DID OUR LORD SUFFER PHYSICAL PAIN IN HIS CRUCIFIXION?
Objectors to the idea that our Lord suffered horribly must consider the words of those texts that describe His experiences.
Some will go so far as to deny that that Jesus actually suffered pain considering the story of Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego. They often state that there's just no reason not to think God offered Jesus the same protection as Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego. Particularly when objectors consider that Jesus didn't need to suffer physical pain to carry out his God given mission.
Finally, objectors claim that the word "suffer" is used in the sense of "allow."
II) SHADRACK, MESHACK, AND ABEDNEGO ARE REPORTED AS NOT SUFFERING, NOT SO FOR OUR LORD
Note that in the Shadrach account it does indicate that the three were not harmed under this most dire of circumstances: being tied up and thrown into a blazing inferno:
(v. 25) "He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.
(v. 26) Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!' So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,
(v. 27) and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them."
On the other hand, nowhere in the bible does it indicate that Jesus did not suffer pain. The graphic descriptions of His physical abuse, whipping, crown of thorns and being nailed to the cross show no indication that He did not suffer physical pain - a serious omission if in fact He did not suffer, for one would expect that having nails hammered through ones wrists and everything that preceded it including His agony in the Garden would indicate pain.
III) THE WORD SUFFER IN ENGLISH HAS A NUMBER OF MEANINGS WHICH ARE DEPENDENT UPON THE CONTEXT AND THE ORIGINAL GREEK WORD
When "allow" is meant a different word in the original Koine Greek is translated from when "suffer", i.e., physical pain is meant.
A) EXAMPLE OF "ALLOW" = "PERMIT" OR "LET"
1) [Mt 19:14 NIV]:
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' "
[Mt 19:14 KJV]:
"But Jesus said, 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' "
"Let" = "suffer" = "Aphete" = Str. # 863 = "to send away to let go, emit dismiss to disregard, pass by send away, divorce to forgive to permit, concede to leave, depart from, abandon, leave behind "
B) EXAMPLES OF SUFFER = UNDERGO PHYSICAL PAIN
1) [Mt 16:21]:
"From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
[James Strong: Greek Dictionary of the New Testament]:
"suffer" = "pathein" = Str. # 3958 "to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful): - feel, passion, suffer, vex."
Note that if "allow" were intended here then the translation requires a totally different Greek word PLUS yet another verb such as to undergo: "and suffer (= be allowed) to undergo many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law".
2) [Acts 26:23]:
Here is another word which is rendered "suffer" in English which emphasizes the actual pain that our Lord experienced.
"that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."
"suffer" = "pathetos" = Str # 3805 = "liable (i.e., doomed) to experience pain: - suffer"
3) [Matthew 17:12]:
" 'But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' "
"to suffer" = "paschein" = Str # 3958 = same word family as above - not the allow word but the word that means to suffer physically.
Again if "allow" is to be the correct rendering then there are words missing here too to make the meaning of what is being 'allowed' clear! Namely the allow word, an infinitive verb and an object such as "to suffer to undergo crucifixion at their hands"
4) [Mark 8:31]:
"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer ["paschein" = Str # 3958] many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."
Again the text is missing an infinitive verb form such as "to undergo" if "allow" is meant in addition to the fact that the physical suffer word is used, not the permit word.
5) [Mark 9:12]:
"Jesus replied, To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer ["pathe" = Str # 3958] much and be rejected? "
6) [Luke 9:22]:
"And he said, The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. "
Same word family Str # 3958 and missing an infinitive verb and the allow verb if the allow rendering is to be correct.
7) [Acts 17:3]:
"explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, he said. "
"suffer = "pathein" = same word family Str # 3958 and missing an infinitive verb and its object such as "to suffer to undergo crucifixion" and the allow verb if the allow rendering is to be correct.
IV) FINALLY, IF THE WORD 'ALLOW' IS THE CORRECT RENDERING IN ALL THE 'SUFFER' VERSES IT DOES NOT EXCLUDE THE EXPERIENCE OF PAIN IN AN EVENT, IT ONLY INDICATES THAT ONE WILL GO THROUGH THE EVENT
Even if the allow word were there instead of the pain word, which it is not, why would the allow word necessarily indicate that Christ would not experience the pain? It would not rule the pain out just because God permitted His Son to go through the crucifixion. It would be inconclusive that He did or did not suffer pain for there are no words to that effect that Christ would not experience the pain. It would only indicate that God allowed His Son to be crucified - with or without pain not specified.
V) THE BIBLE INDICATES THAT OUR LORD DID SUFFER FOR THE SINS OF ALL HUMANITY TAKING UPON HIMSELF THE PUNISHMENT DUE MEN FOR THEIR SINS
A) [Isa 53:1-12]:
(v. 1) "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(v. 2) He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
(v. 3) He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. [physical suffering] Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(v. 4) Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. [words of suffering]
(v. 5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. [He received punishment, our punishment, our suffering]
(v. 6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(v. 7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. [more about His suffering, His oppression, affliction ]
(v. 8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
(v. 9) He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
(v. 10) Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. [God caused His Son to suffer]
(v. 11) After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
(v. 12) Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
VII) SINCE SCRIPTURE INDICATES THAT OUR LORD TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE PUNISHMENT FOR OUR SINS WHICH INCLUDES ETERNAL SUFFERING THEN ONE MUST CONCLUDE THAT HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY ACTION INCLUDED SUFFERING
(v. 3) "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(v. 4) Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
(v. 5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.