That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death… Philippians 3:10This was a prayer I prayed for myself and it is a prayer our Lord delights to answer. As a pastor there were any number of times I had been misunderstood, rejected, disappointed, and used. Hurts and wounds along the way made me sometimes wonder, “How many times can you have your heart ripped out and still function?” It occurred to me one day as I was considering some things that had happened that God was answering my prayer.There is an old gospel song that says, “Jesus knows your hurts; Jesus feels your pain.” When we pray to know the fellowship of His suffering are we not asking to enter into and identify with His pain. It is the natural order that the power of the resurrection follows the fellowship of His suffering. He suffered and was crucified and then He was resurrected. In a very real sense we have been crucified with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. If in Him we died, then with Him we are resurrected. This is established fact; it is a done deal, but Paul in his writing is speaking of something he is aspiring to, looking to attain.That we may know Him is that desire for an ever increasing revelation of who He is, having an intimacy beyond human relationship. It will take eternity to experience and see the unfolding of who God is. I agree with Jonathan Edwards that heaven will be a continuing revelation of the awesomeness of our God. My vocabulary is not adequate to describe what I know of Him now. Paul surely knew Him as well as any one in scripture yet he was setting as His goal to know Him. We want to experience that knowing that continually changes and conforms us to His image.
Knowing the power of His resurrection was Paul’s objective that he might attain to the resurrection in His own body. We have been resurrected, but we shall be resurrected. We have resurrection life dwelling in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. See Romans 8:11 We want the power, but we don’t want the suffering. The suffering came before the resurrection. I believe an essential key to walking in the power of the resurrection is the putting to death of the flesh. Isn’t interesting that the first place the Spirit led Jesus, after He came upon Him, was the wilderness where He was tempted 40 days of the devil. Scripture then says Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. To know His power there must first be a death that takes place.
So what about the fellowship of His sufferings? Once again Paul, just as we have been, was baptized into Christ’s death, so there must be more to the knowing of it than our spiritual position. Some of you have suffered persecution. Some of you have experienced rejection. Probably all of us have known the pain of disappointment. If we are experiencing these things for Jesus sake and His righteousness we are entering into or having communion with His sufferings. Jesus does know our hurts; He does know our pain. Look at just a small portion of the sufferings of Christ.
Rejection: 1) He came unto His own and His own received Him not.
2) After His discourse on bread from heaven where He spoke of them eating His flesh
and drinking His blood, all but the twelve left Him.
3) The rich young ruler ,whom Jesus loved, chose his riches rather than Christ.
4) From eternity past to that moment in time when Jesus took upon Himself our sin and
felt separation from the Father.
Betrayal: 1) Judas turned Jesus in for thirty pieces of silver.
2) Peter, one of the intimate three denied the Lord three times.
3) They all fled for their lives when He was taken captive.
Pain: There was both the physical pain and emotional pain of the beatings, the mocking, and
shame Christ endured on our behalf.
I think often about the Last Supper and how Jesus demonstrated servant leadership. I think about when He came to Judas and knowing fully well that very night Judas would turn Him over to authorities, He washed Judas’ feet. He was serving and showing kindness to his betrayer. Later, He would suffer unbelievable abuse on behalf of not only you and me, but the ones who put Him to death. He died for the one who held the whip, the one who hammered the nails. There is key to how Jesus could so freely give of Himself in John 13.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments: and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’s feet… John 13:3-5
Jesus knew what He’d been given and He knew where He was from and He knew where He was going. How about you? Do you know you been made to be joint heirs with Christ and that He gave you authority and that your ultimate end is with Him? Do you know you have been born of God and you will go to God? If you know who you are, you can be a servant, even to those who would betray you. You can bless those who curse you and pray for those who despitefully use you.
But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the sake of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit and glory of God rests upon you. 1Peter 4:13-14
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
I can pray with confidence that if I want to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, He will answer and not necessarily in that order. The answer might not always be pleasant, but it will have a good work. May Christ give you an ever increasing revelation of Himself.