To Suffer With Jesus, Part 5
One of the ways we know, actually for sure, that we’re children of God and that we belong to Christ Jesus is the fact that we suffer with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. We don’t suffer because of our opinion. We don’t suffer because we’re Bible-thumpers. We don’t suffer because we’re self-righteous. We suffer because Jesus is living within us, so the many sufferings that are in Christ begin to overflow in our lives. If you are not participating in the sufferings of Jesus you are not a child of God. Let me repeat that. If you are not participating in the sufferings of Jesus you are not a child of God. You are not saved, you have no promise of salvation, and you will not go to heaven. Scripture declares everywhere that if we participate in the sufferings of Jesus we also will participate in His joys.
2 Timothy says that those of us that want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. There are some absolute things that are in Christ Jesus. Salvation is one of those and suffering with Jesus is one of those. That if we are really a people that are baptized with the Spirit, if we’re a people that are really full of the Holy Spirit as Scripture talks about, if we make that boast, if we lay that claim out before the world and we say, “Now look at my life, you’ll see a life full of the Holy Spirit. Look at my life, I know what it is to follow Jesus Christ,” if you tell people to examine who you are, if you boast to other churches that are dead that we are having the Spirit here and the Spirit is alive, one of the things that they’re going to see is the sufferings of Jesus. If you’re not seeing the sufferings of Jesus in a church and all you’re seeing is a lot of rejoicing and “Hallelujah!” and “Jesus!” and “Amens” but you don’t see any sufferings there, you can be sure that the fullness of the Spirit is not there. In fact, you’d better question whether the Holy Spirit is there or not. If you see a great deal of emotion without any sufferings that come from righteousness and holiness you need to go back and ask the Father, “Are they a people that really belong to You? Or are they ignorant of the fact that when the Holy Spirit baptizes us and so fills us and that when that righteousness enters our lives that we will be a people suffering because we belong to Jesus?”
Galatians 4:22 says:
Galatians 4:22-23 – For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
Each of us in Christ Jesus are born because of the promises that are in Christ Jesus. We are promised salvation, we are promised holiness because of the blood of Jesus. We are born because of the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “If I leave and go to heaven then I’ll tell you, I’ll send that which the Father has promised, the Holy Spirit.” So we are a people who claim to be born in Christ Jesus, which means we are born not of the slave woman but of the free woman. We are born of the promise that is in God, which means we are born and filled with the Spirit, if we really belong to God.
Well, there’s something interesting that takes place between these two sons. Now you remember one is of the slave woman, the other is of the promise of the Spirit. And something takes place in the midst of that family. Let’s go down to verse 28, it says:
Galatians 4:28 – Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
If that’s true, if you really claim that to be true, then the second part of this is going to be also true in your life, people will be able to see that. Verse 29:
Galatians 4:29 – At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.
At that time the son born in the ordinary way, the one without the promise, the one that belongs to the slave woman persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. A family where there are two sons, one of the ordinary way, one by the promise of God. The one that was born in the ordinary way, the one that is of the world, persecuted the one born of the promise. Those things apply to us. In fact, he goes on to say, “It is the same now.” The persecution we will receive will come just because we have the Spirit living within us, for no other reason. We are children of the promise, therefore you will be persecuted, you will participate in the sufferings of Jesus. You’ll undergo the same types of trials, the things that Jesus went through, simply because you have become a child of God. You have been born again according to the promises that are in Jesus and because of the blood. For you to stand out there and say, “I’m born of God and I have all the promises in Christ Jesus,” and yet not be participating in the sufferings, for me to look at your life and not be able to see those sufferings of Jesus proves one thing to me and to everybody else. You’re a liar. Not a good enough liar, but you are a liar. You belong to the evil one because not only do you lie to me but you lie to yourself. There is no escaping it. Anyone who says that they belong to Christ Jesus will be persecuted by those born in the ordinary way. Without exception. Without rule, there is nobody that can stand up there and say, “I am so holy, I am so righteous, I belong to Christ Jesus, we are so close that I won’t participate in any of the sufferings of Jesus.” It will not happen. There is no exception to this and you are not holy enough to say, “I’m excused from participating in those sufferings.” Let’s read on. Verse 30 says:
Galatians 4:30-31 – But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
We are people who belong to God and there comes a point in time that those who are within the family will begin to persecute those who have the Spirit. Remember, they’re both in the same family, both belong to Abraham, a man of faith. The surprising place that you receive sometimes the sufferings of Jesus is within the church family of God, a place where you wouldn’t expect to get persecution from. There are people sitting in pews, sitting in churches tonight that you are receiving the heaviest persecution from. You go and present the words of life to them, you just live a holy life, you talk about laying down the trappings of this world, you talk about if you’re going to celebrate in the Lord, to do that in an absolute purity and holiness to God, and they persecute you because of that. They think you are strange and out of the ordinary. It will always be the same. There will come a time when you will have to separate yourself from the slave woman and get yourself totally unto the free woman. There will be a time when God comes to you and says, “Leave them, have nothing to do with them, keep away from them.” There will be a time when God comes to you and says, “They have a form of godliness, they have a form of saying, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but they deny My power by their very life, therefore, have nothing to do with them. Get rid of the slave woman and her child.” Separate yourself, remove yourself from them, and become a pure and holy people. Now we live in the world and we stay in the world and we’re not going to move out of the center of town unless the Lord so wills. We’re not going to wind up in the jungles away by ourselves, but in the midst of all that unrighteousness, in the midst of those people born in the ordinary way. I mean there are people in churches you put them down in baptism water and they come up and they’re still born in the ordinary way. They go down a dry sinner and they come up a wet one, that’s the only difference. And there comes a time when that separation has to take place and you may not have to bring it about. All you have to do is to live as unto the free woman and they will ask you to leave. The persecution will set in; the sufferings of Jesus will set in. And know this: they sing the same songs you sing. They participate in the same activities you participate in and many times they greet you with a kiss, but they are the Judases of this world. They are those who betray you with love. In fact, Proverbs says that the kisses of an enemy may be profuse, they may be many, they may be overwhelming; beware and be on guard.
