Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Why Did Jesus Christ Suffer?

Father John J. Lombardi 

A pilgrim was accompanying two new converts to the Faith, and she said they asked, "Why did Jesus have to suffer so much?"

Scripture answers…

  • "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him may not perish but have eternal life." (+Jn 3:16)…Comment: "God SO loved the world"-Yes!-even though we sin, and sin again, and hurt Him-He still loves us, tracks us down and gives us time and grace to change, and change again: "He SO loved the world"-you and I: He wants everyone to be saved (1Tim 2:4) and from the slavery to sin (1 Tim. 1:15--anything that hurts God and blocks our own holiness), and come to His Trinitarian Life (Jn 17:21).
  • "In this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us." +I Jn3:16…See commentary below…

Sacred Tradition counsels…

  • St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his holy book, "The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ" (a classic-get it, consume it!), relates the following (as well as the "Stations of the Cross" which follow for your Holy Week devotions)
  • "St. John Chrysostom says: 'This was the principal cause of the Passion of our Lord; he wished it to be known how great was the love of God for man-of God, who would rather be loved than feared.' …St Thomas (Aquinas) adds, 'By this (the Passion) man understands the greatness of the love of God to man'…St. Bernard says, "He endured much weariness that he might bind man to love Him much,' and 'The secrets of his heart are revealed through the wounds of His body."

We need to meditate (i.e., in prayer: thinking deeply, lovingly) upon the Passion of Jesus this week: stop and reflect on how He actually "laid down His life"; let the images imprint themselves in you, then form affections of love from these; and resolve to refrain from sin and love God-and neighbor-more: heroically, as did Jesus Christ and the Saints.

Stations of the Cross…

FIRST STATION: Jesus is condemned to Death.

Consider that Jesus, after having been scourged and crowned with thorns, was unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the cross.

SECOND STATION: Jesus is made to bear His Cross.

Consider that Jesus, in making this journey with the cross on his shoulders, thought of us, and offered for us to His Father the death that He was about to undergo.

THIRD STATION: Jesus falls the First Time under His Cross.

Consider this first fall of Jesus under His Cross. His flesh was torn by the scourges, his head crowned with thorns, and He has lost a great quantity of blood. He was so weakened that He could scarcely walk, and yet He had to carry this great load upon His shoulders. The soldiers struck him rudely, and thus He fell several times in His journey.

FOURTH STATION: Jesus meets His afflicted Mother.

Consider the meeting of the son and the Mother, which took place on this journey. Jesus and Mary looked at each other, and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly.

FIFTH STATION: The Cyrenian helps Jesus to carry His Cross.

Consider that the Jews seeing that at each step Jesus, from weakness, was on the point of expiring, and fearing that He would die on the way, when they wished Him to die the ignominious death of the cross, constrained Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross behind our Lord.

SIXTH STATION: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus.

Consider that the holy woman named Veronica, seeing Jesus so afflicted, and His face bathed in sweat and blood, presented Him with a towel, with which He wiped His adorable face, leaving on it the impression of His holy countenance.

SEVENTH STATION: Jesus falls the Second Time.

Consider the second fall of Jesus under the cross,--a fall which renews the pain of all the wounds of the head and members of our afflicted Lord.

EIGHTH STATION: Jesus speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem.

Consider that those women wept with compassion at seeing Jesus in so pitiable a state, streaming with blood, as He walked along. But Jesus said to them, "Weep not for Me, but for your children."

NINTH STATION: Jesus falls the Third Time.

Consider the third fall of Jesus Christ. His weakness was extreme, and the cruelty of His executioners excessive, who tried to hasten His steps when He had scarcely strength to move.

TENTH STATION: Jesus is stripped of His Garments.

Consider the violence with which the executioners stripped Jesus. His inner garments adhered to His torn flesh, and they dragged them off so roughly that the skin came with them. Compassionate, your Savior thus cruelly treated, and say to Him: My innocent Jesus, by the merits of the torment that Thou hast felt, help me to strip myself o all affection to things of earth.

ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

Consider that Jesus, after being thrown on the cross, extended His hands, and offered to His Eternal Father the sacrifice of His life for our salvation. These barbarians fastened Him with nails; and then, raising the cross, leave Him to die with anguish on this infamous gibbet.

TWELFTH STATION: Jesus dies on the Cross.

Consider that thy Jesus, after three hours' agony on the cross, consumed at length with anguish, abandons Himself to the weight of His body, bows His head and dies.

THIRTEENTH STATION: Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

Consider that, our Lord having expired, two of His disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, took Him down from the cross, and placed Him in the arms of His afflicted mother, who received Him with unutterable tenderness, and pressed Him to her bosom.

FOURTEENTH STATION: Jesus is placed in the Sepulchre.

Consider that the disciples carried the body of Jesus to bury it, accompanied by His holy Mother, who arranged it in the sepulcher with her own hands. They then closed the tomb and all withdrew.


Christ enters into Jerusalem to accomplish His Paschal Mystery. The Passion of the Lord dominates these days. The Paschal fast should be observed everywhere on Good Friday and continued, where possible, on Holy Saturday. In this way the people of God will receive the joys of the Lord's resurrection with uplifted and responsive hearts" (Vatican II/Order of Christian Worship)… Commemorate these days by PRAYER, SACRIFICES and SERVICE-walk heroically this Week with Jesus Christ.

Read other Sermons by Father John J. Lombardi