The Sufferings of Our Master
The apostle Peter says, “The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” There are many kinds of suffering in our world. There is physical suffering. I know something about it,for I did not have any health until I was fourteen years of age. But there is a suffering that is keener and deeper than physical suffering. Yonder is a person who has enjoyed great liberty and purity in Christ. But in an unguarded moment, and under the stress of temptation he falls into sin and shame.He sadly disappoints his friends, his hopes are blighted, his future is wrecked, his family is disgraced, God is offended and the Spirit is grieved. What would physical suffering be compared to suffering like that? Spiritual suffering is keener than those of either the mind or the body. Let me call your attention to two things in this marvelous passage of Peter. (I Peter 1:11)
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I. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST
“The sufferings of Christ.”
Our God entered the realm of human suffering through Jesus Christ. John says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Father had never hungered, but Jesus hungered and found no fruit upon the fig tree. God never slept, but Jesus was born with fatigue and slept in the vessel on the wind-swept lake. God was never weary, but Jesus sat weary on the well’s curb. God neverlabored, for He commanded and it was done — Jesus blistered His hands at the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and trudged up the hillside at even tide to His little cottage with the earnings of the day. The Father had never known the silence of the tomb, but Jesus laid Himself down in the tomb.
Jesus staggered down the street of Jerusalem, and struggled up the hill to the cross. His suffering was so great that the sun in all its strength and beauty refused to shine, and pulled sackcloth of darkness across its face. The moon looked cold and sad, and refused to look upon the horrible scene. The red-fingered, lurid lightning played around Golgotha’s brow, while Horeb splither granite ribs, and the cedars of Lebanon bowed and swayed with awful grief — the earth heaved and broke its heart, while the mountains were convulsed with heart-breaking sorrow. And on the cross God met hell’s most malignant challenge and conquered in the realm of its own selection. It was hate meeting love, anarchy meeting holiness, carnality meeting purity, hell in combat with Heaven, Satan matching arms with Jehovah, and there could be but one issue — Heaven was victor.
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II. THE GLORY OF CHRIST
“And the glory that should follow.”
It was the glory of salvation. The Master said, “It is finished.” The great plan of human redemption was finished. This salvation saves all types of sinners. Yes, all may come to this cleansing fountain. The high and the low, may come to this royal fountain that was opened up. The deep-dyed sinner may come to this wonderful pardoning Christ. The believer may come to this glorious fountain, and be cleansed from innate depravity. What a glorious plan that embraces all men, in all climes, and in all ages!
This is also the glory of immortality. “Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” I have often wondered how unbelievers could bury their dead and not die. The heartbroken heathen beat their heads upon the ground and wail without hope. When death came into my home, I walked the street, but people did not seem to understand that I had lost the dearest one in all the world to me. Yes, our little boy of eight summers had been taken from us.
I walked out into the field, and the flowers bloomed with the same blush and tint as if there were no death in the land. Even the birds seemed to sing as blithely as ever, and sang on as if no one were dead. I wandered out under the stars, and they shimmered on in their glory, and the moon shed her silvery beams across my path as though no one had ever died. I said — “Who can help me? How can I bear it? Who can solve the riddle of life?” But thank God, Jesus left a light burning in the tomb that all the doubts and storms of the centuries could not extinguish! Thus, immortality is sure — a future life is guaranteed. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Glorious hope!
There is the glory of conquest. In the days to come Jesus will break into pieces the kingdoms of this world. He shall set up His wonderful kingdom that shall never come to an end. In the days to come He will possess the earth that He purchased with His own blood. The Word says,”Every branch which is not of my Father’s planting shall be plucked up.” The day will come when all wars shall cease. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
This blessed Conqueror shall give us a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. He shall set up His kingdom that will never be destroyed. In that day righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters now cover the sea. Sickness and death shall be banished from the earth, and a little child shall play with the asp. The wolf and the lamb shall lie down together. What a glorious day awaits the saints of God! Soon the Lord shall take away all sickness, and wipe all tears from our eyes. There will be no more sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. He shall make all things new, and unto the end of the ages He will be King over His people. Blessed Hope!