Let’s look at Mark 14:43. Very often it is the son of the slave woman that slanders you, that wants to say, “Rid him from the earth, he’s not worthy to live,” as they said to Paul. It’s very often the slave woman’s children that twist your preaching and twist the scripture being put out and rob other people of the message of life. But the saddest thing about it is that they belong to the same family as you do. The people who betray you the most severely are those who have worshipped with you, those who have shared in your ministry, those that have partaken of your love and your grace that God has poured into your life. And yet we can’t run, we can’t say, “I’m not going to give myself to a group of people because they’re going to betray me.” We can’t say, “I’m not going to confess sin because somebody’s going to fall away and take my sins and tell them to everybody else.” We can’t say, “I’m not going to share the message with somebody and bring them into the body of Christ and then they turn and leave and so I’m not going to make myself vulnerable.” One of the sufferings of Christ Jesus is you make yourself vulnerable to your enemies who happen to be your friends. You lay your life open for those who are going to walk all over you. Judas participated in the most holy things of God. He saw Lazarus come out of the tomb. He saw the people made well. In fact, Scripture says that if every deed were written down there wouldn’t be enough books in the world to contain what Jesus did in those three short years. And Judas saw many of those. And when the time came to betray Jesus, he didn’t do it in an angry, vindictive way, he did it with a kiss—a kiss of hatred. Verse 43 says:
Mark 14:43 – Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
“Just as he was speaking, Judas,” what does it say? “one of the Twelve,” one of the members of the body of Christ “appeared.” How many people have walked out of these doors as they knew the very deep secrets of my life? They lived here with us and saw the things that went on and they knew what went on in our lives, they knew the love that was laid out before them. They knew the times I hurt over sin and they walked out those doors and I don’t know what they’re going to do with that information. But I don’t get all embittered about that and I don’t get all angry and say, “God, I’m not going to lay my life out open for anybody any more.” Because I remember that my Lord was betrayed by a Judas, one of the Twelve, one of those who belonged to Him. And Judas knew every aspect of Jesus Christ. It says, “Judas, one of the Twelve appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.” I’ll tell you those are not the people you need to fear. If I saw a group of people coming through that door tonight and they had swords in their hands and clubs and they had their Bibles underneath because they were elders and teachers and preachers of the law, and I saw them coming through the door, I’m going to think the first thing in my mind is, “They are my enemies. No question about it. They’re out to get me.” The people to fear the most are those who profess to be your friends; profess to lay down their lives, but are betraying you with a kiss. And what’s behind them is the mob. They can’t wait to turn you over to the mob. Now I’m not telling you not to lay down your life for them. I’m telling you to do that, but not to become bitter, but to trust God who judges justly. If they slap you on one side of the cheek, turn the other cheek. If they lay out all the secrets of your life, then tell some more secrets in your life. If they twist what you say, stand there in silence until you have an ear that is willing to listen and then preach the words of life. One of the sufferings of Jesus is giving to your neighbor, and you’re in a relationship for six months and they love your grace, they love your mercy, they love the fact that you come over and serve them. And then you challenge them that they need to repent or burn in hell and then they become your enemy. And then they start spreading rumors around town about what your life is not about and they twist every little thing that goes wrong. One night you have an argument and there’s some loud yelling that shouldn’t be going on and you repented of that and you’re really hurting for that, but she heard it. And she nails it up on a cross for everybody to see and everybody to laugh at. You don’t become bitter at that woman; you suffer with her because of her enslavement to sin. Verse 44 says:
Mark 14:44 – Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”
What a signal to arrange. How devious a mind. This is what he’s going to do to betray the Son of Man with. “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Betray the Son of Man with a kiss. Not only did Judas betray Him with a kiss, he told them how to lead Him into captivity. He said, “Lead him away under guard and take him.” Judas arranged the whole thing. Ah, you be as shrewd as serpents, but you be as innocent as doves. You know that when somebody’s coming through that door you are to be listening to the Spirit. Are they coming through with all kinds of kisses and love? Are their words dripping with honey, but behind them is an angry mob and they’re just looking for a way to enslave me and to take me away into captivity and to hang me up on a cross? Don’t be taken by surprise. You be listening to the Lord, you be in communion with the Father, but know this, that you’re not necessarily going to be spared from those times, because those are the sufferings of Jesus, of laying down your life for people who don’t deserve it. For looking humiliated, for looking the bad person that you’re not. This is the man who raised people from the dead that they’re now trying to kill. He may have done all kinds of good deeds, indeed, you should be in Christ Jesus, that’s why they’re going to persecute you. But don’t worry about it and trust yourself to the Father. You just rejoice, you’re participating in the sufferings of Jesus. I mean if everybody deserts me in this room, I’ll continue to trust the Father. Don’t become embittered and don’t become angry at the fact that everybody else deserted you.
