To speak tangentially, I think that suffering is an intrinsic part of being-hood. Any being worth...uh...being, will experience suffering. We can respond to that suffering in a myriad of ways, including letting it fester and grow into vast, civilization-wide patterns of destruction. What Jesus advocates is that we refuse to support and promulgate such patterns. Instead, we must "swallow" the suffering, allowing it to be neutralized inside us, so that the world can survive and continue to grow. And that's exactly what Jesus does on the cross.

    But this is not masochism, it's heroism. There is no unnecessary suffering being created or advocated. In fact, the severity of what Jesus (and his followers) underwent was a direct result of the amount of suffering in the world that had already been directed into violence and destructiveness. Jesus forgives the violence directed against him precisely so that the violence can disappear from the world, instead of continuing to circulate in ever-more destructive ways.

    This is a tough calling, and it's not surprising that sometimes this has been misread as a plea for self-destructiveness. That's why it's incredibly important to understand what Jesus does in light of the primacy of life in the scriptures and in Jewish tradition. And it's also perhaps why Christianity has never spoken much about crucifixion without also talking about resurrection.