33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
22 ……… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Jesus.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Him,
9 And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Jesus, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;
*THE DISCIPLE IS NOT ABOVE HIS MASTER
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Jesus not only suffered at the hands of men, He was rejected by most men; Such rejection brought about a crucifixion void of the reverence of men; Jesus suffered, and, He was rejected as the Messiah, completing the horror of unbelief that fulfilled the scripture and put Him on the cross. Here, Peter is rebuked by Jesus for trying to lead Him away from the path of suffering and rejection—this shortly after Peter—getting a revelation that was “not of flesh and blood”—confirmed Jesus as the Messiah—Mt. 16: 13-20. We see the same attitude in much of the church today—a Jesus that most certainly suffered, bled, and died for us all, in order that we might inherit the ‘blessing’ of not suffering, but peacefully reaping the fleshy and the spiritual rewards of His Sacrifice. Such belief keeps the church from becoming as its Master—a suffering church; In this kind of deception, such belief puts the church above its Master, being unwilling to accept the worthiness and the grace of being chosen to suffer. Satan has pulled down the blinders upon us and has stolen the cross we are called to bear. In doing so, he has convinced the church that a non-suffering disciple can still be as his Master, identifying himself with Jesus, but at the same time, refusing the cross of Jesus in his own life.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Jesus here does not force us to come after Him, He says if we are to come after Him, a cross which is designed to crucify us, will be appointed to us. This cross is double-edged—it will save our spirit, but it will painfully crucify our flesh, leaving Jesus and Jesus only, in the balance. So it is in our heeding His call, that the cross He commands of us, slays us, working many things in and out of us, chief among them, total self-denial, and total and absolute focus on Jesus. We do not attempt to deny ourselves—our only pursuit is the Person of Jesus, and complete unity and obedience to Him. There is absolutely nothing or no one else; it is the cross that we choose to pick up that works all of this in us at the command of Jesus, gracing us to a life that is aware and consumed of Jesus, and Him only, that the will of our Father be done on earth as it is in heaven. This cross means crucifixion, and crucifixion is not fun—nobody ever enjoyed a cross, including this one; but this suffering cross is the only path to our suffering Lord and Savior. Any suffering or rejection that does not come as a result of our obedience and adherence to Jesus Himself, will burn on that day. This cross takes its directions from the Master, and it brings suffering and rejection at the hands of men to a disciple, just as it did to our Master. This cross is not incidental suffering that is part of every life—disciple or not. This cross means suffering and rejection as a result of our obedience to Jesus. The cross is there for all who proclaim Jesus—each of us has to pick it up. It is not a cross we look for, but it is a cross that comes from the hand of Jesus upon our entrance into true discipleship and union with Him. This cross enables and graces the disciple to share in the sufferings of Jesus as he lays down His life to Jesus, so that others may be saved, healed and delivered. This cross bids the disciple to bear his portion of the sufferings and rejections of Jesus, to evangelize and to make disciples to the glory of God:
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Col 1:24
As we fill up what is behind in the afflictions of Jesus through our suffering and rejection in the process of bringing others to Him, we find ourselves being made conformable to His death: crucified with Him, nevertheless we live, yet not us, but Jesus lives in us—His reception in us and through us will be no different than it was 2000 years ago—ours will become a life of suffering, shame and rejection, but we will see abiding fruit. The call of Jesus is a call to us to come to Him and die. This is the death of the flesh—the old man— that Jesus Himself might resurrect in us. We thus are instructed by the Lord to pick up this cross daily—every day we enter into new temptations that are contrary to Jesus, and every day, this cross graces us to die to all that is contrary to Him that day. It is this daily picking up of this cross that graces us to bear the evil we are constantly forgiving—“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”—this becomes the lifestyle of the disciple. It is the cross of Jesus and His disposition toward it, that moves in us, and motivates us to pick up our own cross, fulfilling His commands regarding those who would trespass against us, thus proving that we are children of our Father which is in heaven:
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
1 Pet 4:13-14
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
*THE SUFFERING SERVANT
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
This prophecy of Isaiah, tells us of the coming Messiah—God’s suffering Servant; The whole of the New Testament confirms the prophecy. We must remember that the stark description of the life of Jesus given here, may become our own when as we mature in discipleship. Who hath believed our report? (Vs 1)—As we know, many believed the Messiah would come as a King in much pomp and circumstance, and, as we also know, He didn’t. Jesus did come as a King, but without the usual credits of a King, He was, for the most part, not believed. It is the same today. Many have watered down His commands and His word, and in their hypocrisy have attempted to fashion themselves a more accommodating and liberal Messiah. Of the many who profess to believe our report, few really embrace it. “Wilt thou be healed?” as Jesus asked the man at the pool, could be asked of many who proclaim they are disciples of Jesus. The unbelieving Jews rested on the Law and the Prophets, but when it came to truly believing the prophets, their rest came to all-out slumber. Jesus came as a root out of dry ground (Vs 2)—He sprang out of the royal family of David, but He came at a time when that family was in scattered ruin. The Israelites gladly accepted water when Moses smote the rock in the wilderness (Ex. 17: 1-7). They would later reject the Living Water, and then they would themselves, smite the Rock. The dry ground in this verse would allude to the lack of a word of prophecy from God for some 400 years; it may also refer to the virgin birth of Jesus; dry ground is obviously not fertile soil—the nation expected the Messiah to come from fertile soil. He had no form nor comeliness—Other kings looked the part, this King would not. Here starts the foundation of the great condescension of the Messiah that runs through the rest of the chapter. He is despised and rejected of men (Vs 3)—all classes of men—true in His day, true in ours. Men reject He who is without form or comeliness. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief—we don’t often read that He laughed, but we do read that He wept—He offered up prayers with strong crying and tears, Heb. 5: 7; He suffered at the sight of the sins and sickness of man, and, still does—through His servants as He resurrects in them. We hid our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not—same story today—we give Him lip service, and try to claim from His crucifixion that which will gratify our flesh. Our hearts esteem His hand, not His heart. Vs 4–Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows—even though He was rejected, he died for the rejecters—the perfectly Obedient, for the disobedient—It is the perfect obedience of Jesus that gives His Blood its value. The transition from despising, to a realization that He bore our griefs and sorrows, shows a gradual discovering of who He is. We see throughout these verses how the prophet identifies himself with the people by interjecting “we” and “our” in appropriate places. This is a key to ministry for us, for most will reject what we bring to them of Jesus, and in this rejection we will find all kinds of suffering. But as Jesus resurrects in us, we will find Him interceding for the transgressors through us. Jesus is acquainted with sorrows and griefs, and He bears that with which He is acquainted. So shall His servants.
The unbelievers esteemed Jesus smitten of God and afflicted—they looked at Him and thought because of His lack of comeliness and His disposition, that He must be some great sinner that God had smitten. This is my body, broken for you—not for my sin, but for yours. How is it that seeing, ye perceive not? The word “stricken” here, is the same Hebrew word used when God afflicted the king with leprosy (2 Kings 15: 5). This would further define the humility of Jesus for He opened not His mouth.
Vs 5–But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. He was pierced—hands, feet and side because of our iniquity—iniquity that had cost us our peace with God. This verse shows us God’s justice served—a satisfying of the righteousness and wrath of God; With Jesus we have peace with God; without Him, chastisement. His stripes—the beatings he bore—healed us—healed our spiritual sickness and, our enmity with God: And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come. (Matt 9:11-13).
Vs 7–He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master—Matt 10:25.
In the latter verses of Isaiah 52, we see how high the Messiah would be exalted; in this 53rd chapter, we see how low He must be humbled before His exaltation would be realized.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50: 6
“….Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also…. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.…. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away….” Matthew 5:38-42.
We see here, the Master contrasting His doctrine–turn the other cheek–with that of the Jews–an eye for an eye; The eye for an eye part was a commandment of God to the magistrate, in case o woman with child were struck, and any harm came from it (Ex. 21: 24); in case of damage done to a neighbor (Lev. 24: 20); and in the case of false witness (Deut. 19: 21); God, though, had said to private persons, ‘do not avenge’ (Lev. 19: 18); The Pharisees had interpreted this law of God into a liberty for every private person who had been wronged by another, to exact a satisfaction upon him, provided that he did not exceed this proportion of taking an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, doing no more wrong to another than that other had done to him. The key is the Jewish belief that a smite on the cheek or the taking of one’s coat distracts immensely from an Israelite’s dignity, being the children of Abraham; By laying His doctrine against this, Jesus is saying love and forgiveness must rule; These disgraces were not to be born by the Jews, because of their ancestry–an eye for an eye is the law of retaliation for them.
