Responding to the Passion of Jesus (Week 5)

2020: A Year of Celebration!

“Comfort the Suffering!” (Part 2)

Key Verses:  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Crucifixion Narrative: Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19

Written and delivered by Pastor Jerry Ingalls from the building of the First Baptist Church of New Castle, Indiana through an on-line service to the Church of Jesus Christ.


Today is Palm Sunday. On this day we enter “Holy Week” or the “Passion Week”. It is a week normally filled with times set apart for silence & solitude, prayer & reflection, special gatherings and times in remembrance of Jesus and His Passion. During this unique time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing our best to both protect you by keeping you home and not inviting you into a situation that is potentially harmful to you and dangerous for your neighbor, while still bringing to you special services online (Holy Thursday & Good Friday at 6:30 pm) and times to take communion in your own home during the Holy Thursday Service at 6:30 pm and Resurrection Sunday Service at 10:30 am this Easter Sunday.


Let’s talk briefly about the opportunity for you to take communion in your home twice this coming week. As your pastor, this is a “seize the moment” opportunity. For me, it is beautiful and empowering, to invite you to the Table this Thursday night and next Sunday morning, for each of your households to learn how to participate in the common cup of Jesus Christ in your own home. I discern that this is an important step for many of us: to bring communion home and to empower parents and grandparents to be the spiritual leaders of their own households. For you to see your home as sacred and yourself as a spiritual leader to your family. God has called you to this and has already empowered you with His presence. So, when you go pick up your eggs and milk this week, pick up some grape juice and bread. Nothing costly or fancy is required. Have them ready for Thursday night at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:30. Call the church office or click on the contact us button on the webpage if you can’t shop right now or have questions.


On a personal note: I do miss our gatherings, there is something significantly missing in our lives when we can’t gather together on a regular basis. This grieves me more than you know: We lose so much of what God calls us to be as the community of God’s family when we think we can do church in our own homes, not physically with our brothers and sisters, but there is no other right or reasonable way to face these difficult days, so we must make do and make the best use of technology. I ask you though to allow yourself to anticipate our coming back together, to let the hope of our physical proximity one day to cause you to realize the importance of our weekly gatherings as a significant part of your future life, on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Until then, please remain home and live in agreement with all efforts for community well-being.


Many of us are praying and hoping we can be together soon, Lord willing in May. I love you and miss you! Your pastors, elders, and leaders honestly hope the daily phone messages, the weekly emails, and the online services through our webpage, FB Live, and YouTube are helping each of you. That the resources are helping you grow in Christ. Please also utilize the new google spreadsheet, that we have sent out twice, to ensure every person in our congregation is being connected with personally. I can sincerely say that we are doing our best in these difficult days to communicate with you and to help keep people personally connected. These are difficult times for all of us. Please pray for us, as we pray for you.


In today’s teaching, we are going to continue to learn what I introduced to you last week: Jesus suffered so that we can be comforted; therefore, let us comfort those who are suffering! Our primary scripture for this lesson is from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 3-5,


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.


I hope you took time to read through the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 26-27, this week If so, you saw that Jesus was “social distanced”, to the max! In Matthew 26-27 Jesus was:

  • Abandoned by people: Matthew 26:69-75;
  • Betrayed by people: Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25, 47-56;
  • Condemned by people: Matthew 27:1-5; 24-26;

and then Jesus

  • Died on the Cross for all people: Matthew 27:32-66


This is the extravagant love and amazing grace of our God for the world! Jesus suffered so that we can be comforted; therefore, let us comfort those who are suffering!


We are now going to focus on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As I prepared for this sermon, I studied not just the Matthew 27 account of Jesus’ death, but also Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. During this Holy Week, I encourage you to saturate yourself in these four accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and the immediate events that led up to the Cross of Calvary. Once again, you will find those accounts in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. Please read them and allow the extent of Jesus’ suffering for us to pierce your own heart and mind.


Listen to what the finished work on the Cross of Calvary has made possible for you. Paul’s words from Romans 8:1-4,


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


This is the Good News of Jesus Christ: There is no condemnation for those who belong to God in a relationship with Jesus! On the Cross, Jesus faced the horror of taking on Himself all of humanity’s sin even though He never sinned Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21) and in doing so Jesus experienced becoming the curse—He was cut off from God (Galatians 3:13), becoming the forsaken of God in our place (Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me”). Jesus took the punishment for sin; so that, we can have God’s favor and protection in our lives—the blessing of never having to face God’s wrath and condemnation (John 3:18, 36).


