A Crucified Life Leads to a Resurrected Life
By Tom Brown
The living room was packed with people. Our church was just a year old at
the time. We did not have our own building so Bible Studies were conducted
in the homes of our members. It was common for the host to feed us—usually
Mexican food. After feasting on menudo (a Mexican soup not for the
faint-hearted) we were especially excited on this night because, in lieu of
the regular Bible Study, we were going to watch the hot-selling video at the
time: It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin by Tony Campolo.
good reason for the popularity of this message. It was hilarious, yet the
message was poignant: despite the difficulties of life, just like Christ who
experienced the awful suffering on Good Friday, we can expect God to turn
things around just as He did in the resurrection; hence It’s Friday but
Sunday is Coming.
message I saw the resurrection differently. No longer was the resurrection
just an historical event that happened to Christ1 but the
resurrection has implications for me as a believer. I will go through some
dark times in my life—but it’s only Friday—Sunday’s comin! Other ministers
have picked up on this theme and preached it to their own congregations. I
have done so myself on numerous occasions, usually on Easter.
felt something was missing in the message. I had preached this message
often, yet I had seen believers still living in “Friday” and Sunday was NOT
Coming. They have waited and waited for the breakthrough, but nothing has
happened. They are still sick, broke and defeated. Wives and husbands waited
patiently for God to heal their marriages, but it ended in divorce anyway.
Pastors, whose ministries were on the verge of closing, heard the message,
and was expectant that God would give a spiritual breakthrough, yet I have
seen these churches close down. What happened?
need to wait longer? Maybe so, however, I felt there was another problem.
Maybe they did not qualify for the resurrection. Then I came across a
familiar passage of scriptures that confirmed this. This well-known passage
took on a new meaning.
I want to know Christ and the
power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the
resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11)
Paul shared the
concept of It’s Friday but Sunday is Coming. He wanted to experience
the resurrection in his own life. Surely he was not talking about a physical
resurrection, because how could he long for a resurrection in his life while
he remained physically alive. A physical resurrection belongs to those who
have died. Paul was speaking of resurrection power. Resurrection
power can make alive dead dreams. Resurrection power can turn dead
situations around. Resurrection power can transform lifeless situations. Do
you need this resurrection power?
Become Like Him in His
As I meditated on
this passage God began to give me insight. Notice carefully that Paul said
he wanted to know both “the power of his resurrection” and “sharing
in his sufferings.” It hit me! You cannot be qualified to experience the
power of His resurrection if you have not shared in His sufferings.
You might say,
“Hey, wait a minute pastor, I have suffered so, so, much.” Ah, suffering is
no proof you have “shared in his sufferings.” Notice Paul said that
he wanted to “become like Jesus in his death.” This is how you share
in His sufferings—you become like him in “his death”. Dying is no
proof you are “like Jesus.” Suffering is no evidence you are “like
Jesus.” The message Paul was conveying is not that we should desire to
“suffer” but when we do suffer, we should suffer in the “manner” that Christ
suffered. Christ’ example of suffering is the pattern for our own suffering.
In other words, “how” you suffer is the key to whether you qualify for a
resurrection. When you suffer, do you look like Christ when He suffered? Do
people recognize Christ in you when you suffer?
God told me, “Tom,
the trouble is when preachers tell people to just ‘hang’ in there and Sunday
will come. My Son did not simply ‘hang’ there on the cross. He did something
that led to His resurrection.”
My eyes were
opened! I realized that I cannot give people false hope that their suffering
will end and Sunday will come. If they do not “become like Him” when
they suffer, then they will not become like Him in resurrection power.
carefully about the suffering of Christ on what is called Good Friday2.
The gospels take their time in dealing with His suffering on this day. They
go into great detail as to how Christ suffered. As I contemplated the
suffering of Christ, God revealed seven important principles of suffering as
seen through Christ life. If we will incorporate the seven principles in our
own suffering, then we truly become like Jesus in His death.
1. “Simon carried the cross.”
Jesus did not suffer without
help. He needed Simon to help carry His cross. This showed humility. He did
not try to accomplish redemption without human aid. The principle is clear:
Do not attempt to suffer alone; get help.
Often the drug
addict will shun help, “Leave me alone, I can stop when I want.”
struggling with their marriage often makes the mistake of trying to solve
their problems alone.
A sweet couple in
my church had serious marriage problems. When I heard what had happened I
contacted them, but to my surprise, they basically pushed me away, “Stay out
of our business. We love each other and we can work it out.” In just a few
short months this once strong couple divorced. How could this happen? It’s
simple; I was like Simon coming along to help carry their cross but they
slapped my hands and told me to leave them alone. They struggled to carry
the cross by themselves. They could not. If Christ needed help then surely
we are not stronger than Him. We need to seek the help of “Simons” in our
lives and let them help us.
2. “Do not weep for me.”
blocks God’s aid. When Jesus had every reason to solicit sympathy He
refused. He told his mother and the women not to weep for Him. Yet the
reverse is often true of us. When we suffer we want the limelight to shine
on our plight.