The coat is called a talith by the Jews–it is above all garments, because it is the outermost garment. In this upper garment were woven in the fringes that were to put them in mind of the law (Num. 15: 38); Hereupon the disgrace was increased together with the wrong, when that was taken away, concerning which they did much boast(”But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,” Matt 23:5);
What Jesus is saying here is do not resist or rise up against an injurious person, as to require the law of retaliation against him–tend to patience under an open injury, and for which there is no pretense; under an injury, if right and equity of the law is applicable, don’t retaliate with the law, but give up what they require–even more if necessary; Paul, in Romans 12: 17-19,21, expounds on what Jesus is teaching here– Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. ‘Give to him that asketh of thee–this is an ancient precept of God–Deut. 15: 7-9.
Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.” Luke 18:31-33
Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands. Matthew 26:67
And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:28-31
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50: 6
The prophecy from Isaiah and the fulfillment of it, is one of the strongest attestations to the fact that Jesus set His face to do the will of God and suffer the injuries of men, and that He practiced to perfection, what He preached. Plucking the hair was a punishment saved for the most base of malefactors (Neh. 13: 25). He hid not His face from all reproaches, but rather submitted unto them. Spitting in a man’s face was used in token of contempt and detestation (Num. 12: 14; Job 30: 10); This was literally fulfilled in Jesus, Matthew 26: 67. His example corresponded to His precept (Mt. 5: 39), the way of His calling leading to a painful and shameful condition of humiliation. What was typified in Job (30: 10, 17: 6; 16: 10), and prefigured typically and prophetically in the Psalms of David (Ps. 22: 69: 8;), finds in Jesus its perfect antitypical fulfillment.
Jesus was at the tribunal of His own countrymen in Matthew 26 when they spit in His face and smote Him with the palms of their hands; It was in the hall of the high priest, among His own countrymen that most of the deeds of scorn came upon Him–’He came unto His own and His own received Him not.’ Jesus’ worst foes, were they of His own household–so ours; He fared no better in Herod’s court–Lk, 23: 11; The lash with which He was scourged, was made of the sinews of oxen, which held the hucklebones of sheep with slivers of bone, in order that every blow would further tear; The hearts of His smiters had invented all the cruelty of which they were capable by the time they were finished with Him–all met by Him with no resistance–all this must take us past all to His Person. The sight of it all demands complete adoration and amazement; And as we lay all at the cross let us not stop there–let us remove our shoes and look up, for we surely are treading upon Holy ground; let us tremble as we dare linger in the shadow of His Passion, knowing that it is Almighty God who did hang there.
All this after doing miracles of beneficence rather than of judgment–He did not repeat the plagues of Egypt, for He did not come to smite, but to save–though they spit in their Creator’s face; He did not change the water into blood, He changed it into wine. He did not make the fish stink, but instead made the fish nets overflow; He did not break the staff of bread, but instead multiplied it. Had the people opened their eyes, they would have seen every attribute of God the Father in God the Son. How often Jesus came away to set at our Father’s feet–witness His fruit.
Was not the reception of the apple the same as the spitting in the eye? Is not every sin committed, done in the same spirit of contempt toward Him? Every such act spits in the face of Sovereignty and denies Him supremacy. We are then saying to God that His love would be greater if He would allow us our sinful pleasure. It is Majesty insulted–it is plucking the hair and smoting the head of He who died that such behavior would no longer have dominion. It is often times believing the Gospel, but rejecting the Savior who brings it. Our rags are already filthy, yet we consistently apply them to the carnage we allow. We soon come to prefer our sin over repentance, scoffing at Holy wrath. All this is well symbolized by all that was bore by the Lord Jesus. For which of His works do we stone Him?
It is by the life and the death of Jesus that we are saved–the two can never be divided– He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isa 53:3-5. It was His life of perfect obedience that gives His Blood its value. It is in much presumption regarding the atonement, that the once-saved, always-saved doctrine has arisen–many come crying to the altar, only to leave it convinced that a moment of sorrow for sin, and repeating a few words uttered by a minister, is the means of salvation. Many return to the vomit and mire, dangerously assuming it is well with their souls, as sin regains its dominion. If one ever wonders what God thinks of sin, let that one digest and study Passion’s week, and let that one get a glimpse of His only begotten Son in the culmination of that week, and one will discover that sin truly does have a whore’s forehead (Rev. 17: 5). And let one know that history’s heaviest Price was paid voluntarily–that He willingly hung in our place is Grace immeasurable–He was bound, beaten and killed by the men He had made—- There is not language enough to describe it, nor do it justice. Does not the heart of the soul weep? We must get beyond words— “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing”–And we must answer with Thomas– “My Lord and my God.” We must beseech God to make this our reality.
It is the bravery of our Master’s silence that is hardest conceived–is it not the epitome of a soul who is the possession of patience? No speaking of denial or defense, but a giving of His back and His cheeks; Only He can keep falsehoods from arousing indignation–this is why I must make my life’s aim, Him manifesting in my mortal flesh–does not a lamb skip to the upcoming slaughter the same as he does to the grain feast? The strait gate and the narrow road are both lodged in the valley of humiliation, not in the heights of honor. The perfect path to the crown has been perfectly laid, but few there be that find it. The ultimate Comforter came as a Sufferer;
As we examine the disposition that animated Jesus to the Cross, let us ask–”Shall the disciple be above his Master?” Does not the Scripture tell us we are appointed to suffering? If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, must they call me “Pastor Sir?” They laughed and scoffed at Him, do I expect their honor? How then can I even believe? They stuck a reed in His hand and He chose not to make it a rod of iron; For His birth, He was loaned a stable, for His burial He borrowed a grave. From whence comes this pride I confess? He is our copy, brother.
Intercession for the Transgressors
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12.
Then said Jesus, ”Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
Jesus made intercession by letting Himself be hung between an angry God and sinful man, for the sake of sinful man, and for the sake of the Love and Will of God. The intercession spoken of in this verse is a reference to Jesus as the Suffering One, not Jesus the Glorified One; We must picture this verse as being written on the cross itself; For it is here that the Messianic idea–buried for centuries–reaches it apex; it is here that the banner of the cross is hoisted over all, raising with it the veil of the Holiest; Here is where the unbelieving Jews stumbled, for their Messiah was not to be One that would travel through shame to glory, They ignore the message of the suffering that darkens the Psalms and the books of Job and Isaiah, which helped picture the groundwork for this the deepest of humiliations. For this suffering would be different–it would be a vicarious, atoning suffering–a Sacrifice for sin. This is where Grace testifies of Faith, seizing this prophecy for its Truth, which cannot be revealed by flesh and blood. This is the pivotal moment in the history of mankind and those who refuse this great salvation shall be condemned by this moment. The Cross and Blood of Jesus must be the barometer for all who would seek to define intercession; to weakly put it in some kind of perspective, Cain, upon being charged by God with Abel’s murder said “My punishment (punishment of iniquity) is greater than I can bear” (Gen. 4: 13)–this is one man trying to bear his sin and the guilt and punishment of it; imagine, if you can, the Son of Man bearing all the world’s sin—intercession for all transgressors of all time defines the burden and horror of Golgotha; This intercession is sufficient for all but efficient only for those who believe.
It is this very intercession–the cross– that is an offense to many, because it condemns all–it wounds the prided ego, telling it that intercession unto salvation is needed; it establishes all of us as transgressors; it draws something in us to take part in it–to pick it up–to become part of the intercession the cross of Jesus has made possible; but the Pharisee within overrules, and we refuse to stand in the gap less we sacrifice mammon and the pride and honor of men. Judas suffered this offense unto suicide;
Jesus’ intercession was one of Blood and that offends–remission requires His blood, and the shedding of it tells me I need to be forgiven; this offends many because they have been deceived into believing that their is a measure of evil that must be filled in them before they really need the cross; These are those that Jesus said He did not come to save– “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matt 9:13; forgetting that we are justified by faith in His Blood, which bears witness of His intercession.
