And [Jesus] said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Luke 9:22)
When I was young and growing up on the family farm, my Dad showed me how to take a ripe head of wheat with one hand, grind it into the palm of the other, then blow the chaff away to reveal the golden kernels of ripe wheat, which we would then eat.
Every human being in this world is a mixture of good and evil. It has been that way ever since our first parent made a bargain with the evil one and gave him dominion over what God had entrusted to them. We still bear the Divine Image of our Creator, but that Image has been tarnished and our source code has been corrupted by the virus called sin.
We cannot fix or separate this messy mixture. But God can.
God the Son took on human flesh to become the one healthy wheat stalk in a field of diseased and dying stems. And then this God-human, Jesus, did something even more extraordinary. He pulled all the evil in the world onto Himself and suffered what we deserve so that His life-giving goodness could be released and spread throughout the entire world. He was ground, like a ripe head of wheat, into the palm of wicked men until there was nothing left of Him.
But, on the third day that followed, God’s goodness was available for all to see. Jesus rose from the dead and everyone who “eats” His goodness has the nutritious forgiveness and eternal life that He freely gives.
We humans tend to value and seek glory. But Jesus saved us and the whole world through weakness, suffering and shame. Are we ashamed of Jesus and the way He saved us? Do we quickly skip over His suffering to get to the glory on the other side? Or do we embrace Jesus and the way of suffering as our way in this world until God’s goodness is made complete in the new heavens and earth to come?
God is not a sadist. He does not cause our suffering. But He can use the suffering we experience to thrash the chaff out of our lives and help us to mature into golden, rich kernels that bring God’s blessings to others. All that He asks is that we embrace Him as He lovingly carries us through the fire and the darkness (cf. Isaiah 43:1-3a).
Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me and being willing to suffer so that I could have You and Your goodness in my life. Help me to hold tightly onto You as You carry me. Help me to trust that I am always safe in Your loving arms. Amen.