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April 11, 2009
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
From the time we are newborns, it begins. With that sudden burst into the world, our lungs filling with air (maybe after a rude spank), we wonder. We cry, we throw a little tantrum, we smile, we look so cute; we do what we can to get what we need. Finally, someone comes to our aid. Finally, a warm blanket, a loving touch, comfort and consolation. There, there. Mommy's here. Daddy's right here. Jesus knows.
Blessed be God,
even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,
And the God of all comfort; who comfort us in all our tribulation,
That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
By the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our
Consolation also abounds by Christ. 2 Corinthians 5.3-5
We know suffering. It starts when we are young and takes many forms throughout our lives. It forges our character; and in many cases, identifies us. But there is a comfort, a consolation. The Holy Spirit is our Paraclete, the One who comes alongside. And Jesus Christ, our Savior, suffered. Is this right?
On the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, two were walking along and talking about Jesus of Nazareth, who had been condemned to death and crucified. Jesus joined them, though they didn't recognize Him at first. It was the third day, and these guys were confused. Jesus thought them foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken. Was it not necessary for Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And Jesus began expounding the Scripture to them.
Yes, the sufferings of Jesus Christ were no accident, no surprise. It was the plan. Jesus had predicted it Himself as He and His disciples were going up to Jerusalem (Mt. 20.17-19). He would be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He would rise again. He gave details. Resolute, He would go up to Jerusalem and "all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. "(Luke 18.31)
What Jesus predicted in person only reinforced the prophetic plan predetermined in Scripture. The plan began back in the Garden in Genesis 3. Clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins to cover their guilt and shame revealed that sacrifice, blood sacrifice, will be required by a holy God. When Abraham offered up his son Isaac in obedience to God's command and God provided a substitute, God revealed that He would provide Himself a sacrifice. His provision would be seen in a substitutionary atonement.
As Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage, God revealed through the Passover that this substitutionary sacrifice must be a lamb without spot or blemish. The Law established under Moses set forth a sacrificial system that was to be a way of life to demonstrate that there is no worship of a holy God without sacrifice, none. So, God would provide a sacrifice to cover sin, a substitute, without spot or blemish, a Lamb, who could redeem His people and provide the kind of sacrifice that could open up the way of worship, access to the Father, forever.
To this the prophets and the Psalms added details. You can find those details in passages like Psalm 22, Psalm 34.20, Psalm 2, Zechariah 9.9, 11.12, 12.10, Psalm 110, Isaiah 53. It's all there and more.
Jesus suffered many things; it wasn't one dimensional. It wasn't just crucifixion because according to Josephus, some people actually survived crucifixion. It wasn't just physical. Suffering touched Jesus in body, soul, and spirit. The breath (Spirit) gives life to the blood (soul) which keeps the flesh (body) alive. There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, and as Jesus commended His spirit unto His Father after his Blood had been poured out as sacrifice for the sins of the cosmos, He died.
As the captain of our salvation, Jesus was made perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2.10) He was sinless, but as Sacrifice for our sins, He suffered rejection, betrayal, sorrow, grief, affliction, the chastisement of our peace, oppression, aloneness, humiliation, forsakenness, condemnation, unjust accusation, false guilt, injury. He bore our infirmities. The suffering of the soul, emotional hurt and pain, knowing what is in the heart of man, how we are, how we respond; all this, Jesus suffered. He was crushed, wounded, the life drained out of Him. Here is the cost of atonement and here is the graciousness of a holy God in providing a way for forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, propitiation, restoration, and the destruction of Satan's works. Suffering in silence as a Lamb led to the slaughter, Jesus made a public display before the principalities and powers that He is Lord, Lord of suffering, Lord of all. He triumphed. Lesson: Suffering silences Satan as we praise God in the midst of our pain.
Jesus suffered. He knew what would happen to Him before it happened. He knew His disciples would run off and one would betray Him by handing Him over to the Gentiles. He understands the suffering that comes when we need somebody and they aren't there…when others could care less about our pain because they're wrapped up looking for glory without suffering.
That's what people do, some of them. Like the disciples and others during Jesus' day, they want a king, not a suffering Savior. They want glory without sacrifice. They want the anointing without paying the price. They want to bypass the Cross, not take up their cross and follow Jesus. They're unsympathetic. They're not into Paul's take on things: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto
the resurrection of the dead." (Phil. 3.10, 11) Paul wanted a righteousness through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. He would press toward the mark of the high calling. He would fight the good fight of faith and finish the course. He suffered, with the sentence of death in himself that he should not trust in himself but in God which raises the dead and delivers out of death. (2 Cor. 1.9ff) Paul had seen the risen Christ (Acts 9); he was changed permanently.
Whatever pleased the Father, whatever was necessary for our salvation, Jesus would do that in all sufficiency until it is finished, complete, perfect. The perfect sacrifice for sin that God the Father would accept, one that would not need to be repeated, one that would not only cover but purge and cleanse and carry sin away, a sacrifice so powerful, this new covenant in Christ's Blood would break every lesser covenant. This Blood of Christ would cry out on the Mercy Seat over the Law in the Ark of the Covenant. This Blood would cancel the debt note of sin. This Blood would cover, cleanse, carry any believer into the Holy of Holies. This Blood would open access to the Father, make a way for believers to get back to the Father in fellowship and live with a Holy God in the covenant relationship which is the Father's heart. This Blood would destroy the works of the devil. This Blood was the outpouring of Jesus' life and carries within the power of an endless life. Jesus rose out of that grave on the third day never to see corruption. What is the power of suffering? Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave. He is the Lion of Judah roaring in triumph.
If you want to come to God it will take Jesus as the Suffering Servant, the Suffering Savior in your heart. It will mean joining your wounds to Jesus' wounds, being grafted into His body; that the life of Jesus may flow into you…through your woundedness, your suffering. Suffering didn't make Jesus a victim; suffering and overcoming that suffering made Him victorious. The power of God's love raised Jesus from the dead and that same power can raise you out from among the dead into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Be one of those "redeemed with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Peter 1.18-21)
Do you know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings? Then rise and reign in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not dead; He rose from the dead. He lives. Live!
Rev. Jim Craig, the MCM Board, and I thank you for your generous support. As you give generously, gladly, graciously, and as the Holy Spirit guides, you enable us to minister in Christ's Name to the lost, to the hungry, to the thirsty, to the broken, to the displaced, to the forgotten, to the orphaned, and to the poor. I am called with an MCM mission team to Iceland and Greenland in June. We have been previously to Antarctica; now we are sent to the Arctic region. Help us go! God bless you!
Serving the Lord of Glory,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with
our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
To be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8.16-18
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
As though some strange thing happened unto you. But
Rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that,
when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy…
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing,
as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4.12-14, 19
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