Many can quote ‘He ever lives to make intercession,’ but few remember that to boldly arrive where He makes the intercession, I must walk through His Blood. I must remember that it is His Person that is the living prayer of intercession, as He sits at the right hand of the majesty on high–It is the Person of Jesus that is our only Plea to God. To claim under the Atonement is both convenient and expedient; Many chose this wide road because the narrow road’s signs are written in His Blood, suggesting a laying down of one’s life–intercession–with the price to be paid much too offensive.
It is the very disposition that lead Jesus to make intercession for the transgressors, that offends the most. To forgive and intercede for he who has trespassed against me, I must bear the trespass; and the degree of that trespass and the nature of the person committing it will be what most times determines my response–I must keep in mind–’they pierced Him–He prayed for them.’ See here mercy outrun malice as it rejoices over judgment.
“Because He hath poured out His soul unto death; He was numbered with the transgressors and He bore the sins of many.’ Jesus prevails in His intercession because of His substitution for the transgressors–it is the completeness of His sacrifice that prevails with God for us. And in this, we must run to Him when we sin–most run away–but we must prevail with God to grace us with the reality of what Jesus has accomplished for us– ”He who cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” We must know that our Father is always drawing us to our Savior. “Father forgive them” is alive and well in the Person of Jesus at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The completeness of His sacrifice continually pleads and prevails for us all. God sees all the accusations of Satan through the Blood of Jesus–our filthy garments are thus removed.
I must, as I study this greatest act of intercession, pray for it to be my experience. The blood of Jesus covers my sin–how can I not forgive those who trespass against me–those whose sins Jesus also bore.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do;” Jesus did not plead their innocence, but their ignorance, for this is the only place He could find for His compassion to gain a foothold; It may be true that had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. ‘Father forgive them’ came at the height of His agony; we sometimes refuse to intercede for lack of convenience; It is no small thing when we can call our minds away from our own concerns to bring the concerns of others to God.
Jesus, must be the Author of intercession: Rms 8: 28-29–we don’t know what to pray for–we must be led by the Spirit, who will lead us to pray the will of the Lord.
The intercession is a battle between the Lord and the enemy, and the battle is the Lord’s; we are merely vessels in the battle, but are instructed to be prepared at all times for the battle–intercession is war: Eph. 6: 10-18; 2 Tim. 2: 1-5, 1 Tim. 6: 12.
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.
*THE CUP OF SUFFERING
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
In this we truly “bear one another’s burdens, fulfilling the law of Jesus” (Gal. 6: 2). We bear our cross in absolute obedience to Jesus, and in doing so, are graced to bear the burdens—the sins—of others against us. We overcome the persecution, rejection, and suffering by forgiveness—that forgiveness being Jesus Himself resurrecting in us, enabling and gracing us to forgive from the heart. Forgiving and praying for those who persecute us and despitefully use us—in short, make us suffer because of our allegiance to Jesus—are the marks that are left on us by our cross: We bear the evil we forgive.
24 The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Matt 10:24-25
If we refuse our cross and refuse to suffer for the sake of our obedience to Jesus, we will lose true fellowship with Him; This cross is designed to grace us to “lose our lives for His sake” in our obedience to Him—we die to ourselves when we pick it up; this death brings us the grace to “find our lives”—this Life, is Jesus Himself, and we truly find Him and intimacy with Him, when we grip this cross and lose our lives to Him and His duty; It is then we step into the life of suffering and rejection:
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 1Thes 3:3-4
2 Cor 12: 9-10
9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
The true disciple of Jesus understands that in undertaking discipleship, he has come into union with the suffering Jesus. We overcome the sufferings by forgiving, long suffering, patience, and by bearing them as the cross appointed to us.
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
For even hereunto were ye called: because Jesus also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: 1 Pet 2:21-23
8 Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him;
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
The cup of suffering that was appointed to Jesus passed from Him when He drank of it; Suffering in the will of God and in our obedience to Jesus, passes when we accept it and bear it. This suffering seemingly separates us from God, as He is hard to find as we drink the cup; But it is the suffering itself that proves to be the way to union with Jesus, as we come into fellowship with His sufferings. When we bear the suffering, we find it passing away; The disciple understands that there is still much to be filled up in what is behind in the sufferings of Jesus, so he willingly bears the sufferings of the world that he may indeed save some. The disciple remembers that it is Jesus who bore the burdens of the world, and it is Jesus who holds the disciple up as he suffers at the hands of the world. As the disciple perseveres through suffering, he finds himself growing in union with His suffering Lord; It is the highway of suffering that leads to the crown of righteousness, and it is the highway of holiness and true joy. In all of this we really don’t know where Jesus is leading us, and this fact proves to be the greatest of liberty—Not understanding the mystery of discipleship, is true understanding, for when we are sent by Jesus, not knowing where we are going, it is the faith that He gives that is our vehicle for the trip. Our own understanding becomes null and void, and faith in He who is leading—He who loves us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood (Rev. 1:5)—becomes our walk of life, thus freeing us from the snares of knowledge and comprehension; Abraham went out not knowing where he was going—he went out at the command of God, and left all; knowledge, comprehension, and understanding of the trip, were laid to waste—he made himself free to obey God by trusting God. Such is the way of a man who has consented to picking up the cross that Jesus appoints; the man doesn’t know where the cross will lead, all he knows is that this cross will bid him to die to himself and to the world, that he might live unto God. All of desire for the aspects of life is abandoned, for there is nothing of our own choosing on the road of the cross, save Jesus Himself.
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end
When Jesus truly calls and then sends the disciple, there is nothing, including persecution and privation, that will keep him from his duty. “Behold, I send you” (Vs 16)—the disciple is not a person who has decided to undertake walking with Jesus, and then trying to direct Jesus in the way that He should go. The true disciple is not a commander, he is an obeyer, and this obedience is to Jesus alone, who alone sends the disciple on his mission. be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Vs 16). We are instructed to be spiritually wise and spiritually harmless. We are confident and certain of one thing in this mission and that is that Jesus has called, He has sent, and He has promised never to forsake us throughout. This is the gospel of simplicity:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Jesus. (2 Cor 11:3); When Jesus directs and speaks, we move in His wisdom and power when we obey Him and move at His command; The true disciple devours the written word of God, but spends much of his life at the feet of the Living Word—worshipping Him and getting filled by Him for ministry– But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4; It is the Truth of the Word—both the Living and the written, that exorcizes our senses as to good and evil, and gives us discernment of what the will of God is in our duty. It is the Living and written word that enforces and defines the simplicity of our walk—both are in total unity, and both are with us to grace us to perform our duty. We are thus graced to discern the relationship of the Living and written word to those to whom we are ministering. It is the Holy Ghost who gives us a mouth and a wisdom which all our adversaries will not be able to withstand or to gainsay (deny) Luke 21: 15. As the disciple remains true to the word in his suffering, the word remains true to him. The word is thus validated as we share in the sufferings of Jesus.
It is the lot of the disciple to be hated and blamed for all sorts of family divisions and for fanatically leading men astray. We must not shirk our duty as a result of this persecution—we absolutely must endure until the end comes. Our greatest consolation in suffering because of our obedience to Jesus is the fact that we suffer because He suffered, and as He shares in our sufferings, we share in His through our obedience to Him—there is no true persecution apart from the persecution that comes as a result of our obedience to Jesus:
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. John 15:18-21
*Called and appointed to suffering
Jesus tells us to “beware of men for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles”. Mt 10:17-18
We are to beware of men but we are not to fear men, but we are to fear God:
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28
The power of men over us ceases when we die—the power of our Father over us never ceases. If we continue to fear men, we show we have no fear of God, and if we truly fear God, we will not fear men. It is our fear of God that overcomes our fear of death. The danger for man lies not in the judgment of men, but in the judgment of God. All the disciple is and all he or she has, including circumstance, comes from the hand of God. Suffering, death, and violence at the hands of men, comes also to the disciple from the hand of our Father. The shadow of the Almighty is the habitat of the disciple, therefore we “fear not.”
