The common belief taught in Christianity today is that we are supposed to endure “Suffering” due to our belief in Christ. Christianity explains to us that “Suffering” is a tool of God that He uses to teach us things.
I went through the book of Matthew and located 34 instances where “Suffering” was mentioned. Each instance fit into 1 of 3 categories under the general umbrella of the devil stealing, killing, and destroying. Each category had specific adjectives that described the type of suffering and I have listed those as well.
1. Persecution: A direct result of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and God.
Reviling(to assail with abusive language), false accusations, Rejection, Slander, Hatred, Premeditated murder, Judgement, Unbelief, Trying of patience, Plotted against, Death, Crucifixion, Scourging, Affliction(oppression/distress), and Deathly sorrow.
NOTE: Some of the items listed under Lamb Slain below, can be added here, since they have occurred to others in the OT and NT.
Betrayal, Conviction of death, Mocking, Scourging, Crucifixion, Spitting in the face, Buffeted(fist strikes), Smote(slaps), and Being bound.
2. Trials and Tribulations:
Poor in spirit, Homelessness, Life threatening storm, Destitution, Disappointment, Hunger, Famine, Pestilences, Earthquakes, Sorrows, and Struggle with fleshly desires. Anything else under stealing, killing, and destroying that does not fit into the Persecution category above is considered to fall into this category.
3. The Lamb Slain:
As the Lamb Slain, Jesus is the only one who could undergo the whipping post scourging and crucifixion for the purpose of remission of sins. Other OT prophets and NT disciples underwent some of these things under the Persecution category as mentioned above.
Betrayal, Conviction of death, Mocking, Scourging, Crucifixion, Spitting in the face, Buffeted(fist strikes), Smote(slaps), Premeditated murder, Being bound, False accusations.
I wanted to look at the life and words of Jesus and His disciples to see if “Suffering” was advocated, what kind, who was supposed to suffer, and if we are supposed to subject ourselves to it.
Types of “Suffering”:
- 52.94% of the time(18 out of 34), Persecutions were mentioned
- 29.41% of the time(10 out of 34), Trials and Tribulations were mentioned by Jesus or the disciples.
- 17.64% of the time(6 out of 34), Jesus suffered things associated with being the Lamb Slain.
Who “Suffered” Persecution:
- 61.11% of the time(11 out of 18), Jesus suffered Persecutions
- 16.7% of the time(3 out of 18), Disciples suffered Persecutions
- 16.7% of the time(3 out of 18), common man suffered Persecutions
Who “Suffered” Trials and Tribulations:
- 60% of the time(6 out of 10), Jesus suffered Trials and Tribulations
- 30% of the time(3 out of 10), common man suffered Trials and Tribulations
- 20% of the time(2 out of 10), Disciples suffered Trials and Tribulations
Response to Persecution:
- 66.66% of the time(12 out of 18), Jesus directly responds to the Persecution with words or actions.
- 44.44% of the time(8 out of 18), Jesus directly Refutes the Persecution to the point that men cannot argue with Him anymore in the situation, and at one point never ask Him any further questions.
- 27.77% of the time(5 out of 18), Jesus explicitly states to His disciples and the attending crowd, that they would undergo Persecution.
NOTE: Jesus indicates that this Persecution is a direct result for His name sake, meaning that those who undergo the Persecution would be doing so because they were uplifting the name of Jesus publicly as more important than anything they were facing. The Persecution was NOT experienced randomly or in surprise.
- 27.77% of the time(5 out of 18), Jesus does not respond to the persecution because He was not present, he gave a description that did not warrant a refutation(parable or general statement to a crowd, usually regarding end times), or it was associated with the destiny of being the Lamb Slain.
- 22.22% of the time(4 out of 18), Jesus leaves the situation where persecution is experienced and directly advocates for others to do the same.
Response to Trials and Tribulations:
- 90% of the time(9 out of 10), Jesus or God directly responds to the Trials and Tribulations with words or actions.
- 60% of the time(6 out of 10), Jesus directly Refutes the Trials and Tribulations with words or arguments.
- 50% of the time(5 out of 10), Jesus directly Resolves the Trials and Tribulations with action and demonstration of Holy Spirit power.
- 10% of the time(1 out of 10), Jesus explicitly states that mankind in general would undergo Trials and Tribulations.
NOTE: Jesus gave a description that did not warrant a direct refutation or resolution(parable or general statement to a crowd). However, Jesus did indicate that His second coming would fully resolve the trial and tribulation, and the other facts in this section seem to indicate that there is enough resources NOW in this Life in Christ, to refute and resolve any Trial or Tribulation that might come our way.
- 10% of the time(1 out of 10), Jesus does not respond to the Trials and Tribulations mentioned because he gave a description that did not warrant a refutation(parable or general statement to a crowd, or was speaking about forthcoming events).
Below is a listing of 34 times where a situation of suffering was spoken about or actually occured in the book of Matthew.
John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Without knowing how Jesus has loved us, we shall find the task of loving one another most impossible. Only when we are empowered by the divine knowledge of His love for us and then subsequently abide in that love are we able to truly love our neighbor as ourselves. Only then are we able to lay down our lives for each other. And only then are we able to live for others and not for ourselves.
Seeing this, we must find out how Christ loved us. What did he do? What did he say? How did He love?
Earlier Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Jesus loved us by acting out how He saw the Father love Him. So here we ask the question, How did God love His Son?
Examine the scriptures and see for yourselves. Weren’t they one? Wasn’t God constantly affirming and encouraging Christ. Wasn’t He constantly supplying power? Wasn’t He consistently enabling Jesus to grow if favor?
What do you find? How can you apply it to your loving of others?