Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:26-27; see also Luke 24:46 and Acts 3:18, 17:3, 26:23)
Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. As many were astonished at him—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men— so shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand… (Isaiah 52:13-53:10)
Though the prophets had said that the Lord’s Servant would have to suffer and would be a man of sorrows, one of the heartbreaking moments of the Gospels is when . . . “At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) That Jesus experienced the terrifying prospect as a human being abandoned by His Father, cuts us to the heart. Orthodox scholar Daniel Fanous offers these thoughts:
“Why has Jesus been abandoned by the Father? And, how would it be possible for such an abandonment to take place?
The first question looks back to the beginning of humanity. Man from the time of Adam fell, and with him the entire creation. Followed to its finality, to its ultimate end, sin ‘when it is finished’ leaves man in a state of separation from God – in a word, abandoned. As the esteemed Cyril of Alexandria put it: ‘We had become accursed through Adam’s transgression and had fallen into the trap of death, abandoned by God.’ Clearly, it should be noted, the abandonment rests upon the sin of man and not the neglect of God. For it was man that took those tragic and catastrophic steps away from God, the result of which is abandonment. But man though abandoned, was not forgotten.” (TAUGHT BY GOD, p 230)
Our death, mortality, is presented in Scripture as resulting from our abandoning God. In death we experience this separation as the terrifying prospect that God has abandoned us. Even the Son of God incarnate as a human experiences this at His death. Christ however does it to undo the separation and to reconcile all of humanity to God. Christ not only empties Himself to become a human, but in his humanity, he experiences the depth of the separation from God that we all feel. Christ gives up everything for our salvation including Himself. Jesus Christ … “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
“And there is no clearer portrait of God than the crucified Christ, who has voluntarily surrendered everything for us. The cross—the limitless self-giving voluntary co-suffering that it represents, the extent of love and mercy that it conveys—reveals to us what it is to be God. Some theologians say that God is ‘cross-shaped.’ (Peter Bouteneff, HOW TO BE A SINNER, pp 133-134)
Despite feeling abandoned by His Father, Christ still in love prays for those who were intentionally trying to separate Him from God – His religious opponents because they didn’t believe He was from God or that God wanted Him. So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:41-43) St Irenaeus of Lyons writes:
“Now, by the fact that the Lord said on the cross, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34), Christ’s long-suffering, patience, compassion, and goodness are shown forth, inasmuch as He Himself who suffered also excused those who had treated Him wickedly. For the Word of God who told us, love your enemies and pray for those who hate you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-28), did just that on the cross, loving the human race so much that He prayed even for those who put Him to death.” (AGAINST THE HERESIES Book 3, p 90)
Because of us it was necessary for Christ to suffer and die. Because of us Christ chooses to suffer and die so that we might know the love of God for us.