The length of eternity is set—it is endless; the length of the temporal is also set, but is known only by our Father. Every day this temporal timepiece winds toward its end, while eternity winds toward its beginning. Every day on this earth thus becomes a day of decision and a day of salvation for some, damnation for others. Through the suffering, the privation, the destitution, the disciple becomes like his Master, and as he perseveres through this life of ministry, He finds His Master ever closer as he shares in His sufferings; then the day of death comes, and the disciple finds that his Master is still standing besides Him and supporting Him at the judgment seat. The disciple who is true to Jesus to the end of this life, will find Jesus true to him for eternity. The cross to which we have been appointed is one of suffering, rejection, and shame, but it is also the peace of Jesus in our lives. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son—very comforting words until we come to the realization that the love of God means the cross and discipleship as the only way to Life—He that findeth is life shall lose it, He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Mt. 10: 39); I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Rev 1:18—it is in the going to His cross, His death, and His resurrection and ascension, that Jesus takes His own.
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 2 Cor 1:3-7
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
It is tribulation and affliction that work faith, holiness, and obedience; The Scripture tells us we are appointed to suffering. We overcome suffering by suffering and pursuing the will of God in it, and pressing through it to execute that will. Suffering did not hinder Jesus doing the will of God in His earthly walk and ministry; suffering enabled Him to perform the will of God, for it will be in suffering that we find the grace of Godly obedience—
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Heb 5:8-9
It is through suffering then, that I am enabled to obey God and walk out His will unto my salvation; It is thus my suffering that becomes my consolation, for the one consolation of my life, is the performing of the will of God in it.
The purpose of this chapter is not to present an argument for a theology of suffering, for the Scriptures are very capable in that area. The purpose of this chapter is to bring to light the Scriptures that appoint God’s children to suffering, and to address the Spirit of sacrifice and suffering that is the foundation of the teaching of Jesus throughout the New Testament. While health and prosperity may or may not be in God’s plan for your life, if you are washed by the Blood of Jesus, be certain that suffering will be an integral part of your walk with Him, for it is in suffering that the disciple’s heart and will are broken, his life then laid down, and every disciple will experience his part in the cross of Jesus and in filling up what is behind in His afflictions. God chastens and scourges every son or daughters He receives. And unless we willingly depart, when He has tested us, we shall come forth as gold. It is in suffering that our glorious Master learned His obedience. Are we to be above Him? The suffering we are talking about here is the suffering that God chooses, not suffering that we choose to put upon ourselves. As Jesus suffered great loss in His affliction, so must we in ours. Suffering is the tool that our Father uses to transform us into the likeness of Jesus; It is suffering, trial, and tribulation that keeps us in a state of humility and also keeps us on our knees. We thus learn patient submissiveness to the will of God– it bears repeating many times that we are to be crucified with Jesus, and He must resurrect in us. Any teaching that is contrary is heresy. We must suffer and die that He might live through us, that His strength might be made perfect in our increasing weakness; and we must glory in this suffering that the power of Jesus might rest upon us, moving us into the disposition of laying our lives down, becoming by grace, obedient unto death at the hands of our appointed cross if necessary. It is in this process that I will realize abiding fruit in the ministry. I must be willing to let God pick my cross, and I must then embrace it willingly, knowing that it is the ultimate grace; It was necessary for Jesus to suffer to enter into His glory; so us. I must do all that is needed to make sure my suffering does not draw attention to me, for if I don’t, I negate the glory of God in it.
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down: he flees also as a shadow, and continues not (Job 14: 1-2). In the midst of this life, we walk in death.
Appointed to suffering…..Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers the righteous out of them all (Psalm 34: 19). This may be temporal deliverance at times, but the overall theme of this deliverance is eternal; for it is only when we pass from death unto life that we are in fact, delivered from all affliction. The Old Testament shows us that God uses suffering to teach and to purify; the book of Job, many Psalms, Isaiah and many of the minor prophets witness this point. Be not deceived–we do suffer because of our sin,
God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Gal 6:7-9
God does make His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and He does send rain on the just and on the unjust….all of which tells us that man is destined to suffer whether he be of the house of God or not. Reasons for suffering provide the differences in the afflictions of the saved and the unsaved.
Suffering tries the flesh and works the resurrection of He who is Patience, gracing us to glory in our infirmity and rejoice in our tribulation. It will be out of suffering patience that the experience of Jesus will come, and the hope of our resurrection be solidified. It is out of suffering patience that wheat and chaff are many times separated. Forasmuch then as Jesus has suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; (1 Pet. 1-4); and the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that we have suffered a while, make us perfect, establish, strengthen, settle us. (1 Pet 5: 10). Many run from the Lord in anger when called to suffer; but we must realize that suffering is an integral part of our intimacy with Jesus, for it is in suffering with Him that we shall reign with Him. We shall not know the power of His resurrection aside from fellowship with His sufferings.
*The Significance of Suffering
There is much redemptive significance in affliction and suffering. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah deals with the suffering Jesus, the Example left to us as witnessed by Peter (1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus’ sufferings were vicarious (endured for us) and redemptive; It is His cross that shows us how much sorrows and afflictions can work in the way of redemption. But in this we rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Jesus’ sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy. There is much witness in the New Testament of the trial of the disciples, even by fire; It is this affliction that builds faith and works the weight of glory of the coming after-life. We take fellowship with and joy in His sufferings in that we help fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Jesus in our flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church(Col. 1: 24). Wherein we greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, we are in heaviness through manifold temptations (trials). That the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of our Lord Jesus. (1 Pet. 1: 6-7)
It is our disdain for suffering that proves our lack of understanding of God’s love. Suffering is the pruning instrument of God. The glory of God most times evolves out of the suffering furnace of life; Suffering is universal and indiscriminatory–it crosses all lines; history will show that it is in suffering that we unite–it is in our prosperity that we become aloof and we divide.
To undertake a successful discussion of suffering, one must have suffered; suffering is not something one can offer opinions on, for opinions for those who haven’t suffered, prove unbearable to those who are suffering; if we have suffered we can relate somewhat to the pain of those who are suffering, but we can never fully relate to it, for pain impacts all differently; But the common thread that must run through all suffering is the Person of Jesus; suffering lifts us beyond ourselves and unto Him and for this reason we count it all joy, inasmuch as we are partakers of Jesus’ sufferings that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy; as we are partakers of His sufferings, so shall we be also of the consolation. We must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus gave His life for us–we must give our lives to Him–he who cannot forsake all that he has, cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He who has been graced to forsake all that he has, has been graced to enter the life of sacrifice and suffering.
Though the battle is the Lord’s, we most always should find ourselves in the midst of it; suffering is starkly, scarringly real–lives are forever changed by it; But God has His purpose in it, and it is the purpose and will of God that is always our beginning and our end, whether it be in suffering or prosperity. There is only One who can totally relate to our suffering and it is to Him that we must always turn. Is it possible to count it all joy when we fall into manifold trials? Can we actually come to the place where we petition our Father to allow us to share in the sufferings of Jesus? When we pray for compassion do we realize that it will be founded in suffering? Do we realize the safety of His grace as we suffer? Total rest and peace comes only in Him alone–anything less than Him and we are left wanting, especially in our suffering.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Jesus, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Philippians 1:29
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. 2 Cor. 1: 9-10. As Paul so frequently intimates, suffering belongs to the discipline of all who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We read here of this apostle, the man chosen of God to write much of the New Testament, suffering to the point of death; there is an element of a lack of understanding of circumstance here; the suffering was so great and perplexing, he was ready to lay down and die. Scripture here gives no main reason for the suffering, which is many times the case in this life. Paul was continually rejected by the body–he was not a good enough orator; he was accused of dishonesty with church money; he was accused of having an unsound mind and he was preaching the unpopular Truth. He suffered continually physically, and seemingly without a lot of explanation, save the fact that the Lord’s grace is sufficient, His strength made perfect in Paul’s suffering weakness. There is much for us in the depth of Paul’s sufferings for the Gospel, as we see that God truly is no respecter of persons.
The affliction of the disciple is used by God to produce the weight of his future glory. Let us remember this when the Lord calls us to suffering. When we can’t explain our suffering circumstance, let us in faith and trust, cleave to Jesus and His word and share willingly in His sufferings. Its not that all our afflictions are light–as we know, many do bear extreme affliction; the apostle is here saying that in comparison to our coming glory, our afflictions are light. And they do endure but for a moment when compared to the eternal glory they produce. The key to remember here is that it is the affliction that works the glory. The suffering that sin has brought to this life is not to compare with the glory that has been worked by the Blood of Grace and Mercy that will respond to the suffering with an eternal weight of glory at the end of this life. When undergoing suffering and trial, we must keep our eyes on He who is invisible–we must see Him in the midst of the suffering–Moses endured by doing this. Suffering falls under sense–it is temporal; the glory it produces is spiritual –it is eternal. We are appointed to suffering, contrary too much Disciple teaching today. Many who have refused to suffer loss for Jesus in this life, shall most surely suffer loss of reward in the next: He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for the sake of Jesus, shall find it. If there is loss of life, there is suffering.