Look at Mark 14:48. Jesus said:
Mark 14:48-49 – “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
Then in verse 50 He says:
Mark 14:50 – Then everyone deserted him and fled.
Everyone deserted Him and fled. Now these two incidents are close cousins. You may not be a Judas, but you may be one of those who have fled and left Jesus totally alone. They’re blood relatives because they both shed innocent blood. They both are very close to each other, there’s just a fine line between, I guess, heaven and hell. Look at verse 51. It says:
Mark 14:51-52 – A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
If you’re following Jesus Christ, there are going to be times when people are not going to defend you, they’re not going to stand by you at all. They’re going to leave and they’ll leave naked if they have to. You’ll be looking at them and say, “Where is my defense?”
They’ll say, “We’re behind you, we’ll die for you, we’ll stand next to you, we’re your brothers and sisters. We’re with you in this.” And they just go. And then you’re out there and you turn around and they’re all gone. There will be times when your brothers and sisters may not stand next to you and you have a choice, you can become embittered, you can lose your faith and quit, or you can continue to trust the Father. There are going to be times when people come and they slander you. And nobody—nobody is going to raise a word in your defense. There’s going to be a time when a brother or sister is standing next to you and somebody is slandering you or talking evil about you and saying a lie, or they hear somebody else when you’re not around, and they’re not going to say a word. Don’t become embittered at that brother or that sister. Continue to pray. That’s just the sufferings of Jesus. They’re going to leave naked before they’re going to talk and say a good word about you. Or you’ve laid your life down for them, you’ve given them everything, every opportunity, you pray for them, you wrestle with them, you’ve cried and rejoiced with them and now the opportunity comes for them to repay you in some small way to testify that you are in Christ Jesus, but that’s the last thing they’re going to do, because they don’t want to be identified with you, they don’t want to be stuck with you. There’s a whole group of people, there are four or five people talking about you, about how evil your life is in the Lord and rather than say, “I’m a part of that, include me in those sufferings,” they’re going to flee naked before they’re ever going to speak up in your defense. And how easily we want to give up. And how easily we don’t want to love those people any more. Those are the sufferings of Jesus.
Look again at Mark 14, but let’s go back to verse 31 for a moment. It says:
Mark 14:31 – But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
They’re going to promise that they’ll really be with you, they’ll never fail you. They’re going to say it in all honesty, in all sincerity, in all truth and in all love. But they haven’t been looking at their lives honestly and they haven’t been seeing that they really haven’t been defending Jesus at all. They’ve been giving in to the weak moments and so comes the time of testing, comes the day of battle and you’re out there in the middle of nowhere and they’re gone. Don’t let it trouble you. Rejoice that you participated in the sufferings of Jesus and pray for the maturity on the part of your brothers and sisters. Die on the cross, go to the Father and say, “Father, send the Holy Spirit to them that they might have the courage to speak.” Verse 32:
Mark 14:32-34 – They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
He wants them to pray with Him and to stay with Him. “Share in My sufferings,” He’s saying, “look at the trials I’m going through.” And you’re going to long for your brothers and sisters to be with you in those sufferings. You’re going to wish somehow that someone were with you to give you some words of comfort or encouragement, but they’re not going to do it. They’re going to be sleeping while you’re wrestling. They’re going to be indulging the flesh while you’re hurting. They’re going to be participating in falling in sin while you’re struggling and wrestling for the gospel. And then we’ll read again in verse 50, and you’ll see it in your life. It says:
Mark 14:50 – Then everyone deserted him and fled.
