But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
Why did the prophets tell us Christ would suffer long before He did? Was it so God could reveal to us that He could see the future? Certainly, He knows the future and is not limited by time the way we are for one day to Him is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. (2 Pet 3:8) He doesn’t exist in time, but rather, time exists in Him! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:8) But our text says much more than that He simply knows the future. God is in fact the author of the future. Christ suffered because God planned it that way from the beginning for He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”! (Rev 13:8)
Suffering is needful in our lives and serves many purposes. It was needful in Christ’s life. The fullness of his humanity is seen in Heb 5:8 as we read “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” The Lord was taught by sufferings! Further, in Heb 2:10 it says “it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Wow! He was made a perfect captain of our salvation by sufferings! If the holy, harmless Lamb of God needed to suffer, certainly all of those being conformed to His image do as well. In fact, the next verse says, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified ARE ALL OF ONE, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…” Yes, our pattern is the same.
As we saw in our main text, Christ’s suffering was part of God’s eternal plan, but what about ours? Is our suffering also under God’s careful direction? Beloved, EVERYTHING is under God’s careful direction, and our suffering is no exception! Eph 1:11: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…” If God’s so intimately involved with you that the very hairs of your head are numbered (Mt 10:30), do you think He will leave the suffering you go through to chance? Suffering is part of the plan for God’s people. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” (1 Pet 4:12) Don’t think it strange because it’s all transpiring according to God’s eternal purpose!
So, what’s the point in understanding that blessing AND trials ultimately come from our heavenly Father’s hand? Without that understanding, we cannot live as we are called to live! Have you ever asked to know God’s will? I’ve got great news! Here it is!! “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Th 5:16-18) How can you rejoice all the time and give thanks for everything? By understanding that your life is not unfolding in some chaotic, unexpected way to God. I know life constantly surprises us, but God is actively involved in the lives of His children, working every circumstance–good or bad, easy or hard, sweet or bitter–for their ultimate good. If it won’t in time benefit you and work for God’s glory, God will not allow it in your life, Christian! There is great comfort in that truth if you can embrace it. Rom 8:28-29: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” May we trust that God has our best interest at heart in the peaceful AND the painful times. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)