Dead and Buried with Jesus
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24
We are buried with Jesus by baptism into death: that like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of our Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom 6:6)
This planting in the likeness of His death most certainly tells us we are to pick up our cross and die on it daily; Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him; our crucifixion is foretold, and yet we are surprised when God bids us die that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. But the walk of death must needs be, for he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Jesus, we shall also live with Him. It is through the suffering death of the flesh that we come alive unto God, by His Spirit.
Among the reasons for the suffering of Jesus was the fact that the Scriptures concerning Him had to be fulfilled; There are many Scriptures that allude to the suffering of the disciple, and they too, must be fulfilled; Jesus had to pass through suffering and death to glory and life–so we–the foundation of Victory is suffering and sacrifice. Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection allowed for implementation of the New Covenant–God now enters into the heart of man; It is our suffering and the crucifixion of the outward man, that allows the resurrection and manifestation of our Inward Man–it is our suffering, that makes way for the gradual resurrection and manifestation of Jesus in our mortal flesh. He is called the Suffering Servant. Are we as His disciples, above our Master? It was a crown of thorns that raised Jesus to glory–so us. The Scriptures tell us (Heb. 2: 17-18) that Jesus suffered so He could relate to the sufferings of the human race; This is one of the chief reasons God allows the sufferings of the disciples–that they might, by experience, be able to enter into the sufferings of others: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. The foundation of true spiritual empathy and sympathy is suffering and brokenness. It is in suffering (fear and trembling) that we work out our salvation; Jesus has walked the path we are to walk, ahead of us. We need only to see and examine His walk, to define ours. And we must always remember that it is He who is with us and leading us along that path. It is the very table of the Lord that bids us follow Him in the example He has left us. Let us give thanks in all things, including the sufferings to which we have been appointed.
What glory is it, if, when we be buffeted for our faults, we take it patiently? If when we do well, and suffer for it we take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were we called: because Jesus also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. (1 Pet. 2: 20-21). Let us understand from the beginning, that we are not looking into suffering because of the evil we’ve done. That suffering explains itself for the most part, Cain’s lot would attest. We are looking into the suffering of the Disciple apart from the evil choices we sometimes make. Yet if any man suffer as a Disciple, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. Jesus was totally innocent yet He suffered totally–for us, not for Himself; We are called into a life of suffering by His example–Greek–hupoergammon–a writing copy set by masters for their pupils; Our Father will lead us as He led Jesus-as sheep to the slaughter–we shall suffer innocently. Suffering is something the church at large has problems dealing with; a cold is caught and there is a prayer chain awaiting to claim healing; in her current mode, the church is inhabited by many who believe that the Atonement won her freedom from suffering, when in reality, it opened the door to more of it. Pain without the Sacrifice of Jesus, is pain with no promise or purpose; when a person is covered by the Blood of Jesus, suffering may become privilege that the Lord may be glorified. Jesus suffered for all of us and left us all an example of suffering to which the Godly life conforms because we are to be crucified with Him. The life laid down will most surely see itself suffering for its friends and its enemies. Contrary to popular belief, Disciples are still lambs, and the Atonement did not negate the slaughter. Those who would follow hard after Jesus will know of filling up what is behind in His afflictions. Those who do not follow hard after Jesus may suffer but will suffer in confusion, trying to wrest a painless life out of a gospel that knows nothing of such an existence. Are we not instructed to not let afflictions move us because we know that we are appointed to such?(1 Thes. 3: 3.). Is it not straight from the mouth of the Master that we will, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom of heaven? Are we not to be killed all the day long, as sheep for the slaughter?
The wicked and the righteous
One source of confusion in the suffering area, is the comparison between the wicked and the Godly. Many, in fact most of the wicked, seem to frolic through life, pretty much getting their way and suffering little when compared to the disciples. To many of the righteous, it seems as if their feet are almost gone; their steps well nigh slipped. Many are envious of the foolish, when they see the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride encompasses them about as a chain; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish, increasing in riches, while the disciple suffers and seemingly spends much time in need. Many times in this suffering its seems as if we have had our hearts cleansed in vain, for all the day long we are plagued, and chastened every morning.
This is of much bother to many brethren, but it should not be–Jesus is always our barometer, and if we are truly crucified with Him and He is truly living His life in our mortal flesh, His life will not be any different than it was 2000 years ago–there will be much sorrow, affliction, and oppression, and there will be temporal need. And as we consider the subject, we must see our Father as the One who holds open the furnace door. Many think they are great men or women of God, until they find that furnace door closed behind them. Let us meditate on the life and death of the Master; the end of Job’s discoveries about himself and about our Father as the great Orchestrator of it all. And let us not make the mistake of putting satan on the same level as God. Many speak as the devil is doing this or that, as if God is caught unaware. satan may very well be the author of calamity and suffering, but he does not move without permission from God, so who is really sending the affliction? ”I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7. We must stop kidding ourselves–satan is merely the agent, it is God who is the Author, and that for our good, and God does not try us above the level of which we are able to bear. Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered–are we as disciples above our Master? And how can we as ministers, minister to the afflicted if we ourselves are not surrounded by affliction? Can I say “I know how you feel” when I really don’t because I have not experienced your pain or anything like it? There will be no impact in that statement unless I have walked through a similarly painful experience; then, I may know to some extent how you feel. Pain in this sense then is grace, a gift from God. It is the gift nobody wants. This is the reason for much of the affliction in the body of the Lord today–God would have us afflicted that we would be able to relate to the pain of those who are suffering, and comfort them with the comfort we ourselves have been comforted with– I try to relate to you what grace has purchased for me through my suffering; in fact, anything else I would relate would be just an opinion. But if I can relate to you what God has actually done with me, and apply His words to it, it would show you that Jesus has done a work in my heart and life through suffering, and that will touch you and minister to you, for our suffering Savior will touch it.
Jesus is the Consummate and Perfect Spirituality and His earthly walk was adorned with suffering, not with consolation. Indeed, God is asking many of us–”Have you considered my Servant Jesus?” The constant questioning of the church regarding suffering, and the consistent effort to avoid it, says much about a lack of trust in our Father, and a lack of knowledge of the Truth of the Disciple walk and the written word of God. Our Father very seldom verbally explains Himself when it comes to exactly why we suffer; but the word of truth, rightfully divided, gives us enough insight to nurture faith and trust. We must come to grips with the fact that suffering will mark the life that is living Godly in Christ Jesus.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isa 53:7….As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:11.
Another troubling thing is that many, many people see a suffering brother or sister, and suspect “a door must be open somewhere” or some other such nonsense. As the apostle says, Jesus suffered leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps; oppression, affliction, and untold suffering, were the marks of His earthly walk, and they will be the marks of the life of the true disciple.
For many disciples, the tension lies between the shame of such suffering and the glory of God in it. We as humans tend to lean toward the shame, when unexplained suffering hits. The health-wealth preachers contribute to this attitude. The Scripture commands us to “not be ashamed when we suffer as a disciple”–1 Peter 4: 16. Faith must be purified, and trial and suffering is the way Father does it– It pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Jesus) and put Him to grief–Isa. 53: 10. How much more us? When the flame kindles upon us, when the water keeps rising, when we come face to face with death, when all thy waves and billows pass over us, this is when we learn obedience in walking out our salvation unto the will of God; this is when we look for manifestation of the Master in our mortal flesh, for grace has granted us to an extent, to pick up our cross and follow Him. God’s design is to transform us into the likeness of our suffering Savior, who learned obedience by the things He suffered; the winepress of our souls must be trod, that the new wine of trust be born in us that we may overcome and be given the white stone and eat of the hidden manna and the tree of life.
