I looked out the window with groggy eyes and heard the familiar “whoosh” of the remaining water filtering through the coffee maker. I pulled the filter out and noticed a lone, whole coffee bean sitting precariously on top of the black, soggy mess of coffee grounds. It reminded me that the delicious, steaming, liquid goodness I was soon to drink was once just potential, held within the confines of this tiny, hard-shelled bean. We all know what those little beans must go through before they render that wonderful coffee elixir: planting, watering, weathering storms, harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, inspecting, packaging, and more transporting. After all this, we bring the beans into our homes, put them through a metal grinder, and pour boiling water on top of their remains. Sounds rather violent, does it not?
That small, whole coffee bean I found this morning serves as a perfect reminder of the link between suffering and potential. Jesus, too, had to endure violent suffering before He could reach His full potential and purpose. Just for a moment, try to imagine Jesus without the torment of the cross. He taught, He healed, He befriended, He led, He challenged—all wonderful, important, life-changing activities. But if there were no cross—no piercing cries of agony, no spectacle of unjust torture, no pleas for forgiveness for His crucifiers, no humble obedience to God’s will for Him—He would never have met His full potential of world-changing salvation. Would Jesus be well-known and revered? Probably so, as a great man of God. But would He be the promised Messiah, the savior of mankind? No, He would not.
Without the cross, there’s no mind-bending display of God’s power and authority over death. Without the cross, there’s no ultimate and final sacrifice allowing us to commune with God while still living in our filthy human bodies. Without the cross, there’s no redemption, forgiveness, and salvation offered to every person on earth for all time. Without the cross, there’s no Easter. No resurrection.
Sometimes, there’s no way around suffering. Sometimes we must endure the bean grinder and the boiling water so God can release something magnificent lying dormant inside us—our full potential in Him.