Jesus came into this broken world to heal it! In fact, Jesus gave Himself over to death so that we can have life, not just eternally with Him, but also abundantly (John 10:10). The abundant life means our lives are filled with God’s peace and power through His presence in us. The abundant life includes an invitation to join with Jesus in the work of healing by how we respond to our own and other’s suffering: the grief, pain, anger, isolation, and loneliness of these dark days.


Jesus suffered so that we can be comforted; therefore, let us comfort those who are suffering!


Are you willing to share with Jesus in His suffering, so that you can share with Him in bringing comfort to others? How are you reaching out to people during the coronavirus pandemic?


Jesus knows your suffering and can sympathize with you. You are not alone in your loneliness, isolation, or suffering and in fact, the God of peace is with you. God knows how to care for your needs. I invite you to “be still” and listen to God in this time. Truly listen. Set apart a space in your home and prioritize time every day to stop for 10 minutes to simply “be still”.


Please guard your mind against the lies of the world and your heart from the heavy loads of people’s brokenness and despair. You are not the sum total of your own or other people’s choices—do not be a slave to fear, because you are a beloved child of God!


A friend said to me about this truth,


When circumstances around us change, whether due to our decisions, the decisions of others that affect us tangibly, or things that are legitimately out of our control, it is easy to become defensive, embarrassed, or withdrawn when we can no longer present that image of “The American Dream” or whatever standard we feel we are expected to achieve. But, if our aim is to place our identity as a child of God in the forefront of our minds, then just maybe “the things of Earth will grow strangely dim.”


When we stop and listen for God through His Word and through prayer, He changes our perspective, but we must learn to “be still”—to quiet all the other voices and focus on our minds on God’s promises and God’s ways. We don’t know the ‘why’ of this present darkness, but we can know the ‘how’ of our response to dark days: to live by faith today, with hope for tomorrow! Shine the Light of the Word for all to see the glory of God in and through us (Matthew 5:14-16).


How do we shine brightly like stars in this dark night?


In Romans 12:9-21, Paul teaches us how to live the hope given to us through Jesus Christ:


Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty [proud/arrogant], but associate with the lowly [humble/meek]. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Jesus suffered so that we can be comforted; therefore, let us comfort those who are suffering! Your days are in His hands and His hands were spread as the East is to the West on the Cross of Calvary so that you can overcome evil with good, here and now, today. This is the work of the Cross for you, in you, and through you!


Remember, God is not surprised by COVID-19. Never forget, that His Church is His Plan A to bring comfort to those who are suffering in this world! You and me! Bring the comfort that Jesus Christ has given you to the world that so desperately needs comfort in the midst of such horrific suffering.


Don’t let the hurts of this life determine the way you live your life. Here is a testimony from a friend in our church, “This is a thought I have to remind myself of almost daily. Sometimes I truly feel personally victimized by my own life… The nights we have laid in bed and said to the other person ‘did today even really happen?’ But I find resilience in Christ. Not in a trite, cross-stitched platitude kind of way, but in the sense that I wrestle with Jesus about what on Earth He is doing in my life and why things are allowed to happen and what their larger purpose can possibly be; without exception, these times of seeking understanding have driven me closer to Christ and never further away.”


There is a lot of suffering, here and now, and if the predictions of medical experts are accurate, we are going to see much more suffering through April and into May. But Christ never promised us we wouldn’t suffer. We are suffering as co-heirs with Christ.


In John 16:33, Jesus told His disciples to expect suffering and not lose focus, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


Praise God for the finished work of the Cross!


Jesus is our Comforter and He can commiserate with us because he has suffered greatly! His suffering gives our suffering perspective! His actions for us gives our actions direction and focus!


I pray for all who are in Christ Jesus: May the Holy Spirit who lives in you activate in your heart and mind the promises of God and cause you to live with faith, hope, and love. May the Comforter lead you as you pray for God’s daily direction through this time of suffering.


Jesus suffered so that we can be comforted; therefore, let us comfort those who are suffering!



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