The Afflictions of Love
by Francis Frangipane
Wounding is inevitable if we are following Christ. Jesus was both "marred" (Isa. 52:14) and "wounded" (Zech. 13:6), and if we are sincere in our pursuit of His nature, we will suffer as well. How else can love be perfected?
Yet, let us beware. We either become Christlike and forgive, or we enter a spiritual time warp where we abide continually in the memory of our wounding. Like a systemic disease, the hurtful memories destroy every aspect of our reality. In truth, apart from God, the wounding that life inflicts is incurable. God has decreed that only Christ in us can survive.
Intercessors live on the frontier of change. We are positioned to stand between the needs of man and the provision of God. Because we are the agents of redemption, Satan will always seek the means to offend, discourage, silence, or otherwise steal the strength of our prayers. The wounding we receive must be interpreted in light of God's promise to reverse the effects of evil and make them work for our good (Rom. 8:28). Since spiritual assaults are inevitable, we must discover how God uses our wounds as the means to greater power. This was exactly how Christ brought redemption to the world.
Jesus knew that maintaining love and forgiveness in the midst of suffering was the key that unlocked the power of redemption. Isaiah 53:11 tells us, "By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities."
Jesus possessed "revelation knowledge" into the mystery of God. He knew that the secret to unleashing world-transforming power was found at the cross. The terrible offense of the cross became the place of redemption for the world. Yet, remember, Jesus calls us to a cross as well. (See Matthew 16:24.) Wounding is simply an altar upon which our sacrifice to God is prepared.
Listen again to Isaiah's prophetic description of Jesus' life. His words, at first, seem startling, but as we read, we discover a most profound truth concerning the power of woundedness. He wrote,
"But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand" (Isa. 53:10).
How did Jesus obtain the power of God's pleasure and have it prosper in His hands? During His times of crushing, woundedness, and devastation, instead of retaliating, He rendered Himself "as a guilt offering."
The crushing is not a disaster; it is an opportunity. You see, our purposeful love may or may not touch the sinner's heart, but it always touches the heart of God. We are crushed by people, but we need to allow the crushing to ascend as an offering to God. The far greater benefit is the effect our mercy has on the Father. If we truly want to be instruments of God's good pleasure, then it is redemption, not wrath, that must prosper in our hands.
So, when Christ encounters conflict, even though He is the Lion of Judah, He comes as the Lamb of God. Even when He is outwardly stern, His loving heart is always mindful that He is the "guilt offering." Thus, Jesus not only asks the Father to forgive those who have wounded Him, but also numbers Himself with the transgressors and intercedes for them (Isa. 53:12). He does this because the Father takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Ezek. 33:11), and it is the pleasure of God that Jesus seeks.
Is this not the wonder and mystery, yes, and the power, of Christ's cross? In anguish and sorrow, wounded in heart and soul, still He offered Himself for His executioners' sins. Without visible evidence of success, deemed a sinner and a failure before man, He courageously held true to mercy. In the depth of terrible crushing, He let love attain its most glorious perfection. He uttered the immortal words, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
Christ could have escaped. As the Romans came to arrest Him, He told Peter, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). In less than a heartbeat, the skies would have been flooded with thousands of warring angels. Yes, Jesus could have escaped, but mankind would have perished. Christ chose to go to hell for us rather than return to heaven without us. Instead of condemning mankind, He rendered "Himself as a guilt offering" (Isa. 53:10, emphasis added). He prayed the mercy prayer, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34).
Jesus said, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12). We assume He meant that we would work His miracles, but Jesus did not limit His definition of "works" to the miraculous. The works He didthe redemptive life, the mercy cry, the identification with sinners, rendering Himself a guilt offeringall the works He did, we will "do also."
Thus, because He lives within us, we see that Isaiah 53 does not apply exclusively to Jesus; it also becomes the blueprint for Christ in us. Indeed, was this not part of His reward, that He would see His offspring (Isa. 53:10)? Beloved, we are the progeny of Christ.
Read these words from Paul's heart:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Col. 1:24).
What did the apostle mean? Did not Christ fully pay mankind's debts once and for all? Did Paul imply that we now take Jesus' place? No, we will never take Jesus' place. It means that Jesus has come to take our place. The Son of God manifests all the aspects of His redemptive, sacrificial life through us. Indeed, "as He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).
Paul not only identified with Christ in his personal salvation, but he was also consumed with Christ's purpose. He wrote, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil. 3:10).
What a wondrous reality is the "fellowship of His sufferings." Here, in choosing to yoke our existence with Christ's purpose, we find true friendship with Jesus. This is intimacy with Christ. The sufferings of Christ are not the sorrows typically endured by mankind. They are the afflictions of love. They bring us closer to Jesus. United with Him, we increase the pleasure of God.
Father, I see You have had no higher purpose for me but to manifest through my life the nature of Your Son. I surrender to Christ, rendering myself not merely as a judge or critic, but as an offering for those who have brought wounding to my soul. May the fragrance of my worship remind You of Jesus, and may You forgive and cleanse the world around me.