“Can’t people see
what I am going through? Doesn’t anyone care?”
Self pity is
really pride. It’s pride to suffering. Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration
because I have sacrificed so much.” Self pity does not come from a sense of
unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. The person
does not feel unworthy; they just want you to recognize how truly worthy
they are. They are looking for applause—not for their achievement—but for
the amount of suffering they have had to endure. This was not true of
Christ! Although He was a true hero, He did not want hero status simply
because of His suffering. Wow!
Beth Ann travelled
from Indiana to El Paso because she had seen my deliverance ministry on
national television. She had several deliverance ministers pray for her
without success. She thought she would give me a try.
In my office, Beth
Ann began to describe her terrible suffering. She had been sexually abused
as a child. She had been mistreated by several husbands. Her children no
longer wanted anything to do with her. Even several pastors told Beth Ann to
leave their churches. No one was able to help her, so she said, “You are my
last resort. If you can’t help me, no one can.”
As I looked at
her, a revelation came to me, “Beth Ann, do you take any responsibility for
your failed marriages, for the loss of contact with your children and with
your excommunication from these pastors?”
Beth Ann looked
confused. “What do you mean? These people did me wrong. Can’t you see how
terrible these people have been to me?”
“Sister, you do
not really want to be free, because if you did, you could no longer brag
about how terrible your child-hood was or how bad your ex-husbands were or
how nasty your children have been to you or how unfair the pastors have
treated you. If you got free you can no longer complain for the rest of your
life.” I looked carefully into her eyes, “And you do not really want to be
freed from your suffering because you love to tell others about your
suffering. I will not be a feather in your cap as proof that no one can
drive out demons from you.”
The sister left
disappointed, but she now has a new story of oppression to tell.
You see this is
the problem with so many. They see themselves as heroes in the face of
suffering, but not Jesus.
I see this problem
with ministers. They often brag how faithful they are to the true message of
the gospel. They complain about the pillow-preachers who tickle people’s
ears. They tell of their ever shrinking congregation, “We may not be growing
like these mega-churches because we choose to preach the uncompromising
gospel while these false teachers are preaching a worldly message to grow
their churches.” They see their decreasing size as “proof” of God’s favor on
them. They brag on their suffering churches.
They do offer hope
that one day God will turn things around and give them a great revival, but
they hinder this by seeing their small number as proof they are the chosen
remnant. They contradict what they want to have. They love Friday too much
to really experience Sunday.
Not only do I see
this problem with ministers, this is especially apparent with couples. A
person believes they suffer greatly being married to this man. They tell
their entire sisters in Christ how awful their husband has been to them.
They complain about all they have had to go through. They don’t want a
divorce because that would end their suffering. They prefer to stay in the
marriage till the bitter end. They see themselves as heroes. “Look at the
man I have to put up with!” Yet they offer an optimist end, “But I am
waiting for God to save him.” They will continue to wait, because they enjoy
the suffering of Friday too much to have it end on Sunday.
3. “Father, forgive them, they
do not know what they do.”
No animosity toward the
thieves on the cross. No hatred toward the soldiers doing their duty. No
meanness toward the crowd in frenzy. I believe Christ words of forgiveness
even reaches into the palace of Pilate. It even makes its way into the
Sanhedrin where Jesus forgives the scribes and Pharisees.
expect Sunday to come if you hold on to bitterness. If you do not
forgive everyone who you think has harmed you, how can you claim to suffer
with Christ if you do not forgive like Christ forgave on the cross?
Jesus made sure
there was no reason for Him not to qualify for the resurrection. He did not
want to be disqualified simply because He held onto unforgiveness.
“Oh, pastor, it is
so hard to forgive!”
Yes, but you have
been born again and have been given the love nature of the Father. You can
forgive; it is in your nature to forgive.
“But pastor the
people are not sorry for what they have done to me.”
Yes, but Jesus
forgave without waiting for them to repent. He did not say to the crowd,
“Are you really sorry for yelling ‘Crucify him’? If so I will forgive you.”
He did not require the soldiers to repent before He forgave them. He forgave
without waiting for them to change.
There was a holy
man of God sitting next to a river. He noticed a scorpion stuck in the root
system. The river began to quickly rise. To save the scorpion from drowning,
the holy man reached out his hand to pull the scorpion to safety, but as he
did, the scorpion tried to strike him. He pulled back. He tried again to
pull the scorpion out of the roots, but again, the scorpion tried to strike
him. He attempted once again to save the scorpion and still the little pest
A man noticed the
righteous man’s attempt to save the scorpion. He told the saintly man, “Sir,
do you not know it is the nature of the scorpion to sting?”
The man answered
back, “Yes, but it is my nature to love, and shall I change my nature
because the scorpion does not change his?”
This is what
Christ did. His nature was to love and forgive and He did not wait for
everyone to change their nature before He acted on His own glorious nature.
You do the same. As you follow Christ example in suffering, you will
experience His glorious resurrection power.
It is not my intent to downplay the importance of the
resurrection of Christ. This is the greatest historical event in human
Click here for my views as to
the actual day of Christ death.
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