“Everyone deserted him and fled.” Everyone who said, “We’ll die for You and we’ll stay with You.” Beware, brothers and sisters, of us boasting to each other that we’ll lay down our lives for each other. Let’s say that with the humility, let’s say that with a deep fear inside of us. How many churches I have been in that people said, “I love you in Christ Jesus.” I mean those words were profuse, they were many. I don’t know where those brothers and sisters are today. And some of those brothers and sisters are my worst enemies. I love them a great deal and they don’t respect my life at all. And when I say, “Oh God, call down fire from heaven and destroy them, they rejected our message,” I could plead to God to open their eyes as He’s opened my eyes. There are people out there who have rejected me just simply because we believe in musical instruments in worship. But oh how they said, “We love you! We’ll stand by you. We’ll be your brothers and sisters. We’ll always be with you.” As 1 John says, let us love not in words but in action and truth. And how they said they would love me in action. They said that emphatically. If I had told them at the time, “I tell you the truth, you’re going to betray me, you’ll become my enemy over this particular thing,” they’ll say, “No, never! We’d never forget you. God has so baptized our church with a spirit of love and a spirit of unity that we’ll never forget you. We’ll always walk in unity. And we’ll do everything within our power to walk in that unity.” And the truth was they didn’t, everyone fled.
Will we really lay down our lives for each other? Or will we lay down other people’s lives for our own lives? It’s the most simple question we can ask ourselves. Before you emphatically say, “I’ll die with you, and I’ll be with you,” be sure that it’s in your heart. I know sometimes people have gotten on me because I’m sometimes not the most overflowing person as far as love goes, or what they think is worldly love. People come and visit in the church and I guess they expect the preacher to come up and shake their hand or stand at the back door and say, “Oh, it was really good to have you here. We’re privileged by your body being here.” Well, I’m glad they came to hear the words of life—for that I can rejoice. I’m not here to pamper their flesh and tell them that somehow I’m privileged by their presence. We all come through those doors humble sinners in need of grace. Better to have someone who never says to you, “I love you and I’ll stand by you,” and then always stand by you and love you though they never speak the words. There are people who can testify to you tonight in this body that I always stood next to them when they were running from me. And that is the Spirit of Jesus that will never leave anybody. I’m not telling you not to say it to each other; I say it to you when I say it with an honest and pure heart. But you watch, you be careful, you examine, you see how many people have fled to save their own skins before you ever profess and share with your brothers that you will always stand by them. It is a most holy and fearful thing to tell a brother or sister that you will stand next to them and then to flee naked for your own skin and to leave them hanging.
Let’s look at Mark 15:1. It says:
Mark 15:1-2 – Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
You’re going to be left alone. You’re going to be in a social group, you’re going to be at a party, you’re going to be at a church and they’re going to say, “Is this the truth in Christ Jesus? Do you agree with this truth in Jesus?” And you’re going to say, “Yes, it is as you say, it is true.” Or you’re not going to make a good confession. One of the sufferings of Jesus is making a good confession. To speak up when it costs you your reputation, when you know they’re going to mock you and ridicule you and twist your words. One of the sufferings of Jesus is speaking the truth and you know—you know—they’re going to twist it. You know they’re going to pervert it. But you speak it, you make a good testimony. “Yes, it is as you say, I am the king of Jews.” You’re going to stand up and say, “Yes, spiritual gifts exist,” and they’re going to go out and make fun of you and think you’re lost. They’re going to pity you. You’re going to say, “Yes, coverings are a joy from the Lord,” and they’re going to think you’re legalistic. But you’re going to make the good confession. Those are the sufferings of Jesus speaking the truth.
Look at Revelation 1:9. You remember Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Now, Timothy, join with me in participating in the sufferings of Jesus.” We have that option tonight, all of you do, whether you want to say, “Okay, Lord, I want to join with You in suffering and in the sufferings of Jesus and all that that means. I want to taste at least a little bit of that.” You have a choice. You do that or you can leave here not a child of God. Revelation 1:9 says:
Revelation 1:9 – I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
“I, John . . .” These things are ours in Jesus. Ours, not mine. I, John, am suffering, but these things are ours in Christ Jesus. These belong to all of us. Praise be to God, they belong to all of us. He said he was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and what? The testimony of Jesus. Your testimony. One of the largest sufferings of Jesus is the testimony of Jesus. It’s standing up and speaking the words of life in a gentle and loving way. “I was on an island.” What does that mean? “I was alone. They put me out where they thought I wouldn’t do any good. They tried to shut me up, they put me in a corner. They took me away from all my fellowship that I felt when I was in the body of Christ. They put me on an island, on Patmos, so I’ll just evangelize the people who are here but they put me out there away from everybody because of the testimony of Jesus.”
Revelation 6:9. It says:
Revelation 6:9 – When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.
