Why did Christ suffer?
What need was there for the passionless God to suffer in His flesh so terribly from humanity? There was, brethren, no need for God to subject Himself to such dishonor and such suffering on earth. His self-sacrifice is entirely voluntary, – He did not have to become incarnate, suffer and die. However, in that case all of us, sinners and enemies of God, would have become eternal captives of the devil and would have been eternally damned. But in His mercy, and being unable to see mankind tormented by the devil, the Lord came to free us from this slavery and eternal torment. And to free us from the enemy’s bonds, which we ourselves gladly accept, the Lord became the most obedient servant of His Divine Father, to Whom we were – and still constantly are – disobedient, and by means of His human body and His human soul, by human effort supported by Divinity, He vanquished the tempter – the devil, into whose bondage we had given ourselves so easily and continue even now to give ourselves through our sins. Furthermore, in order to free us from the eternal torments of hell, to which, in all justice, our eternal souls should have been subjected as captives of the devil, He, the pre-eternal God, wished to endure our torments Himself by means of His human nature. And so, as you can read and hear from the Gospel, He did endure these torments for our sake. He endured all the humiliation and all the cruelty of torture from people and from demons, in order to pluck us out of hell, where we would have stayed in eternal torment if it were not for our Saviour.
The cruelty of Christ’s passion
“My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Thus cried out the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for the sins of the world and, consequently, for our sins too, dear brethren. My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me? – He cried out in His human flesh, which had frailties but no sins. But how could God the Father abandon His only-begotten, His beloved Son, Whom He had sent into the world for the salvation of the world? Divinity was inseparable from the human nature of Jesus Christ. This abandonment meant that the human nature in Jesus Christ was left to that terrible, mortal sorrow which He had experienced in the garden of Gethsemane before being seized by the band of villains. Already at that time He had been horrified and had begun to grieve, saying to His disciples: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me.” Just think of how terrible was the physical suffering and the grief of the all-just, all-loving and sensitive soul of the Son of God, Who was tortured for the sins of mankind, the sins of Adam and Eve and all their progeny, and – therefore – for our sins too, dear brethren!
St. John of Kronstadt