And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Mark 8: 34- 35
“Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ. This is why the suffering of Christians is nothing disconcerting. Rather it is pure blessing and joy.”
Suffering is not random. As we look at our Lord’s life one thing is certain, it was not random. It was carefully planned from all eternity and foreshadowed in history by the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit working out salvation to the last detail. Our Lord Jesus was a man, a real man, obeying the will of his Father through the Spirit to accomplish what could be obtained in no other way, the gospel, our salvation.
This text comes right after Jesus’ statement that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” He knew where he was going and what was going to happen.
Jesus did not want to suffer any more than we do and Satan knew it. Peter begins to rebuke Jesus, his Lord and Teacher, saying that was not the plan. And Jesus says, “get behind me Satan, you do not have in mind the things of God (including suffering) but the things of man (no suffering)”. Without suffering, nothing would have been accomplished. Remember Jesus in the garden, “Father if it is not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Redemption of God’s people required the suffering Son of God. There was no other way.
Our Lord’s life, planned to perfection, included suffering and we see the glorious result. Our lives, the lives of believers, are no less planned to perfection by our loving and heavenly Father. Our denial of ourselves, taking up our cross, submitting to our Father’s will in all things…we know that in God’s wisdom these things are working to a glorious end. By faith we rejoice in suffering because it is sent by our Father and he knows the glorious end and is bringing us to perfection. That is something to which we can commit ourselves and consider pure joy and blessing.