If you maintain a good testimony the world is going to want to kill you. Those born in the ordinary way will persecute those born in the Spirit. Ah, good testimony. One of the people that maintain a good testimony, I don’t mean you just speak up once, boldly, and say, “I spoke up boldly once.” And for the next sixty years of your life you went around boasting, “I spoke boldly once for You, Jesus.” They maintain a good testimony. They speak boldly once and they speak boldly twice and they continue on until they can go boldly into the kingdom of heaven. Quit rejoicing in all your past glories. Continue to maintain a good testimony. If you do, if you come into me and say, “Look, I’m maintaining a good testimony,” if I come challenge you in love and put my arm around you and say, “Now, look, are you maintaining a good testimony?” and you say, “You bet I am.” Yet you don’t share in the sufferings of Christ, it’s worthless. That just causes a pagan to say, “What do I want to do with God? I’m just as good as they are. If they’re getting into heaven then I’m cruising in.” And if God judged by those standards they probably would cruise in. Are you participating in the sufferings of Jesus? If so, you participate in the joys. If you are, then I can tell you’re a child of God. I can tell that you’re maintaining a good testimony. Let’s look at Mark 15. Let’s just lay aside all these flimsy excuses, whatever they are. “I was scared.” “It was overwhelming.” “I didn’t know what they’d do.” Yeah, you do. You already know what they’re going to do, they’re going to twist, mock, ridicule, slander, and do every manner of thing they can do to you. Quit worrying about it, they’re already going to do it. Maybe by some chance some people are going to come to the Lord. And even if they don’t, you will at least have known that in love you have laid down your life for people. If you’re doing this just to be perfect, that’s just self-righteousness. If you’re doing it because you love Jesus Christ and you fear God and you love them, then there is some credit to what you’re doing. They’re bowing down and mocking Jesus. It says:
Mark 15:18 – And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
You’re going to say you’re a Christian, they’re going to say, “Ah, Christian that you are,” they’re going to begin to mock you. “You think you’re better than everybody else. All hail, king of the Jews. You think you’re just more holy than everybody else.” That’s one of the first things you’re going to hear. Just try to live a godly life and they’re going to say, “What makes you think you’re so superior?” And you’re going to tell them, “Absolutely nothing. Any good you see in me is Christ Jesus.” But that’s not good enough. They want you to indulge in their sin. They’re going to mock you and ridicule you. They’re going to look for any flaw they can find in you and they’re going to say, “Are you the king of the Jews? You’re weak. That’s just flesh. We just got through whipping and flogging you and we’re going to put a crown of thorns on your head and the people just betrayed you and you’re the king of the Jews?” The world is going to take your life, it’s going to hold it up, it’s going to ridicule it and make it look lousy and make it look miserable and if you listen to Satan long enough you’re going to come under a guilt and a condemnation that leads to self-pity and doesn’t lead to life, but they’re going to drive you to the ground. They’re going to mock the fact that you belong to Jesus and make you look as terrible as you can possibly look. “Ah, hail the child of the king, here he is. Boy, he’s really godly.” They’re going to look for things they can find wrong in your life. And if they can’t find them, they’ll make them up. Verse 19 says:
Mark 15:19-20 – Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They’re going to hit you on the head. They’re going to make you stagger. You’re going to be so weak with all the questions they ask you and all the accusations they bring at you and all the words they bring to you, you’re head’s going to spin. I’ve been drug before people at times and they had five hundred questions. They’d say, “We just want to talk to you.” And I’d say, “Fine.” They’d sit down and they’d read off all five hundred and say, “Okay, go ahead and start.” They weren’t interested in the answers. They just wanted to confuse me and wipe me out. And sure enough at times I was foolish enough, I’d answer a fool according to his folly and get right in there with them. I’d try to answer all five hundred of those questions. But one of the sufferings of Jesus is they’re going to come for your head. They’re going to take a staff, they’re going to take something solid, something they think they can hold on to and they’re going to hit you with it. They may even take the word of God and hit you with it. They may twist it and take it in a perverted way and swing it across your head. They’re going to spit at you in contempt; they’re going to come in with words, let me tell you. They’re going to come in and lay a robe on you and say, “Oh, we know you’re a Christian. We know you’re a fine godly man, but let us ask you these questions.” But they’re after blood. Look down at verse 29.
Mark 15:29-30 – Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and built it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself.
Another suffering in Christ Jesus is they put you on the cross, you get up on the cross, you deny yourself, you pick up your cross daily and they’re going to say, “What are you doing on the cross? Get down and save yourself. You look so foolish doing that.” One of these days you’re finally going to wake up and take seriously what Jesus said. In everything you’re going to do, they’re going to say, “What are you doing up on the cross? Come down and save yourself. What do you mean go to church? We’ve got a picnic planned. Come down off the cross and have a little life, will you? Be a little more like us. Get down off that cross and take the nails out and quit carrying your cross daily and come on, just have a little fun. Ah, you know, one little drink won’t hurt.” Or they’re going to tell a joke and you’re not going to laugh. They’ll say, “What’s the matter with you? What’s that church doing to you, anyway?”
