People don’t like suffering because deep down inside they know that it’s somehow wrong to suffer, and they are right. In a perfect world, we all know there would be no suffering at all; heaven itself is the proof of it. However, until we get to heaven, suffering is an inevitable part of life; with that said, it does not have to define one’s life, much less consume it by endless suffering.
The Suffering of Communion
There are two types of suffering. It is either the result of our sin or the sin of others. The cross teaches us how to overcome both of them. The keys to understanding and appropriating the Victory of the cross in our own life is given to us in the Passover/Communion dinner, which Jesus and the disciples instituted moments before Jesus went to the cross. Speaking of the Passover and the Communion supper, Jesus said ~ “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:14-15). The learned disciple knows all too well his personal ‘COMMUNION’ in the sufferings of the cross. This is what is meant by the word ‘communion.’ We commune or participate in the cross of Christ. ~ “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).
The End of Suffering
Even though Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, He still had to suffer for the sins of others; notwithstanding, three days after the cross all suffering ended. Christ was to suffer never again. The Christian enters into the power of the resurrection of Jesus through correctly understanding and applying the spiritual principles contained in Passover/Communion. ~ “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The third element of Passover, bitter herbs, teaches how to follow in Jesus steps and overcome suffering in our own lives. ~ “Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:8).
The Third Element
Again, we see the three elements of the Passover dinner, which are roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Bitter herbs, the last element, symbolizes suffering, the suffering of the cross and the Christian Life, which comes to an end as we walk in the power of Christ’s Resurrection. According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the bitter herbs in the orthodox Passover Seder (dinner) are chili peppers. (As is apparent, Passover is very similar to the national Mexican dish, tacos, which is also eaten with, tortillas, which is unleavened bread.) In similar fashion to Jesus, who overcame death through death, like Jesus again the believer overcomes suffering through suffering itself. The Bible teaches us that there are two types of suffering. There is the suffering derived from one’s own sins and there is the suffering which is caused by the sins of others. ~ “For what credit [is it] if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this [is] commendable before God” (1 Peter 2:20).
The Suffering of Personal Sin
Just as Jesus overcame the two types of suffering through His birth and through His death, just so do those who follow in His steps. Through the suffering of the new birth, the Christian overcomes his own sins of the flesh, and via the suffering of the cross the believer overcomes the suffering caused by the sins of others. As the Master has taught, all of God’s children are born of the Spirit, following Jesus who was conceived1 by the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. ~ “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Suffering of Sins of Others
The New Testament teaches that the child of God is “IN2 CHRIST,” and this is what the believer sees in the cross of Christ. He sees himself ‘in Christ’ on the cross; crucified with Him, buried with Him, and resurrected with Him, victorious never to suffer because of sin again. ~ “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be [in the likeness] of [His] resurrection” (Romans 6:4). The entire meaning of Holy Week is given to the Christian through the Communion supper so he can understand the resurrection and receive the victory of the cross by participating in it. Through the communion meal; the Lamb of God, the unleavened bread, and the suffering of the bitter herbs are made flesh in the physical body when eaten. They are presented to us in the form of food, so it is understood that just as food is made life to us, so the resurrection victory of the Lamb of God is made real in our lives as we partake of the three elements of Passover.
And raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus,
1. Luke 1.35
2. 2Corinthians 5.17
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© L. Jonathan Blais 2023 All rights reserved. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.