German philosopher and economist Karl Marx once stated that religion is the opium of the masses. Marx believed that religion had certain practical functions in society that were similar to the function of opium in a sick or injured person: it reduced people's immediate suffering and provided them with pleasant illusions. In other words, religion is something that is supposed to reduce suffering. Yet, listen to the readings from God’s Word this morning—they don’t describe happy times. Jesus’ life here on earth was marked by suffering because of who he was and what he came to do. The price of our salvation is steep—it involved Jesus suffering and dying for our sins. In our Savior though we see the stark reality of the love of God and how it is inseparably connected to the cross, both his and ours! Salvation and suffering go hand in hand, for Jesus and for us too! May God strengthen our hearts as we see Jesus overcome suffering to assure us of our salvation, and to strengthen us when we must suffer. Our cross drives us to his cross both for forgiveness and for strength.