We went to visit her family, they said, “She’s just not the same any more. I don’t know who she is.” Of course we’re all praising God and they’re going “Who is she?” She’s got Jesus Christ living in her now. Ah, “Save yourself.” How they’re going to mock you and tell you to come down off that cross. What a suffering it is. You don’t want to be up on that cross. Your flesh is screaming to come down. God finally gets you up there and instead of everybody coming and saying, “Ah, godly man or woman that you are,” they’re going to tell you to get down. That’s the last thing you need to hear. I mean the first thing you need someone to say is, “Stay up there and die and you’ll experience the resurrected life.” But no, you’re going to hear from your friends, your family, your wife, maybe your husband, everybody that you know. And your friends are going to say, “Get down off that cross and quit dying to yourself. Quit hating your father and your mother, your wife and your children, your brothers and sisters and leaving everything. And quit following this Jesus. That church has just gone over on the extreme. You’re just over religious. Come on down, save yourself. Be a little more like us.” That’s the last thing you need to hear and how many people are taken in by that? All because of one thing, they don’t want to participate in the sufferings of Jesus. They don’t want to be a child of God. They don’t want to go to heaven. They don’t consider Jesus to be a buried treasure because those of us who do, hang on that cross. When people say, “Come on down” we say, “There’s no way I’m going down to that misery. I’m going to be lifted up as far as I can into heaven. And I’m going to live the resurrected life. You keep your world and you keep your sin. The cross is before me and I’m not going around it on the other side.” But how easily people come down. How easily we say, “Ah, I’m a Christian, I received this gift and I have this part of the Spirit.” And yet they come down off the cross and live. It can’t be. We have to participate in the sufferings of Jesus. We have to maintain a testimony that belongs to Jesus. Or please stand up and say, “I’m not a child of God, I don’t want to be a child of God. I want to indulge my flesh.” At least be honest enough to do that. “Come down from the cross and save yourself.” Verse 31 says:
Mark 15:31-32 – In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
What’s that mean that they heaped insults on Him? Another suffering of Jesus is that you’re honestly, now listen, that you’re honestly being crucified by the Spirit and there are two people on each side of you that are crucifying themselves by self-effort or by their religion. You have Catholicism on one hand, you have Church of Christ doctrine on the other hand, or any other number of things you want to label on there. You have all kinds of self-effort out there and each one is crucifying himself by his religion, his doctrine, his opinion, his own life. He’s up there suffering and they heap abuse, guess on who? Those born of the Spirit. Hosea says because of your sin you think the inspired man is a maniac and a prophet is considered a fool. Oh, they’re up on crosses. You look at them and it looks like they’re on the same cross as you are, but you know what the truth is? The absolute truth is they’re up there on a cross of self-effort and you’re being crucified by the Spirit because those born of the Spirit are persecuted by those born in the ordinary way. And I know brothers and sisters tonight that are preaching a gospel that is nothing more than human effort and they’re on each side of the cross, one side are those being crucified by the Spirit and they’re heaping insults on those that are being crucified by the Spirit. And they boast of that sin, they are proud of that sin, they maintain that sin, they preach that sin, and they love it that way. And they look at the inspired man and they say, “He’s a maniac.” And they look at the prophet and they say he’s a fool. They get very, very close to committing the unpardonable sin. “Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Don’t be surprised if it looks like there are people carrying their crosses and they look godly. They look like they’re shedding blood for Jesus, they’re sacrificing everything, but it’s a cross of self-effort. When are we going to be a people that can determine the difference between someone being crucified by their own strength or by the Holy Spirit? When are we going to be a people that wake up as Romans 8 talks about and says that if you crucify the sinful nature by the power of the Spirit you will live? Not if you just crucify the sinful nature. The day you do you’re going to be willing to cry, you’re going to be willing to make a good testimony to both of those people on each side of the cross. You’re going to say, “You’re on a cross of self-effort, it’s of no use. You’ll die in vain.” Hebrews said that they didn’t combine the message with faith and so they fell short of the message. If you speak the word, if you hang there long enough, if you pray there long enough, if you preserve, if you maintain the testimony of the truth, guess what one of those thieves is going to say? “Remember me when you come into your kingdom. Remember me.” And then you can turn and rejoice and say, “I’ll tell you, today you’ll be in Paradise.” Oh, if we’re a people full of the Holy Spirit there’s a difference between when I die on a cross and when somebody else dies on a cross. Let that sink in well to us. There are people in Muslim religions that are sacrificing everything, they’re in prison because of it. There are people in the Christian religion, with tremendous evangelistic techniques and people coming in and people being baptized but it is a cross born in the ordinary way. They ridicule and they mock those who are being crucified by the power of the Spirit. Let us pray that they wake up. But let us never give way and get on the cross that they are on. There is no life in that.
