According to current culture – suffering to be avoided at all costs, largely because it has no meaning, no purpose. Even more disturbing: Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Holocaust, ISIS atrocities and the like are just things that happened with no ultimate meaning or purpose. Now let’s get a bit closer to home: what about suffering experienced by fellow Christians – members of the family: where is ultimate meaning in that? Not interested in attitude that tries to minimize suffering – oh, that’s just the way it is in rotten, sinful, fallen world; just wait till you get to heaven, won’t even be distant memory then.
Jesus didn’t look at suffering that way: “he was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matt. 14:14) just one of several times Jesus’ earthly ministry described that way. “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples” …. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:1-4) Suffering of the church important enough for Jesus to take it personally, rebuke Saul of Tarsus for it.
This morning, considering the place of suffering in God’s plan, with particular emphasis on “the captain of our salvation” and connection with justification. This evening, the place of suffering in our life from perspective of daily experience.
A. the setting: suffering up to and including the cross and grave v.9
not simply suffering indignity, embarrassment, privation of stuff
“From now on all human suffering must be understood in the light of his suffering; it is the source of meaning, hope, and new life for sufferers. When someone cries out, “He doesn’t care. He’s immune to pain,” they are brought to the foot of the cross to see for themselves…. The cross and resurrection hold the key to the mystery of suffering.” Randy Becton
Jesus “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” – just the beginning of the “list” in Isa. 53:3-11 describing suffering we read about, talk about, have limited understanding about
he “became a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13) – treated as a real sinner, bearing the full guilt of all those he came to save
real suffering, real death, real experience of the wrath of God in place of sinners – the demands of God’s justice satisfied for each of his brothers
was not accidental – “was made…”: his suffering, his humiliation was 100% on purpose, intentional…part of God’s eternal plan
must have been significance to his suffering since Jesus has been “crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death”
remember promise of Isaiah: ” When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.”
B. the Mover v.10a
“Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things” – in other words, “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”
is because he exists that there is meaning, significance – no God, no significance beyond what mankind can arbitrarily assign, and for how long? a few years? maybe a few generations?
if all we are is the product of random mutation fueled by chance and impersonal forces, what’s the point? what’s the purpose?
Bible makes it clear, this text in particular – there is a transcendent God who began it all, who has determined the end or goal of it all, who is working all things toward that goal he has established
is the Mover who assigns significance and meaning to all things that occur under his providential goverenment
since the Mover, God himself, is eternal, he has prerogative to assign eternal significance to things like suffering
2 Cor. 4:17-18 “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
not only purposeful on God’s part, He thought it was proper to treat his Son that way – how can that possibly be true?
questions judge asks defendant when he pleads guilty to a crime: “Were you at any point threatened or coerced into making this plea? Do you understand the penalty to which you could be sentenced? Do you understand the rights and privileges you are giving up by pleading guilty? Do you agree with the substance of the evidence against you?”
how would Lord Jesus answer those questions if the Judge of all the earth should ask?
threatened? No! voluntarily out of love. penalty? of course! privileges? left them behind at the Incarnation! agree? absolutely and without reservation
not just any defendant before the Judge – this one is the substitute for every redeemed sinner from Adam to the end
is Sovereign Creator God who determined how he would treat “captain of our salvation”, then went ahead and did it
C. the meaning v.10b
“bringing many sons to glory” – God’s design from before creation, his gracious purpose for us
God’s big picture is that Jesus would not be an only child! plan from the beginning that “he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29)
“Only by the Son tasting death could the sons of God be delivered from the ruins of the fall; only thus could the righteousness and mercy of God be reconciled.” A W Pink
only by adoption could they acquire necessary credentials for participation in eternal life – we think adopting an orphan is expensive, try adopting a fallen sinner
significance of Lord Jesus’ suffering and suffering of his brothers and sisters: is one of the essential elements necessary to bring us to glory
Jesus’ suffering not an accident; not plan B; not something that caught God off guard, definitely not a case of cosmic child abuse
God the Creator, the beginning and the end, for whom and by whom are all things, determined in his infinite and perfect wisdom that the only suitable way to bring ruined sinners to to position of honor is through path of suffering
just in case you’re wondering: no shortcuts allowed – Mark 14:36 “And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.””
don’t try to circumvent God’s perfect plan and purpose for your life by trying to avoid affliction at any cost
D. the method v.10c-11a
“perfect through sufferings” of their Captain and in which they share; “He who sanctifies”, “those who are being sanctified”
but, you say, I thought Jesus was already perfect; how could he be made more perfect than perfect? more complete than complete? Isn’t Jesus the Best? How can he need anything?
God doesn’t need anything outside himself to be God; but…God purposed that his children would never have opportunity to tell him “but you just don’t understand! yes, I know you know all things, but it’s not the same – you haven’t lived it like I have. you have no idea how tough it really is.”
truth is, Lord Jesus can rightfully say that to us, we can never say it to him: the Lord Jesus has gone through suffering, not just generic-one-size-fits-all suffering – he has gone through your suffering for you so you won’t have to suffer the pains of eternal death, the awful torment of God’s righteous wrath
Jesus also experienced real human suffering for the duration of his stay here on earth; in Christ, God has redeemed your suffering
it is no longer tool of sin and Satan to hold you captive and derelict; is a tool God uses to bring about your perfection
not Lone Rangers but followers of our Captain, fellow pilgrims and soldiers
the Captain of our salvation became one of us that we might become like him – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)
an indescribable privilege granted to adopted sons and daughters of God to be made like the natural Son, Jesus
God doesn’t reinvent the wheel – doesn’t come up with wholly new way to perfect us, different from one he used on Jesus; that means we are traveling along same road, following in footsteps of Jesus
we have two-fold responsibility: follow the Leader, encourage brothers and sisters to do the same, giving them hope and help along the way
remind them to look to Jesus with us as we follow along together; remind them he is with us in our troubles
E. the mystery v.11-13
it gets even better than the captain of our salvation simply being with us: “He [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brethren…”
Jesus identifies with us – he calls us brothers, he communicates God’s truth to us as brothers because we are of oneorigin
Jesus is truly the God-Man – fully God and so able to redeem us, fully Man and so able to represent us
Jesus so identifies with his church that our suffering is his; our union with Christ means our suffering “fill[s] up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” (Col. 1:24)
Jesus worships with us (12b) – he sings praise to his Father “in the midst of the assembly”
yes, he is at right hand of Father interceding for us; he is also “in the midst of the lampstands” (Rev. 1:12-13), identifying with us as we come before Father in worship, helping us to worship, sanctifying us and speaking to us
Jesus brings us safely home – “Here I am and…”
not a single one of those given to Christ for whom he died and rose again and lives to make intercession for will be missing
not because of our genius, rather because the Captain of our salvation makes sure he fully achieves the Father’s purpose
not one iota of Jesus’ suffering or ours will be without significance in God’s ultimate good purpose for us
If it was fitting for the natural Son to be prepared for glory by suffering, so must it be for adopted sons and daughters. Peter puts it this way: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4:13) Are you sharing in Christ’s sufferings today? They are but for a little while and will be replaced with joy and gladness when he returns in great glory.