Summary: 1.0 The question of whether suffering insofar as a Christian is concerned is biblical has been bordering the minds of several Christian. indeed, Jesus, calls us to participate not only in glory but also in suffering. how do we share in this suffering?
2.0 The inescapable experience of suffering of Jesus and His followers: (Mark 8:31)
2.1 …OF Jesus
Jesus, the Messiah’ experience was a paradox. The paradox of salvation, power & dominion and suffering. That the Messiah had to suffer was unthinkable. How can the Christ in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily suffers from the hands of His creatures? This is the mystery of divine love in manifestation.
The Son of man must suffer many things:
The Son of man must be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes
The Son of Man must be killed
2.2…Of His Followers
In clarifying the terms and condition for those who desire to follow Him, Jesus was emphatic when He said, “whoever desires to come after Me, Let him (1) deny him/herself (2) take up his/her cross to follow. in this way, Jesus brings out the different between and other masters in which the would-be-disciple/follower had the option to choose the kind of commitment he/she desires. For Jesus, no one can follow Him on their own terms and conditions. Again, Jesus does not force anyone to follow Him. However, if you indeed desire to follow Him, then you need to satisfy and respond on His own terms just as an employer determines the job description for an employee. Jesus in this way, Jesus tells us having a desire/wish to follow Him is not enough. It must be followed be a desire to accept His terms. Many people today, just like Jesus’ time, desire to follow Jesus but on their own terms. It is interesting to know that all those who had a desire to follow Jesus but came with their terms and conditions were turned down (Luke 9: 57-62; Mark 10: 17-31). Jesus I this way, outlines the inescapable suffering of His followers in two familiar phrase that clearly expresses intentional and willingly suffering: (1) deny yourself (2) take up your cross.
To deny (aparneomai- Greek) means to disown, disregard or abstain.
The cross was an instrument of capital punishment. Figuratively, an exposure of death. Until we deny or disown ourselves, we cannot subject ourselves to the shame, pain, ridicule and death of the cross. Jesus was able because He denied Himself of who He was and humbled Himself (Phil 2:5-1). This is the only way we can go through our suffering not because of our sin, but for the sake of the gospel.
Practical examples of how you and I have to deny ourselves and carry the cross: when we refuse to speak the truth for fear of imprisonment; when we sleep with people to secure job; among others
3.0 Worldly thinking: The Major Hindrance to becoming a partaker of Christ’s suffering (Mark 8:33, 35-38)
As humans as we are, none of us desires to suffer. Each of us dearly loves our bodies and lives. None of us desires to die, be sick, of struggle. But unfortunately, Jesus tells us that some of these things are inevitable. Paul puts it this way: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly Lives in Christ will be persecuted” – 2Tim. 3:12. But like Peter, none of us want our loved ones, more so, our breadwinners to suffer. This was the feeling of Peter when Jesus began teaching them why He must suffer. Earlier, Jesus had testified that Peter spoke by a divine revelation when He said Jesus was the Christ (Mark 8:27-30, Matt. 16: 13-17). It is interesting to know just after that, Jesus rebukes Peter and calls him Satan (Opposer/adversary). Why? Peter did not like the idea of death and suffering. He did like the cross of Christ. He couldn’t reconcile how the Christ should go through all that.
Because Peter at this stage was moved by feeling and emotions rather than the mind of God and thus opposed the mission of Christ (unknowingly), he had become an adversary or an opposer (Satan) to Christ. He in this way, assumes the office of Satan himself who is the chief accuser and opposer of all that Christ desires. Peter’s rebuke reveals how the devil uses even the so called “spiritual giants and oracles of God” in the church if we are not in tuned with the mind of God through the Scriptures. We read of similar experience in 1Cor. 3 where Paul says he couldn’t address the Corinthian Church (which was known by their gifts, 1Cor. 1:4ff) as spiritual but carnal.
Jesus reveals what influenced Peter: “you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Mark 8:33). Peter in this way became worldly. Those who are mindful of the things of men rather than God cannot suffer for God and opposes God. Jesus reveals three classes of such people in this passage:
a. They are not willing to lose their life for the sake of the gospel (Mark 8:35): they will rather save it by their own means.