Let’s look at Hebrews 11. People are going to tell you to save yourself, come down off that cross that’s causing you so much pain. You’re going to live the Christian life in such a way that people are going to say, “Why are you being so hard on yourself?” Now it’s not going to be hard to you. It’s a narrow road, it’s a joyful road, but to everybody else in the world that looks hard. Again, I want to say again that if people aren’t looking at your life, if people aren’t looking at the message your church is putting out and saying, “Now that is a hard teaching,” then they’re not hearing the message of Jesus Christ. Because when the people heard Jesus preach they said, “That’s a hard teaching, who can accept it?” And the same thing will happen today when people hear the message being put out by the Spirit they are going to say, “That is a hard teaching.” And if they are not hearing it they’re on a cross of self-effort and you’d better leave it, and you’d better run from it and go find out what the message is. Hebrews 11:35 talks about some people who belong to the faith. It says:
Hebrews 11:35 – Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.
“Women received back their dead, raised to life again.” Now that’s some of the glorious aspects of being in God. Some of you here can have a child die and he’ll be back again because it’s in Christ Jesus. But look what happened to other people. It said others were tortured, well, that’d be good enough. Most of us could stop there and say, “Well, if we had no choice I could be tortured for Jesus, I guess, if I’m boxed in a corner.” But guess what happened? They put you in prison, they tortured you, you can think of all the number of ways that could come about, and the guard comes along one day and he says, “You’re free to go. We’re not going to torture you any more. You can walk out on the street.” And you say, “No thanks, I’d rather stay.” They’re going to say, “Well, all that torture went to your head. That’s the strangest Christianity that I’ve ever heard.” What happened to all this prosperity doctrine that was supposed to come along? All this peace that was supposed to come along? These Christians have flipped out being in there a little too long. They say “Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.” Now that’s a strange group of people, a people that delight in the sufferings of Jesus. You delight in insults, you delight in persecution if God brings it about in your life. And yet how many people you’d preach this message in a church tonight and they’d run from you. They’d think it’s some strange message. They’d say, “That’s too hard, that’s too strange.” These are people who were tortured and they said, “You can go,” and they said, “No, we’ll stay. We want to gain a better resurrection in Christ Jesus.” Again, I warn you, don’t go out here in self-effort and get on a cross and say, “I refuse to come down.” That’s of no value, you will gain nothing from that. Anyhow it says, “So that they might gain a better resurrection.” Verse 36:
Hebrews 11:36-38 – Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
That’s a godly people. Oh, you might receive your child back from the dead and I’ll praise God for that. You might receive tremendous blessings in Jesus, but if you receive those blessings as God intended to receive those, you’ll participate in the sufferings. You know what one of the first things that happened to Lazarus was? After Jesus raised him from the dead? That’s a tremendous miracle, right? That’d be a good testimony, wouldn’t it? God kills you and you come back alive. First thing the Jews are going to do is try to kill you because your testimony is of the power of Jesus. They’re going to be after you, you’re going to die all over again. Any blessing that comes from God will also bring about the sufferings of Jesus. That’s what Romans says, as we participate in the sufferings so we participate in the joys.
There are going to be times when you receive blessings from God and then there are going to be times when it appears like God has forsaken you. Mark 15:33 says:
Mark 15:33-34 – At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
If you participate in the sufferings of Jesus there are going to be times when you’re being humbled and you’re being broken and people are walking all over you and you’re going to say, “God, where was the power You promised me in Christ Jesus? Where is the sense of victory? Where is the resurrected life?” We don’t always feel powerful. We will cry out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” It’s a life by faith and not by sight. It’s a life of trust and how you’re going to long for some peace and compassion, for someone to give you some compassion, for someone to say while you’re up there on the cross that God is with you. But you know what they’re going to offer you? Something very, very bitter. Verse 36:
Mark 15:36 – One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
They’re going to offer you bitter wine, wine vinegar. It’s going to look like an act of kindness, but it will be bitter. Anything the world offers you will be bitter. And you know what the worst suffering in this whole part is? It’s not the wine vinegar but the fact that they quote scripture. “Let Elijah come save Him. Let’s see if Elijah comes.” They’re going to take your own scriptures and they’re going to come to you and say, “This is the abundant life. God saved all these people. They were thrown into an idol with blazing fire and God saved them but you’re going to die.” Everybody else is going to be living and preaching a prosperity doctrine and faith in Jesus where all you do is plead the blood of Jesus and everything goes fine, your car runs fine, if you’ve got a broken toaster, you plead the blood of Jesus and it works again. While everything else in your life just falls apart. While all you’re doing is participating in the sufferings of Jesus and you’re going to be tempted to say, “My God, my God, where are You? Are we on the wrong track? Is this the wrong message? We’re out here alone on the island of Patmos, have we wasted our ministry?” Paul, fifteen years after being involved in the ministry, went and talked to the other apostles because he thought he had wasted that time. There are going to be times when you’re alone and you wonder where God’s at and the world’s going to mock you and they’re going to give you bitter stuff to drink. And they’re going to quote you scripture. Those are the times for holding on to your faith and holding on. “Ah, let’s see if Elijah saves Him.”