The Disciple’s reaction to suffering will show much about the seat of his or her true affection. Suffering can make its victim seek nothing but self. The sufferer then tries to muster enough faith for healing, because the prayer of faith saves the sick, and most believe that faith is mustering enough belief to get God to do what we want Him to. And if we can’t muster it, that’s why there is no healing. A score of promises are picked out of God’s word and stood on. Still, though, there is no healing. Ever wonder if this suffering might be appointed by God? Ever consider it a privilege, and contemplate the eternal glory it is working? Many health, wealth and prosperity ministers, would strike Job and Ecclesiastes from the canon if they could. Again, self pity to excess will greatly hinder the death of the flesh, for it is without Spirit, for it is the flesh that produces the “sorrow of the world” that keeps one in pursuit of his life, instead of the loss of it. And we must not forget that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, and through His sufferings, our Father expressed His will for fallen man.
The soul must take her eyes off her affliction, and if she seeks consolation, she will find it when she examines the multitude around her who are suffering at a rate and intensity much more extreme than her own; she then moves in at the direction of the Lord, seeking not her own, but the laying down of her life. When we see this soul undertaking such a route, we know that the Master has resurrected, and suffering that will work an eternal weight of glory has been born by grace. The Lord of the Harvest has been pruning, and fruit overflowing and abiding is about to become reality. The will of God is the only meat of this soul, for Jesus has become the soul of such a soul. Jesus, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: 1 Pet 2:23.
He was not overly concerned with anything but the will of God; and though our emphasis is rightly on His finished course, we must never lose sight of His condescension and suffering that made up that course, and His disposition toward affliction and suffering in carrying out the will of God. If we live Godly in Jesus, the sufferings of Jesus will abound in us, and we will do a part in filling up what is behind in His afflictions. But there will be no comparison with the glory worked. Let us not first seek our healing in affliction–let us seek His will and what He wants from us in our suffering.
*God’s Chastening Hand
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them
It was the suffering of Jesus that perfected the humanity of Jesus. True Godly compassion is always birthed in the furnace. We, as children of God, are brought to glory through the sufferings of Jesus. From His condescension through His crucifixion, Jesus was in the process of sanctifying Himself through sufferings. It is through suffering that we will realize our sanctification. It is suffering that proves the nourishment of faith–with out it, faith would surely die. The writer of our passage in Hebrews tells us God induces our suffering for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness; A life of progressive suffering works out a life of progressive holiness–we are positionally totally sanctified in Jesus, but, as we undergo Godly suffering, we start the process of conforming to God’s will, and working into sanctification, and, working out salvation. Union with Jesus is out of the question until God makes His will our own. It is the scourging of God that lays the flesh bare. The road to the crown is not a road of consolation but a road of affliction unto holiness. It in the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings that we experience holiness–it is no longer some unattainable virtue but becomes ours through the grace of bruising at the hand of our Father. It is chastisement at the hand of God that creates a longing for cleansing and repentance, leading us to the Blood of Jesus; It is God’s chastising fire that consumes the flesh, and draws the spirit to Jesus.
The apostle here acknowledges that the Hebrews have suffered much, but they have not yet so fought against sin that their blood was shed. The insinuation here is that there are others who have suffered more in their struggles. There is also a hint that their sufferings were graduating into a more intense struggle; Jesus had tremendous sufferings when He started on His mission for God, but it was the end of the mission that proved to be the greatest suffering; so us. Many labor under the misconception that as they mature in the Lord that they settle into a place of immunity; Again, the earthly walk of Jesus is our example. God has chosen and ordained martyrs down through the ages, and I’ll guarantee you none of them begged for the stake in their early disciple childhood; it is in minute sufferings that we are prepared for greater sufferings, the glory of God and for Him rising proportionately. So we see great grace beckoning great mercy in our suffering. Many times our own blood is required to authenticate our testimony; The apostle exhorts us to not forget the hand of God is in our suffering. When we as disciples, consider our lot in suffering, let us not forget to consider the sufferings of Jesus, who endured the ultimate suffering at the hands of sinners. Compared to what He suffered, our trials and tribulations are small; He didn’t faint, but finished His course; we also, by grace, must not faint, but must finish the will of God in our lives, no matter the magnitude of the suffering in it. We strive against satan and his schemes against us through men, but most of us in our suffering, have not had to resist unto blood. So let us not faint under the chastising hand of God, but in our tribulation and our affliction let us look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of the faith that is the offspring of our suffering. When we partake of His sufferings, we partake of His holiness.
When the will of God is revealed, we are not to kick against the pricks, nor become despondent over our plight. We must seek Jesus for His patience and His perseverance to bear us up under affliction; as we by mercy endure, we find our obedience unto holiness being nurtured by the grace of suffering. It is in affliction that we become stable in Jesus, no more tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Our suffering teaches us to speak the truth in love, and grow up into Jesus in all things. It is suffering that perfects the disciples for the work of the ministry; it is in suffering that we become unified in our Suffering Savior; it is affliction that teaches us not to walk in the vanity of the mind; Holy suffering enlightens our understanding of our Blessed Jesus, blotting out our alienation to the life of God, opening the eyes of our hearts unto faith above reason, which is the gift of the Master. It is this suffering that helps sustain our sanctification unto eternal salvation, keep us from that which is at enmity with God. It is this affliction from the hand of God that yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
We are in subjection to and under the authority of, God. Such chastisement and rebuke from the Lord, is a necessary pruning for us unto holiness. Behold, God has refined us, but not with silver; He has chosen us in the furnace of affliction. Such chastening confirms the souls of disciples, and should exhort them to continue in the faith, for it is through much tribulation that we enter into the kingdom of God. As we, by grace endure the chastening of our Father let us remember that He takes us by a way which we know not, along a path we have not known; But He and He alone makes darkness light before us, and, crooked things straight–He will not forsake us as we take the cup of suffering from His hand.
Suffering is an intricate, essential, path in which we walk out our salvation. Let us remember that we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. We should not be so concerned with the road we take as we are with its destination. The chastising hand of God proves our salvation, for as the Scriptures say, without it, we are bastards, not sons. The holiest of disciples it seems, are the most afflicted. It is where the suffering leads–what God’s purpose is in it, to which faith in Him must respond. For if we are sons, the Scripture promises we shall be chastened and scourged, which in the original language means flogged. Again, it pleased God to bruise Jesus, how much more us; and is not such bruising great grace that paves the way for holiness unto the will of God? As the Scripture says, only bastards aren’t chastised–suffering at the hands of God proves our position as His sons–this suffering is evidence of our salvation. Its end is sanctification and holiness. We behold the face of God in Jesus our Righteousness: It is the chastising hand of God that moves us into the satisfaction of awaking with His likeness; It is the chastising hand of God that sprinkles clean water upon us and makes us clean; It is this suffering that renders a stony heart to flesh, making way for newness of heart and spirit; Its fruit is our walking in the statutes of God, keeping His judgments and doing them; it is the chastening hand of God that humbles us, and makes way for our crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection of the Lord Jesus in our mortal flesh, removing spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. It is the Blood of Jesus that makes a way for this grace of suffering and purifies unto Him we, a peculiar people, zealous of good works. It is our sufferings that grace our obedience that we might inherit exceeding great and precious promises; It is our scourging and chastening at the hand of God that opens the way for our partaking of the divine nature, providing escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust.
*Suffering: the call is of God
It is amazing to consider the plight of some in light of suffering. Some seem to go through life knowing nothing of illness and defeat; others seem to be separated for suffering. The difference between the plight of the two has made for much religious discussion. Those whom we call the children of sorrows are many, and no one knows when he or she might become the next such child. Many choose to ignore suffering, believing that if it is ignored, it may go away. It is an awesome and scary thing to be thrust into a life of suffering, and not know if it is going to end or not, because there is no end in sight. It is here as everywhere, that Jesus becomes more than a Friend or Brother. There is no place in our suffering where the Master cannot say “I know how you feel.” There are many amazing things about the Master’s sufferings, and chief among them was the fact that His suffering was voluntary. It’s a fact worthy of contemplation in light of the New Testament Scriptures that tell us to arm ourselves with a like mind.
