus. Despite the fact that crucifixion was common in the Roman Empire and thus many people suffered wounds in their wrists and feet, only Jesus could go to this cross and pay this price. I say it again, ONLY JESUS could fill this position as He is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The sinless one who suffered and died for the sinful one. Peter was later crucified according to tradition and his death and suffering while terrible, did nothing for us personally and our position in Christ as Peter was not God and was not sinless.
Because only He could do it and it was the only way, Jesus went in with His eyes open willing to endure the great suffering so that those who He died for did not have to endure it. The whole point of our selfless, perfect loving Savior suffering the Wrath of God was that we do not have to. He bled from the wounds so that we do not have to, He was crucified so that we could be set free and He died so we do not have to. God Himself was the only one who could pay this price. (Let’s stop for a moment Praise the Lord!) He did not become man and die on the cross so that we could also die on the cross, that would be saying that It is not finished.
And yet, there have been those who essentially say that despite only Jesus being worthy to give His life and only Jesus being sinless and Jesus enduring all of this on their behalf, Jesus wants them to be magically crucified. His is the only crucifixion that means anything, but they should bear His wounds because Him bearing it was not enough? Because His victory over death is incomplete? Because it is right to take away attention from Jesus’ sacrifice and put it on ours? How in the world would the person Jesus suffered and died to save from God’s Wrath suffering a part of God’s Wrath ever make sense?
The short answers is it doesn’t. It just takes away from what Jesus did if man could do it too.
Man suffers here on earth and Jesus said we would. Christians suffer in the name of Jesus as a result of sin and the actions of other men who are opposed to Christ and Jesus said we would. The early church rejoiced in that suffering because it was sinful rebellious man striking out at them for following Jesus. But God Jesus ensured once and for all that we would not have to suffer from God’s punishment as a result of His Crucifixion. Replacing that death with anything else in the name of faith is just saying that Jesus is not enough.