Suffering happens. It happens to all of us. However, it is in the suffering that we draw near to God and understand Jesus own sufferings. Jesus didn’t come into the world as an insurance salesman offering safety and security from suffering, but he shows us instead how to suffer well. While in the classroom of suffering we have a lot to learn.
See and study the suffering of Christ
‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey” – 1 Peter 3:18-20a, ESV
Jesus suffered once—for sins. When Jesus suffered once, it didn’t mean that he only suffered onetime in life, but that his suffering was unrepeatable. In other words, his sacrifice for sin was only needed once. What is interesting is that Jesus didn’t suffer for his own sins. He didn’t sin or bring suffering upon himself as a consequence of his sin. He was righteous and perfect, and died for the unrighteous and sinful. His suffering was undeserved. Rather Jesus is the hero and example.
See and study the suffering of Noah
“when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.” – 1 Peter 3:20b
Like Jesus, Noah was rejected by people. For 120 years, he built an enormous boat believing God would send rain even though he lived in the desert. Could you imagine the ridicule? The flood eventual came and only Noah and his family were saved.
When you express faith in Jesus coming to save people from their sins, you express a faith many think is unfounded, foolish and farfetched. So if you are rejected by others for following Jesus, you’re in good company.
See and study your baptism
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:21
Baptism itself is a symbol. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from death to cleanse us from our sins. The symbol of baptism is your salvation. Through baptism one shows their belief in Jesus that he cleanses them from sin like water cleanses one from dirt. And since Jesus resurrected from the grave this guarantees that those who believe in him will one day be free from all suffering as Noah was safe in the ark.
See Christ as your victor
“[Jesus] who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” 1 Peter 3:22
In order to ace the exam of suffering we need Jesus. It is impossible to pass tough times or survive without him. Jesus suffered greatly and he was victorious over evil. Today, Jesus is seated in heaven at God’s right hand. Everything is subject to him and nothing can thwart his power.
By remembering these lessons and learning them well you will be able to bear under the brunt of the suffering. When you suffer with Christ you are not suffering alone. The Master suffered for his students too.
Questions for Reflection:
- How is Jesus the greatest hero of all time?
- What was the result of the suffering of Jesus?
- What does it mean to be ‘put to death in the flesh’ and ‘made alive in the Spirit’? What does this look like in your life?
- What is the connection between the Noah story and baptism? How is baptism connected to Christ’s suffering? (See Romans 6:2-4) How does baptism remind you of Jesus? Does baptism make you a Christian? How does Jesus cleanse you from sin?
- How have you faced ridicule or reject for your faith like Noah?
- What does it mean that Jesus is at the ‘right hand’ of God? Who and what is subject to Jesus? What are the implications of this? How does your life reflect the fact that Jesus is on his throne? What other things compete for the throne in your life?
- How does the resurrection give you hope in the face of suffering? How does the victory of Jesus encourage your faith?
- How does verse 22 inspire you to worship God?