When a man or woman is told he or she has six months to live, one can only imagine what the pain of the disease is going to be like in its final stages. Jesus knew how and what He was going to suffer, and as the day grew nearer His awareness of the coming suffering seemed to grow much more acute. In Gethsemane, Jesus saw Golgotha, which brought drops of blood from His face. The ultimate perplexion–the consummate cup of suffering held in the hands of complete and perfect Innocence–the Ultimate Holy One hung as the Ultimate Sinner. Many tried to divert Jesus from His God-appointed rounds, much like many do to those who are suffering today. Again, instead of seeking Jesus and the will of God in the situation, they seek healing. Healing is the inheritance of the disciples, and we are instructed to pray for it. And we do, but again, as in all things, we must not be seeking our own, but the will of our Father. And as many know, it has been the will of our Father many times, to not heal, but to rather, take the brother or sister home, which many rightfully call the ultimate healing. When a suffering disciple dies, the prayer of faith has saved the sick, and God will in fact, raise them up on that day.
Not my will but Thine
There is no bigger grace in life than “not my will but Thine be done.” Jesus, in the face of God’s will revealed, submitted Himself to it, and in doing so, overcame death for many. When God reveals His will for our suffering and it is not our prayer, what is our reaction? What might be the fruit of a soul who submits to the revealed will of God, when that will requires suffering and even death? Very few know, because very few give in to such a prospect, but rather fight it ferociously, refusing to believe that death is gain. The Son of Man had to learn obedience through suffering–all sons of God do, and all sons of men who are redeemed children of God arrive at perfection by the path of suffering. So says the Scripture and the Scripture cannot lie.
The cup of suffering many times cannot pass from its victim until it is drunk to the drop. For what is it that attracts a man to His Savior? I dare say it is the suffering of Jesus that breaks the heart of a man so graced. For it is in the suffering of Jesus that His love is perceived. Let us remember that Jesus always chose the will of our Father, and in choosing that will, He suffered immeasurably. We must chose this day, which will we shall serve: O Lord we pray that we may know you, and the power of your resurrection, and the fellowship of your sufferings, and be made conformable unto your death; to the praise of the glory of your marvelous grace in our blessed Jesus. A-men
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matt 10:16.
Much can be gained in the explanation of suffering, if we sit down with the Lord and earnestly seek to have His word unlocked. Scripture gives abundant witness that the true disciple of the Lord will see much war before he sees much ground taken; there will be loss before there will be gain, and suffering before the morning joy; We can immerse ourselves in the word of God and that is what we need to do, but our Father will see to it that what we believe and preach will become our testing and battle ground. The overthrow of evil always involves a tremendous war, and there are always casualties. This is the nature of the battle into which the true disciple is sent. Jesus makes no bones or pretenses about it–there will be scourging and there will be pain; such was the lot of the twelve and down through the history of the church we find the lot of the true disciples pretty much the same. People want to hear comfort preached, yet when it is, its fruit becomes the utmost contempt for the hard things of the gospel. History tells us that the comfortable church falls short of the esteem of the heathen and has very little evangelical fruit. The church that consistently undergoes persecution will most times find herself in the will of God, and will see her fruit abiding. Our Father will make sure that the faithful not lose sight of their suffering Savior, and the true church will mirror the sufferings of Jesus, for the true church is appointed to those sufferings. In spite of much modern day teaching, the church will eventually take the form of her suffering Savior; the church, as the disciple, is not above her Master.
When we are sent by Jesus, our end will many times be the end of the early disciples–sheep in the midst of wolves carries with it a connotation of suffering, as does “sheep to the slaughter;” sheep in the midst of wolves are obviously in great and constant danger. Jesus also instructs us to “beware of men”–we may have been graced to have power over devils, but not over men; This instruction is followed by the reason to beware–they will scourge you-those who are used to gain ground for the Kingdom, will be scourged; a study of the Scriptures as well as church history will bear this out. Many in America are not aware, but in other parts of the world, disciples are not only being scourged, they are dying for their faith at the fastest rate in history. Some unto a better resurrection (Heb. 11: 35).Very few in the American church can relate to such a faith and fate. Down through the ages, the true church has been driven by suffering. Absolute surrender and loyalty to Jesus will always produce trouble from men, many times in your own household. Jesus asks His disciples to do no less than He has done; the disciple lives by dying–daily; the true disciple finds, by losing;
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt 7:13-14
The Master never mislead anybody–He consistently warned of the perils and sufferings of the narrow road; strait is the gate, and narrow (afflicted) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The road to Life is truly paved with more affliction than consolation. But let us not be amazed nor perplexed, for we know that all the Master teaches has a large measure of self-sacrifice in it; It is amazing how many today teach that Calvary won disciples a life of ease and comfort of the flesh; The flesh is enticed by satan to enter the broad way, and many there be that go there in; the afflicted way leads to eternal life and there are few–as contrasted with the many who take the broad road, that find it–finding it indicates that there is some effort in locating it–the broad way is easily accessed; the narrow way must be found. Jesus warns us to beware of false prophets–those who would tell you they represent God and that the way to heaven is the broad, easy way; they will appear to you in sheep’s clothing–they will appear as sheep in the fold of the Master, because they will appear to have all the attributes of a child of God, but in reality, will be satan’s people (ravening wolves) who have crept in unawares. There are many such prophets alive and working today, just as the false prophets of old: Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing.
Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruits–their doctrine may be fine, but check the fruit of their work–you’ll find a worm in it.
Thus we have two ways–roads–before us; one is wide, easily traveled and comfortable, with much company, but ends in destruction. Many are leading many down this road under the guise of Christ-centered church leadership; The other is narrow, afflicted, and hard to find, and it will be relatively lonely traveling, but its end is eternal life. Few there be that are finding it. It is the chastising hand of God that leads us to it, for it is the highway of holiness, and it is through our sufferings that holiness is worked.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Jesus, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake; Philippians 1:29
The first step of entering the strait gate in pursuit of the Master, will produce the fruit of self-denial; self denial is not to be sought, it is the fruit of my pursuit of and relationship with, Jesus Christ. Few accept the fact that a life of crisis follows conversion, but it does. It is affliction and suffering that nurture the power of growing in the knowledge and manifestation of Jesus. Forasmuch then as Jesus hath suffered for us in the flesh, we must arm ourselves with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That we no longer should live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. Though Jesus were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; The example of Jesus and what He suffered always points to the glory and honor of God–the fact that Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, would lead me to the fact that suffering is an essential part of my sanctification–the disciple is not above his Master; It bears repeating: if it was necessary for Jesus to suffer, how much more us? Jesus was despised and rejected, buffeted and crucified, this is what defeated the enemy in His life and in the lives of those who chose not to reject this great salvation. It is our crucifixion then, that will lead to defeat of the enemy in our lives, and in the lives of those we die for—death must work in us that life might work in the body of the Lord. Haven’t you heard the multitude stand on “taking my chances on judgment day?” This is the great deception that Jesus repelled back into the face of satan, when satan tried to get Him to save Himself and avoid the narrow, afflicted road of suffering to the cross; Jesus’ suffering of course, stands alone; period. The saved and the unsaved suffer in many of the same ways. The sufferings of this life rain alike on the just and the unjust, the difference being that our Father works honor and glory for Himself and His Son through the suffering of the disciples, while transforming them into the likeness of Jesus–there is always Divine purpose in the suffering of the Godly.
All we ever seek is Jesus, and affliction plays a major part in our apprehending Him. We must remember that the purpose of redemption is holiness–the manifestation of Jesus in our mortal flesh; and though we are positionally holy as children of God in Jesus, our Father is in the business of transforming us into the likeness of Jesus, which is perfect holiness; holiness should prove to be the fruit of the life of the suffering disciple. This is presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice–allowing our Father to work our sanctification as He sees fit, and we know His ways by His work with His Son. God is interested not only in our laying down our lives for our friends, but for our enemies as well. This is accomplished mainly by the affliction they bring. As we suffer, let us remember that the resurrected Jesus proves to us that God has accepted the responsibility for our corruption and has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
It is suffering that breaks the carnal man and allows Jesus to begin His resurrection in him; There is much in the way of defeat if this brokenness has not invaded the life of a disciple in some measure. The chains of the outward man are broken when God leads a soul into suffering–the bread did not multiply until the Lord broke it; Picking up your cross insinuates there will be some blood shed–yours. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Jesus abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Jesus. And whether we be afflicted, it is for the consolation and salvation of others, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. And our hope is steadfast, knowing, that as we are partakers of the sufferings, so shall we be also of the consolation. 2 Cor. 1: 3-7.
