A Crucified Life Leads to a Resurrected Life
by Tom Brown
There was 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.
Since this message I saw the resurrection differently. No longer was the resurrection just an historical event that happened to Christ 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.
However, I 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?
Do they 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 Death
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.
I thought 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.
“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.”
A couple 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.
“Do not weep for me.”
Self pity 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.
“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.
You cannot 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 struck back.
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.
1 It is not my intent to downplay the importance of the resurrection of Christ. This is the greatest historical event in human history.
2 Click here for my views as to the actual day of Christ death.
Articles by Category
Favor: The Path to Prosperity
Meditate for Success
Mountain Moving Faith
Power of Partnership
Who do you think you are?
The Church Growth Conference Jesus Taught, Pt 3 Be Prepared for Resistance
In Alphabetical Order
Can Christians Lose their Salvation?
Favor: The Path to Prosperity
Former Mayor takes money from widows and orphans
Government, reclaiming it
Job and Suffering
Meditate for Success
Mountain Moving Faith
Obstacles: Get Rid of Your Obstacles
Ordination: Why I got Ordained as a Bishop
Power of Partnership
Praise, There's power in it
Self Esteem: Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?