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34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?[1]

Source: Mark 8:34-37

God has a goal in mind for us. God’s goal includes the suffering of taking up the cross of Yeshua [Jesus]. God’s goal includes victory. It isn’t either/or. It is yes/and.

How should we approach suffering? Yeshua [Jesus] challenges us to embrace it and make it our own. There is a learning lesson in suffering. We see, in a mirror, our character.

  • How do I react?
  • Is it spiritually mature?
  • What can I do to love more?

Yeshua [Jesus] is our model. Jesus is in the lead. Jesus embraced his suffering to fulfill God’s goal.

Why should we think we are immune?

Here is the context of the cross and suffering:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.[2]

Source: Matthew 16:21

This is the first of four times in which Jesus predicts his arrest and crucifixion, but as much as he tries to get his disciples to understand the necessity of that mission, they continually misapprehend its significance. Instead of being a revolutionary liberator, Yeshua [Jesus] will be a suffering Messiah, something that even his own disciples, let alone the crowds, have great difficulty fathoming. By claiming the necessity of suffering death at the hands of the religious leadership of Jerusalem, Yeshua [Jesus] begins to reveal the ultimate destiny and purpose for his life’s ministry. Nothing must deter him from his mission. While this in a sense is martyrdom (the act of choosing death rather than renouncing one’s religious principles), it is not martyrdom in the traditional sense. While others in Jewish history had experienced martyrdom, it was for them a consequence of their convictions; for Jesus it is the purpose of his entrance to history.

The single article that refers to three groups responsible for Yeshua [Jesus]’ suffering (“the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law”) indicates the combined leadership of Jerusalem. “Elders” is a generic title for anyone whose age, experience, and character has resulted in a position of leadership within groups such as the Pharisees and Sadducees. The “chief priests” are part of the ruling aristocracy over primarily Judea during the reigns of the Hasmoneans, Herod, and the Roman governors. They came from four prominent families of chief priests who dominated Jewish affairs in Jerusalem at the time of Yeshua [Jesus] up to a.d. 70. They alternately supplied the offices of the high priest, captain, and treasurers of the temple. The “teachers of the law” or “scribes” were professional interpreters of the law, especially associated with the Pharisees in the Gospels.

But not only does Yeshua [Jesus] give the first prediction of his impending suffering and death at the hands of the official leadership in Jerusalem, he also gives the first prediction of his resurrection: “and that … on the third day [he] be raised to life”. The passive voice used here testifies to the Father’s activity in protecting his Son from the “gates of Hades”. Yeshua [Jesus]’ earlier allusion to being in the earth three days and three nights is now directly related to his death, burial, and resurrection. “After three days” is the typical way of referring to any portions of days and nights. Yeshua [Jesus]’ resurrection will be the event that transforms his disciples into the foundation of the church, though for now they cannot understand the significance of what Jesus predicts.[3]

Good news: We will suffer with Jesus when we carry our cross but we will also share in his resurrected victory and all the abundance that goes with it.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Master Jesus the Messiah, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in the Messiah’s sufferings, so through the Messiah we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. [4]

Source: 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 8:34–37). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 16:21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Wilkins, M. J. (2004). Matthew (pp. 569–570). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 1:3–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.