Suffering reminds us that we are in fact, outside the camp, sojourners, strangers in this world, and that we must not cleave to anything of it. Suffering is the veil between self and vanity, and it must not be rent; Suffering rather than consolation, truly seeks the face of God, therefore we must arm ourselves accordingly; Godly suffering will show us the gain that is death, banishing fear in the face if death by our Shield and our exceeding great Reward. Godly suffering not only instructs as to how to seek the kingdom, but the cross; the privilege to reign has in its foundation, the privilege of suffering; Our suffering must become our consolation–for is it not that way with Him? Grace shall work it, for trust is not worked except by the grace that is tribulation.
If I love Him with all my heart, my desire is constant in tribulation and consolation, for I must love Him for who He is, not for what He can do for me. True consolation is to be destitute of all things, for poverty is liberty. In its purest sense, this would be poverty and destitution of self–all done with the mind of an unprofitable servant. This poverty of spirit shall inherit the Kingdom. The weakening flesh strengthens the spirit; Does this not make you ready for your cross? Your cross will carry you if you will carry it: The comfort in tribulation is the tribulation itself. Rejoice. Jesus suffered, died, and arose to enter into His Glory. So shall we.
Suffering unto Sanctification
As our Father transforms us into the likeness of Jesus, and as that transformation slowly takes place we will find ourselves suffering more, just as Jesus did in His earthly walk. As we mature by grace in the Lord, we truly discover there is much sorrow in much knowledge. God allows us to suffer that we may know the pain and heartache of others, that we may comfort them; As we suffer let us seek the face of the Lord, for He is our consolation, and it is that consolation that we bring to others as we lay our lives down; we must experience suffering to be able to relate to suffering. It is when we can say “I know how you feel” because we truly do, that lives are impacted by Jesus. Those who are suffering seek out such people. It is in our suffering that we learn the consolation of the Lord.
Suffering in body teaches patience; Ever notice how humble and Godly most people become under suffering? those who walk with Jesus through suffering, see the Master manifest in them because of the suffering; The gentleness that is Jesus becomes their trademark. In order to be transformed by suffering, we must do as Jesus did–we must submit to it; We must beware–God’s purpose in allowing our suffering is to soften our hearts; many become bitter and hard of heart; even in the worst of sufferings we must bless the name of the Lord and continually praise Him; we must suffer and yet worship; though He slay us, we must yet trust Him; He may decide to put us in such depths of suffering that there is nothing that will help but Him, and He may seemingly be nowhere to be found, the way of escape blocked at every turn; trust in self is shattered; trust in others is meaningless; you are left no choice but to trust in God; the sentence of death is in us, and we must come to grips with that fact inasmuch as we are partakers of the sufferings of Jesus; I speak to you from experience. It is suffering that will make you become as a little child, if you will turn to God and let Him work His purpose in it. You will be brought to the place of absolute surrender to Him–suffering is the way of escape, the liberty you’ve been seeking. We have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Paul is saying that God had delivered him before and He will again; we must not be as the Israelites and forget the delivering power of God; He will bring streams out of the rock and furnish a table in the wilderness at the appointed time. Though you may die in the battle, the battle is still the Lord’s; set yourself; stand still; fear not nor be dismayed; you will see the salvation of the Lord: O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. 2 Chronicles 20: 12
Total submission to God comes no other way but by trial and tribulation. It must needs be. For we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For our hope is steadfast, knowing, that as we are partakers of the sufferings, so shall we be also of the consolation. Our prayer is that we may all come to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.
As Jesus walked in His sufferings to the slaughter, His main concern was not preservation of His ministry, but that the will of God be done. His beginning and His finish, speak for themselves of course. Point is, that Jesus left all things to “He who alone judges righteously” and was not overly concerned with anything but the will of God; and though our emphasis is rightly on His finished course, we must never lose sight of His condescension and suffering that made up that course, and His disposition toward affliction and suffering in carrying out the will of God. If we live Godly in Christ Jesus, the sufferings of Christ Jesus will abound in us, and we will do a part in filling up what is behind in His afflictions. But there will be no comparison with the glory worked. Let us not first seek our healing in affliction–let us seek His will and what He wants from us in our suffering.
We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: II Thes. 1: 4-5
It is tribulation and affliction then, that work faith, holiness, and obedience; The Scripture tells us we are appointed to suffering. We overcome suffering by suffering– drinking the cup holding it and by pursuing the will of God in it, and pressing through it to execute that will. Suffering did not hinder Jesus doing the will of God in His earthly walk and ministry; suffering enabled Him to perform the will of God, for it will be in suffering that we find the grace of Godly obedience. It is through suffering then, that I am enabled to obey God and walk out His will unto my salvation; It is thus my suffering becomes my consolation, for the one consolation of my life, is the performing of the will of God in it.
Sickness and health go together; Sickness and pain are a law of the fallen world; the person who experiences the fallenness in this way, is an image of Jesus who bore our sicknesses and our pain; Jesus comes among the sick to bear the law of the fallen world and to fulfill it–“He took our infirmities and bore our diseases” ( Isa. 53: 4; Mt. 8: 17). Jesus saves in that He bears. Healing (including death), shows that Jesus receives and bears the sick in their weakness, a weakness He Himself has borne on the cross; It is as the crucified One that He is the eternal Healer. We see the true state of the world, in the sick. Our health encompasses all our sickness—we are called to a cross, not to health.
The sick inquire about Jesus much more than the well. No proper spiritual care occurs without the offer of forgiveness of sins through Jesus, and bringing Him into the life of the sick in a way that they can relate to Him. Many of the sick resent Jesus, blaming Him for their sickness. The sick must hear of sin, repentance, cleansing forgiveness, and grace. The minister bears witness (in his ministering) that sickness is indeed a sign that God is near, and He is drawing the sick to Jesus.
The minister must be prepared to deal with a lack of patient patience. The pastor must quietly persist in his ministry despite opposition from doctors, nurses, and family.
Give the sick responsibilities to come to Jesus and get intimate with Him; The sick must become worshippers; they must be instructed to intercede for others; prayer will get them through sleepless nights and listless days.
Above all, truth must reside at the sickbed–false comfort should not be given. They need to be assured that above all, they are in God’s hands and it is Jesus who holds the key of death, and it is He who will decide whether to give life in this world or the next–the heart of the sick must be opened to Jesus Himself that revelation faith of the next life be given; Be at peace and let your life rest quietly in God. If you serve communion, get all family members to participate, to keep it in the proper focus. Healing should be Biblically addressed.
The goal of all Spiritual care is the confession that we are sinners and we must come to Jesus to be cleansed of that sin. The invitation to confession is the essence of Christianity; Confession and repentance are the heart of maintenance of the Christian life. Confession silently but decisively proclaims grace, repentance seizes that grace, and both should be carried out daily. Absolution unto liberation transpires when sins are named and confessed and repented of. More importantly, as we approach God, we must as the Publican, have a heart that tells God we are sinners and need our Savior; Mercy and Grace are sought—Mercy and Grace are the Person of Jesus.
This is the last opportunity to speak a Word through which Jesus can make His dwelling in the person; the last opportunity for conversion, confession, or absolution. At the deathbed only proclamation of the gospel, confession, and absolution need transpire. One’s final sighs must lead into the kingdom of God. Death reigns where there is no forgiveness. The pastor should get a moment alone with the person; ask if he or she would like to make a confession and if they are wholly sure of their salvation in Jesus and if they take comfort in that fact; the inquiry should end with absolution for all sins and assurance of the hope of life eternal. Prayers for the dying should be kept short and spoken close to the ear. Ask if the dying person understands that the end is near. The offer of the Sacrament should be made, but not forced–one can die in faith without it.
Luke 12:48. When facing a deathbed where one is in a coma, we must seek God for their salvation. We know that it is God’s will that none should perish:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Pet 3:9
We know that if we pray according to His will we have what we ask:
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. I Jn 5:14-15
We know that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it. And we know that if we abide in Jesus, His saving word abides in us, and we can intercede for souls—even those in a coma—and we shall have what we ask. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7
Why else would God send us to them? And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Ezek 22:30. We are at the deathbed because Jesus sent us there—to stand in the gap for the salvation of the sick, whether in a coma or not. We are not talking here of praying for those who have already died. We are talking about the saving grace and mercy of the Lord, who would rather save through intercession, than condemn. Which glorifies the Blood of Jesus more?
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word.
“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”