Originally scheduled for March 21
It is a fact: the Christian is tried and
refined in the furnace of affliction. If you want to know a man’s
character, listen to the stories he tells. At first you will be
humorous but as you get to know him you’ll find stories of
affliction and suffering that really made him who he is. None of us
is a fan of being afflicted; but affliction does carry with it some
3:10] if you suffer for Christ, it means you’re on the team. You are
one of Christ’s disciples. Many of us wonder about that; now you
Peter 4:14] the Scriptures explicitly tell us here that when we
suffer affliction for Christ, we are blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Corinthians 1:3-5] one of the great purposes of affliction is that
in our suffering we learn how to comfort others who are going
through the same thing. This builds up the church as well as
building up the Christian.
It sometimes comes as a surprise to a Christian
to find that Christ suffered through affliction as well. As the
primary rule of conduct for a Christian is the imitation of Christ,
it is good to know that he went through it too .
2:9-10] we are told that he was made perfect through suffering. The
phrase does not mean that he was cured of sin, but rather shaped to
God’s purposes completely.
2:18] in particular, we are told that Christ suffered through
temptation as only the truly righteous can.
Peter 2:21] the apostle makes it clear here that much of Christ’s
work, including his suffering, is as an example for us.
Peter 2:24] Peter makes this clear also: by his wounds you are
healed. As was prophesied in the Old Testament, it is by Christ
suffering that we are offered God’s grace.
Communion reminds us of the suffering of
Christ. The bread, which represents his body, reminds us of the
beatings he received, the agony of carrying the cross and ultimately
the crucifixion itself. Crucifixion, the doctors tell us, is a form
of slow-motion drowning.
The wine, which represents his blood, reminds
us of the great drops of blood he wept in the garden of Gethsemane.
It reminds us of the bleeding from his head when they placed the
crown of thorns upon it. Finally, it reminds us of the nails in his
hands and feet and the spear wound to his side. We all know what it
is to suffer. We need to remember that he suffered so that we might
have God’s grace. Therefore, as you partake this morning, do so in a
serious and thoughtful manner as befits the memory of the Son of God
suffering for us.