Early on, the disciples believed that the Lord Jesus would put down the tyranny of Rome and make them the servants of Israel. However, as they listened to the Lord Jesus each day they discovered that He never spoke about over throwing any Government at all. They watched Him daily and heard Him only speak of a Kingdom that would not use any force at that time.
As time went on they would here Him speak of having to suffer at the hands of evil and wicked men in order that the Kingdom of Heaven might be ushered in. How can we call ourselves His disciples if we are honored and even praised by the wicked and evil men in this world still lying in the bosom of the wicked one.? No our honor or praise must come from God and not from the men of this world. The Lord Jesus warned us that those prophets using His name, but not born of His Spirit would be loved by worldly people. If the Son of God came to His own and they received Him not, why must we go about trying to please flesh and blood when we have been born again not by the will of man, but we have been born of God?
Well, we here in the records of the Gospel writers that the early disciples never at any point understood what He meant. They observed Him reviled by all manner of men and He would not revile in return. He faced constant threats of violence and He never once responded to any of the threats. The disciples appeared perplexed by His words and did not know how to interpret His intention. The proof that they never understood His teaching on this matter of His suffering was evident when He rose from the grave and showed Himself to Mary Magdalene, she went back to tell all of them the glorious news and they all thought that she had gone mad (insane).
For three and one half years, He told them of this truth and yet they missed it completely. How much more are we missing it today? We have a countless number of people (some well intentioned) going to lost souls enslaved by sin and still in love with their sin telling them that if they receive Jesus Christ their lives will be filled with ease and they will have no more problems down here. The problem with that is it is false and never ever came from our Lord and Savior.
Christ true followers must suffer many things down here, ridicule, mocking, people laughing at us, shunned, people saying we are insane, etc. for this was the path walked by the Lord Jesus Christ before the sinful men and woman on earth during His 33-1/2 year earthly life. The Lord Jesus taught the disciples of the things that they would suffer for His namesake. He told them at one point that He had many other things to tell them, but that they were not ready to here them yet. Therefore, when He came back in the person of the Holy Spirit, He did just that, He began to teach them all things and this is why we have the Gospels, the New Testament, and the Book of Revelation today because of what the Lord Jesus taught the Disciples.
Now the Holy Spirit teaches us today through the words He has given through the Apostles the things we must likewise suffer for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The world hates the true Lord Jesus Christ (the Righteous Jesus). His words are very direct, bold, brazen, and even harsh to the heart of lost man who wants to revel in his sins and glory in them. Christ speaks of the following things His disciples would exemplify.
1) A narrow way
2) A hard way
3) Mortifying our flesh
4) Keeping underneath our body
5) Subduing our body
6) Our carnal mind is death
7) Hating father and mother
8) Hating our own life
9) Renewing our minds
13) Abhorring or detesting evil
14) Hating evil
15) Guarding our company
16) Speaking no evil
17) Loving our enemies
18) Being poor in spirit
These words are offensive to the natural man and will always be in every generation. The natural man never has and never will want to give up the things of the flesh. He finds these things pleasurable. Christ suffered this reproach because He was not of this world. He has now made us (all who have truly received Him) not of the world (by washing us in His blood) and we must expect the same venomous hatred that He too received.
Hebrews 12:3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds. (Quick Amplified Bible)
Here the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to reflect on our Lord Jesus and consider that He was totally perfect and He endured from His own creation (man) such vile and hateful hostility. We are not better than Christ. We are sinners (as are all the others) only saved by grace.
Think of Joseph (Joseph is a picture of Christ) who endured such hatred and hostility from his own flesh and blood. I am sure Joseph longed to have his brothers love Him and treat him with the loving kindness you would expect from your own siblings. However, Joseph experienced resentment and even hatred from his brothers because of the favor he had with Jacob their father. Joseph did not seek to strike back at his brothers with violent retaliation, though one could not have blamed him if he wanted to do so seeing the things he endured at their hands.
However, Joseph is a picture of Christ as well as in my opinion every believer today who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, did the Lord Jesus endure much of His resentment from the very people He loved and desired to save? Christ is our Lord and Master and He told us as His servants that we would not be better than Him.
The idea that a real Christian should be living in ease is a complete distortion or contradiction of our Lord's own words. When the Lord Jesus Christ saved the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road, he told Ananias that He would show Paul all the things that he (Paul) would suffer for His namesake. Christ did not tell Paul of the glorious riches he would receive on earth or the great popularity or prominence he would ascend to down here. On the contrary, He showed Paul the bitter hatred and animus he would endure for his love of the Lord Jesus Christ who bought him out of sin, darkness, and the devils hand.
Here is a complete and true picture of every true Christian. The Apostle Paul did not seek out men to make them his enemy, but because of his love for Christ, the devil (through men) sought to hurt, harm, and even kill Paul.
In the Apostle Peter's first epistle, written around A.D. 61, the Holy Spirit through Peter teaches us the response of a true Christian to the inevitable persecution that must come to a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter teaches that the response should be one of complete submission to the Person and Program of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our character and conduct must be above reproach to those who are outside of Christ at all times. We must never give them any reason to point a finger and say Ah hah; I told you that this Christian faith was a farce or fraud.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal, which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly]. (Quick Amplified Bible)
Here Peter explains to each of us that the fiery testing of our faith must occur if we have truly been redeemed by the blood of Christ. This world today still hates the Lord Jesus Christ and will not have Him to rule over them. The world we are sojourning in is full of greed, hate, corruption of all kinds, lying, lust and perversion, and all manner of evil. We're not to think that we will get along in such a place as this without suffering. Compromising the Lord's Word will not bring about any suffering, but it will also not allow us into His divine presence.
1 Peter 4:14 If you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear] the name of Christ, blessed [are you--happy, fortunate, to be envied, with life-joy, and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of your outward condition], because the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part, He is blasphemed, but on your part, He is glorified. (Quick Amplified Bible)
The men and women who truly bear Christ name today are not popular with the world and the people still under the control of this world system. We will not bring Glory to God if we suffer for any bad conduct on our part, but we are to suffer because we love the Lord Jesus Christ and will not compromise His Words. Christ told us that He would be ashamed of us if we were ashamed of His words in this evil and adulterous world. The Lord Jesus never removes persecution. The animosity, hatred, and resentment we receive for loving Him is sort of like our fraternity badge or sorority pendent. It binds all of His children together and brings each one of us closer to Him and to each other.
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author, Silent Assassins of the Soul (not yet published; coming soon)
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