Let’s go to Mark 16:1. It says:
Mark 16:1-3 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
Now you’ve got something happening here. Inside their hearts these women know that when they get up there that stone won’t be there, it’ll be rolled away. Inside their hearts there’s that faith that knows the body of Jesus isn’t going to be there. But everything about the intellect, everything about the flesh, and everything about the world says that stone’s still going to be there. So I can just see them talking, if you really believed the stone was there, why would you walk up there? Something’s moving them, something’s drawing them. You’re going to be hanging on a cross, you’re going to be dying, you’re going to be in the very lowest bottom of the pit. You’re going to be saying, “My God, my God, where are You?” But inside there’s going to be that ray of faith that says, “God, I trust You.” Because there is victory. Just as the sufferings of Christ overflow in our life so does the joy. God will never let you suffer without giving you the joy and the faith to get you through. He may say, “Now the joy’s before you, endure the cross.” But there will be that hope, there will be that ray of hope in Christ Jesus. God will never, ever leave you alone. Who rolled away the stone? But they’re going anyway because God doesn’t leave His people hopeless. Maybe they said, “Maybe an angel will roll it.” I don’t know. Verse 4 says:
Mark 16:4-7 – But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
It didn’t look like it but He told them there would be victory. Jesus has told us there will be victory in Him. No labors in vain, no suffering, is not taken into account by the Father. No tear is shed, no pain is endured, but the Father takes it into His hand. No child is taken away from its mother because they profess the name of Christ Jesus and God doesn’t take that into His heart. No one, no saint is put into prison that God doesn’t count the days and the hours that they’re in prison and the rats that they’ve had to eat. No suffering and no prayer and no hurt and no lonely times and no good testimony is forgotten by God. He will remember it all. And He will make those who claim to be Jews but are really of the synagogue of Satan come and bow down and acknowledge that I love You, as the book of Revelation says. God will take into account every rejection that has been given to you and He will give you every acceptance in Him. It’s up to you, do you want the acceptance of the world or the acceptance of God? Then join in suffering with Jesus.
Romans 8:17 says, “Now if,” and if you haven’t circled that word “if,” circle it.
Romans 8:17 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
“If indeed.” Circle, underline, highlight, I don’t care what you do, put it in your heart, whatever, if indeed a couple of things take place in your life. “If indeed we share in his sufferings” and here’s the promise, here’s the good news, “in order that we may also share in his glory.” Those who suffer with Jesus share in the glory of God. You’ll inherit the Master’s happiness. You may be in the pit for a couple of days, everybody rejecting you and leaving you, but let me tell you, the comfort will come and the grace will be there. I can testify to just a little bit of that. Compared to the other saints, that’s no testimony at all. But I can testify to a little bit of it. With each passing day the encouragement grows and the faith grows because God is faithful. If you share in the sufferings you will indeed share in the glories and the joys of Jesus Christ.
And finally let’s look at Revelation 2:10. Let’s just read the whole thing. Let’s go to verse 8. It says:
Revelation 2:8 – To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
What did we just read? Who rolled away the stone? Who came to life? If you suffer with Jesus you will participate in the joys.
Revelation 2:9-10 – I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.” You decide tonight that, “God, I will not be afraid of what I’m going to suffer in Christ Jesus. I will not be afraid.” I’m not going to worry about what I’m going to say to people, I’m not going to worry about what I’m going to act, what I’m going to do. I’m not going to worry if I’m going to survive and give a good testimony. I’m not going to worry about if my body is stretched apart and racked with pain and they say, “Now if you will deny Jesus Christ we will let you go,” I know that in my flesh lives no good thing. I would not be able to uphold a good testimony but I know with Jesus living in me I’ll be able to do it. “Don’t be afraid of what you’re about to endure. Look at Me, get your eyes on Me. I know your poverty, I know your weakness, I know your afflictions, I know people slander you, I know they claim to be Christians but are not. They’re really the synagogue of Satan.”
Do we want the crown of life? If you do, then join with me in suffering for Jesus. Verse 11 says:
Revelation 2:11 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
“At all.” We will inherit the joy of the Lord. We will inherit all the kingdom and all of Paradise. We’ll inherit the power and the majesty, we’ll be dressed and ready for the great wedding day. But there’s only one kind of worthy bride, only one kind. Those who have participated in the sufferings of Jesus. Every single person that has not participated in the sufferings of Jesus will be cast out with the dogs and with the cowards and with those who burn in hell for ever and ever. There are two types of Christians: Christians going to hell, Christians going to heaven. The ones that go to heaven suffer with Jesus and participate in the joys; the others participate in their own joys and will suffer for eternity.
Let’s sing that song, “I Want To Know The Sufferings Of Jesus.” And let’s let that be our prayer and our hope.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional. The original audio tape can be ordered free of charge by contacting Sound Doctrine Ministries.