The Fellowship of His Sufferings

Fellowship Suffering

Sunday 04/05/20

Palm Sunday 2020

Message – The Fellowship of His Sufferings

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The Fellowship of His Sufferings

This week we are talking about, The Fellowship of His Sufferings.

[NOTE: For those who believe the Father did NOT forsake Jesus on the cross, please at least consider these proofs that He did in our article – My God, My God…you have forsaken Me?]

You know VALUE is something which is both intrinsic or actual and assigned based upon it’s evaluated usefulness…and everything’s assigned value is calculated differently.

Gold for example. Gold  has a very literal and intrinsic value based upon its usefulness and its availability. Its assigned value, such as its market value, however fluctuates. This is ONLY true because man has limited knowledge. If man knew with absolute knowledge the exact amount of gold available to the human race and knew with absolute knowledge all that it was useful for, then we could calculate its REAL and intrinsic value. But our limited knowledge also limits our ability to assign true value to things.

You know this week is Palm Sunday and so it’s appropriate that we have been talking about identifying with Jesus in His humanity and His sufferings.

To do this, last week the Lord had me wrestling with some concepts which were difficult and unsettling.

Completely without Palm Sunday or Easter in view, I was just personally mulling around in my mind what it was that made Jesus so utterly unwilling to give into sin. What made Him so much different than me? In order for this line of thinking to be of any real use I had to admit and limit my understanding of Jesus to that of being 100% human. His struggle was my struggle and mine His. But how could that be? I mean I know the Hebrews 4 says He was tempted in every way as we are – yet without sin, but it’s hard to imagine my temptations being truly tempting to Him.

So I went to the wilderness examples of stones to bread, and falling to have the angel’s catch Him and bowing down to satan to obtain the kingdoms of this world…and I thought, those probably had “some” pull, but not a lot.

  • Stones to bread – appealed to His flesh.
  • Falling and catching – appealed to His love of experiencing the love & protection of the Father
  • The kingdoms of this world – was what He’d come to obtain.

But they were all pretty full of wholes!

So I thought, what temptation really ever hit Him like it hits me? That’s when I turned to the garden and that is where we will spend a little more time today in order to do as Hebrews tells us and consider Him lest we become weary and faint under suffering.

So to do that let’s begin by turning to Isaiah 53 in order to set the pace for this line of considering Jesus – lest we faint.

Isaiah 53:10-12, “(10) Yet it pleased the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.  (11) He shall see the grievous effort – the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He will bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”

Last week I taught on the Suffering we MUST endure if we are to be glorified with Jesus by HIS nature being formed in us. 

Hebrews 12:1-4 which I’ve already referenced this morning says,

“(1) Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us,  (2) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.  (4) In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

In order to begin to understand this we had to look at Jesus in His humanity as our example. I titled it, “Suffering…Who for the Joy

In that message I attempted to show you the depth of Jesus’ heart in the worst temptation He ever suffered and HOW He overcame the evil influence to disobey God, by means of and because of His intense love for the Father…a love that compelled Jesus to pursue the will of the Father – regardless of the cost!

If you remember, Christ being formed in you is such a tremendous prize that Paul said any suffering we do in this life is not even worthy of being compared with it.

So, Christ IN HIS HUMANITY,  is set before us as the One we must consider IF we are to press on & not lose heart in our obtaining of the prize of Christ in us!

Jesus cried out to the Father, “If there is ANY OTHER WAY, let this cup pass from Me. Never the less, not My will but Your will be accomplished!”

We learned that the thing Jesus wanted to avoid was NOT the cross itself, but the separation from the Father that would be the result of not just taking ON the sins of the whole world but becoming Sin FOR US!

The crushing blow of separation from God

Jesus’ joy set before Him was to fulfill the will of the Father and it was His intimate knowledge of the Father and His God that made that such a prize to Him.

We discovered that it was Jesus’ value of God that made His suffering possible. In fact, it is Jesus’ value of God that created the context of His great love for Him in the first place.

Quite UNLIKE gold, relational value is often increased by its availability rather than its scarcity. 

Jesus, in His humanity was completely aware of the usefulness and availability of God and therefore He drew from and drank deeply from that well exclusively! 

His value of God was such that He loved what He loved. He drew pleasure from what delights Him. So whenever a temptation arose which suggested pleasure in something which caused God the Father DIS-pleasure – He evaluated this object of His temptation accurately. He desired it LESS than He desired God.

