Solidarity, Suffering, and Salvation

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:10-18 ESV

God made His Son a man. Through the miracle of conception and the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary gave birth to a baby boy whom she would name Jesus. But He was not just any boy. He was the incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity in human flesh. This is why the writer of Hebrews describes Him as he “who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus” (Hebrews 2:9 ESV).

He became our brother in the flesh. In His incarnation, Jesus became like us so that He could live among us and share the earthly experience of living as a human being in a fallen world. And just a few chapters later in this same letter, we read that Jesus “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT).

He didn’t live some kind of charmed, country-club lifestyle because He was the Son of God. His deity didn’t protect Him from harm, weariness, temptation, testing, or trials. In fact, it was His divinity that got Him into trouble. His claims to be the Son of God brought about the greatest degree of suffering. And suffer He did. In fact, the author of Hebrews says that God made Jesus, the founder of our salvation, “perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10 ESV).

Before Jesus could be perfected or glorified by His Father, He had to take the path of suffering. He could only experience glorification by passing through persecution and pain. And it’s interesting to realize that Satan, when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, attempted to get Jesus to bypass the suffering and go straight to glorification.

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8-9 NLT

But God’s path for Jesus took Him through humiliation, rejection, pain, suffering, and death. The apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus took His earthly mission seriously and obeyed His Father’s will completely, even to the point of death.

…being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:8-11 ESV

It was only after He had walked that path in faith and obedience, that God raised Him up and glorified Him. The sinless Son of God took on human flesh just like us. He became one of us. Jesus didn’t take on the appearance of a man. Unlike the Greek pantheon of gods, who were believed to appear on earth disguised in human form, Jesus was 100 percent human. He wasn’t masquerading as a man; He was a “Son of Man.” That was one of Jesus’ favorite descriptions of Himself.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God. – Luke 12:8 ESV

He was born of a woman, just like every other person who has ever lived. He had to grow from infancy to adulthood and experience all the phases of maturation that every human being goes through. Early in His life, He had to be breastfed, cared for, comforted, and protected. In His adolescent years, He had to do the will of His earthly father and mother. He attended the synagogue. He learned the Torah. He did chores around the family home. He endured ridicule from those who believed Him to be an illegitimate son because Joseph was not His real father.

Without these early phases of Jesus’ life, He would never have left Nazareth and begun His earthly ministry. But those 30-plus years of relative anonymity had to precede the last three years of His life. He didn’t appear on earth in the form of a full-grown man. He grew up.

Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. – Luke 2:52 ESV

Jesus put Himself through all of this so that He could save us. “…that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV).

That was His ultimate mission. Jesus was born to die. But unlike every other human being, Jesus’ death served an eternal purpose. His death was the key to humanity’s deliverance from the power of death. His life became a payment for the sins of mankind.

But not only did Jesus become one of us so that He might die for us, He invites us to become one with Him. He extends an invitation to every man and woman to accept Him as their personal Savior, their redeemer. His suffering and death provided a way for men to be made right with God. Sin separates us from God and we are incapable of bridging the gap because even our best works on our best day are still marred by sin. There is nothing we can do to earn or merit a right standing before God, but when we place our faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, we become one with Him.

We are made His brothers and sisters, His fellow heirs, and sons and daughters of God. But the path to our glorification, like His, includes suffering. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become aliens and strangers in this world. We remain in it but are no longer to be part of it. That doesn’t mean we are to isolate ourselves from it, but that we should live in it according to a different set of standards and as if it is no longer our home.

Jesus told His disciples, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT). The apostle Paul understood that suffering and solidarity with Christ went hand in hand.

In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. – 2 Corinthians 6:4 NLT

There is a purpose behind our suffering. Paul reminds us, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT).

Our suffering on this earth is not pointless. It has a God-ordained purpose behind it. God is perfecting us and producing in us the very character of His Son. Suffering should not produce in us a spirit of resentment but should make us more dependent. Our weakness should remind us of our need for God’s strength and assistance. Our pain should cause us to desire God’s comfort and healing. Our loneliness should drive us to God for His companionship. We have a “merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV) – Jesus Christ, our brother. He has made propitiation for our sins, having satisfied the just demands of a holy God. But He is also making intercession for us, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and reminding Him that our sins are paid in full and our future glorification is guaranteed.

Solidarity, suffering, and salvation. We have each of these in common with Christ because of what He has done. And we can rest assured that one day we will also share in His glorification.

…we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. – 1 John 3:2 NLT

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.