most of us do not like the idea of being uncomfortable. not to mention using the word suffering when referring to our state. Paul wrote, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8: 17, KJV, Tyndale 1987). according to Ellicott’s Commentary, to suffer with him correlates to Matthew 20 when Jesus asks the sons of Zebedee if they can “drink of the cup that I shall drink of.” i want to expound upon that thought and explore the glory to come.
James and John responded in the affirmative when Jesus asked if they would be able to drink of His cup. Jesus acknowledged that they would indeed drink from the cup. that they would also suffer for the Kingdom as Jesus was preparing Himself to do. the passages above are comparable to 2 Corinthians 1:5, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.” Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” and Colossians 1:24a, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you.”
Merriam-Webster defines suffer as both a transitive and intransitive verb, meaning “to submit to or forced to endure, to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable, and to endure death, pain, or distress.” the Jewish community of the day expected a great military leader to release them from their oppression and elevate them to a level above all other nations of the world. they did not wish to be told that their present sufferings would be compounded. the occupation of their ancestral lands was terrible enough, but they had each other, and they had their religious customs. now they would be divided within themselves over the identity of this “son of a carpenter” and His new doctrine. the division would include ridicule, persecution, and death caused by acquaintances and family members.
the Gospel was taking hold across the land; congregations were growing. what made this type of suffering, and worse, tolerable? hope. hope in Christ, His achievements and legacy, and His promises. this hope looked to the future toward a risen and glorified Savior. it still holds to the promise that He would return and collect the faithful. as joint-heirs with Christ and sons of God, we walk in the Spirit and watch for the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:19 uses the Greek word “apokaradokia” for earnest expectation. literally, a straining forward with an outstretched neck.
Colossians 1:24b states, “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” as we stretched forth our necks in looking for His return, we should continue in the ministry of reconciliation that we have all been called to (2 Corinthians 5:18). any suffering, or division of kinsman, is unavoidable when drinking the cup. time should be spent focusing on Kingdom needs and giving hope to others. some will not receive it, but there is always that one lost sheep to be found and returned to the shepherd.
1 John 3:2 puts it like this, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” i’m looking forward to that day. if i must drink of the cup, it will be worth it all. today is the day of salvation; let me assure you of the hope found in Christ Jesus!