The indelible mark this line of thinking had upon Christ’s soul was what kept Him during His times of trial in the garden and on the cross.

Let me paint a picture for you of the inner struggle Jesus faced in the garden. It was UNLIKE ANY temptation any human HAD or ever will endure, because in order to obey God, Jesus had to agree to be separated from God. No other human will ever be faced with that decision!

Jesus had since His youth cultivated a relationship with the Father through the Spirit of knowing, loving & trusting. We know that God the Father did not hold anything back from Christ, because Christ loved and obeyed Him completely. 

Psalms 84:11  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.”

So we can imagine that Jesus’ knowledge of, intimacy and connection with the Father was something legends are made of. And that was just on earth – in reality Jesus had NEVER KNOWN a moment of separation from the Father…and now with the vulnerability of being a human who was fully dependent upon Him – The Father in a very literal way WAS Jesus’ life!

This interplay of deep, calling to deep between the Father and the Son is something we can only begin to capture a flickering glimpse of in our minds. 

Jesus was CONVINCED of the love of the Father! 

He KNEW He was valued and adored by Him. But there in the Garden, Jesus was being faced with something new! Something that seemed completely incompatible with that Love. The Father was asking Jesus to submit to separation! 

The wrestling Jesus had to do was to somehow reconcile His deep knowledge that He was infinitely Loved by the Father and deeply cherished by His God and yet at the same time this same God and Father Who He KNEW with absolute knowledge and experience LOVED Him – also wanted to crush Him and be separated from Him to wound His soul and pour it out as an oblation – an offering for sin. This crushed Jesus! Humanly it was too much to cope with.

We get a glimpse of the realities Jesus was having to grapple with in Isaiah 53, which Jesus knew was written about Him.

The only imagery I could conjure when contemplating these truths – which could even begin to capture what Jesus was having to reconcile – is something we’ve all seen in certain movies or tv shows and even at that it is a pitiful comparison and is naturally flawed. I ONLY use it to illustrate something we cannot illustrate – to try to bring into focus something which we can only wrestle with once we have the basic concept in our minds.

The scenario I am talking about is one where a relationship is built up to larger than life proportions throughout a show. I mean, these two are like a hand in a glove, a person and their shadow – they are inseparable, close, and hopelessly adoring of one another. Then at some point in the show a situation arises where the a parent with the child or (to a far lesser degree) the master with a dog, has to send them away in order to save them. 

The child or the animal don’t understand why they are being told to go away. To them, distance from this person and safety CANNOT be compatible! Try as they might, the person tries to get them to leave and they just don’t understand. So the parent… or owner begins to shout at them…telling them to “Go away…I don’t love you anymore…get out of here!” You can see the dejection in their eyes and the brokenness of their hearts as they shyly walk away, every now and then stealing a glance over their shoulder…just knowing this is some kind of terrible game – it can’t be real…they love me, I know they love me! Has everything I’ve ever known about them been wrong? I KNOW they love me…why are they saying that?

A few movies I searched for that appeared to have scenes like that were Air Bud, Dances with Wolves, Harry and the Hendersons, Pete’s Dragon…etc. though I actually never saw any of those but Dances with Wolves.

Now, like I said, that is SUCH a flawed analogy that it would border on blasphemous if it were not for the redemptive purposes I’m using it for. Jesus WAS 100% Human! 

The Father was telling Him that in order to redeem mankind He had to pour out on Him the sins of the whole world and that in doing so He would, for a time, no longer have open koinonia with Him – no relational interaction or shared experience – that the Father would in fact forsake the Son for a time during His most vulnerable hour. That all that had been light and life to Jesus was going to be cut off! He was going to descend into total blackness in a state of being totally separated from His God – it was worse than blindness! This is what crushed Christ and yet His deep love and commitment to the Father which sprang out of His known value of Him, compelled Him to be the sacrifice even though it would serve to separate Him from the Father for a time. 

It was a suffering like none other! 

Like the song we sang this morning “You are Faithful God”, by Chris Tomlin. It said, You are there in every season of the soul – and yet, here He would not be and it was not due to any unrighteousness of His own. This was an impossible thing to reconcile so He had to simply take it on trust!

Many of us have experienced emotional bruising – and it is MANY times more painful than physical bruising and it takes many years to overcome the sting and the emotional throbbing numbness that accompanies those memories. 

The words “throbbing numbness” only makes sense to those who have experienced it. It is devastation itself! 

It is like what happens to a person’s consciousness and hearing if they are in close proximity to an explosion. It leaves you numb but reeling, dazed but perhaps more fully aware and present than you have ever been, isolated in silence WHILE your ears are ringing…it is FILLEd with contradictory experiences which are hard to reconcile because they usually cannot co-exist – so when they do, we have no context into which we can place it.

This is where Jesus was in His wrestling in the Garden.

Jesus found His value, His contentment, His identity, His soul satisfaction in the Father and that He was always with Him. You can see it in the words He spoke to His closest friends – who He loved, but did not depend on.

John 16:26-33, “(26) In that day you will ask in My name. I am not telling you that I will make requests to the Father on your behalf. (27)  For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. (28) I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (29)  “Ah!” His disciples said. “Now You’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language.  (30) Now we know that You know everything and don’t need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.”  (31) Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe? (32)  Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (33)  I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

As a human, Jesus’ dependence upon the Father for His sense of self, and well-being was absolute. As a human Jesus did not know everything…and here, in the garden, He was being told that the way to please His Father was to let Himself be separated from Him. That in order to do the will of His God & Father, He must be forsaken by Him. That the Father was telling Him, “Even though I love you, what will please My heart is to crush yours!” 

I cannot even begin to imagine the inner conflict! 

We know it was there and only with our sanctified and enlightened minds can we even begin to allow ourselves to see it, to understand it, to embrace it and in it understand what true suffering is. 

Jesus’ inner turmoil, the desperate crushing of His soul caused Him to sweat blood!

It is in this context we are told to consider Him – so you do not faint in your souls – consider the crushing of His in order to accomplish the will of God. You have not suffered to the point of that kind of bloodshed striving to honor God with all your being!

Let’s read the whole chapter in Isaiah 53 

“(1) Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?  (2) For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  (3) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (4) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  (7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.  (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11)  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

All of this was a reference back to Leviticus 5 & 16 the offerings for sin and guilt & the scapegoat having the sins of the whole nations laid upon its head.

Spurgeon says this about verse 10 – “When you make His soul an offering for sin” 

“…it was this – the becoming of the sin-sacrifice – more than the physical suffering that Jesus dreaded. “My Lord suffered as you suffer, only more keenly; for He had never injured His body or soul by any act of excess, so as to take off the edge from His sensitiveness. His was the pouring out of a whole soul in all the phases of suffering into which perfect souls can pass. He felt the horror of sin as we who have sinned could not feel it, and the sight of evil afflicted Him much more than it does the purest among us.” (Spurgeon)

Now, as I tie this together with our sufferings and how we see Paul doing with Christ what Christ did with the Father – I want you to know that I had to sit under scrutiny of myself and before God, wondering if I was making too much of this. Perhaps overly emotionalizing it (if I can use that word). That it was the value Christ saw in the Father that compelled and drove Him to suffer in obedience to God’s will. Then the Lord reminded me of what Paul said empowered him to endure all he suffered and what Peter said in reference to the same and the word VALUE came up again!

Philippians 3:7-21, “(7) But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.  (8) More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ  (9) and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ–the righteousness from God based on faith. (10) My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,  (11) assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. (12) Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. (13) Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,  (14) I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. (15) Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also. (16) In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. (17) Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. (18)  For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, (20) but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (21) He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.”

So while Jesus suffered as none of us will ever suffer – alone – separated from the Father BECAUSE of His obedience – We on the contrary suffer WITH Him out of our great love for Him which is a product of having our eyes opened to see His great and infinite value!

Let’s now close by reading Peter’s words…

1 Peter 2:1-25, “(1) So rid yourselves of all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.  (2) Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it in your salvation,  (3) since you have tasted that the Lord is good. (4) Coming to Him, a living stone–rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God–  (5) you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (6) For it stands in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and valuable cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! (7) So the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected–this One has become the cornerstone, and  (8) A stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that trips them up. They stumble by disobeying the message; they were destined for this. (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  (10) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (11) Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. (12) Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation.  (13) Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority, (14) or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (15) For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people. (16) As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. (17) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.  (18) Household slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. (19) For it brings favor if, because of conscience toward God, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. (20) For what credit is there if you endure when you sin and are beaten? But when you do good and suffer, if you endure, it brings favor with God. (21) For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps.  (22) He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; (23) when reviled, He did not revile in return; when suffering, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to the One who judges justly. (24) He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounding you have been healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!