In Suffering: According to the Pattern, we saw that Calvary is the pattern. And if we are God’s child He will deal with us according to the pattern.
“That is the strange lesson we all have to learn, and Calvary is the pattern of it from beginning to end. God’s victories look like defeats. It is victory in the unseen realm while one is apparently, absolutely down and out in the visible.” Prayer and Evangelism, Jessie Penn-Lewis (emphasis mine).
Therefore if Calvary is the pattern, then we know that the pattern is of suffering because we know that Christ our Lord and
Saviour suffered. Conversely we also know that if the pattern is of Calvary, then the pattern is also of victory because we know that through suffering our Lord was greatly victorious.
If we are the disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will too be greatly victorious in Him. However, it is through suffering that the victory will be won. This was true of Paul, of Peter and of all the apostles. And it is true of us too.
“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Luke 6:40
We know the story of Peter denying Christ thrice. We know that Jesus, in His mercy, sought Peter out after the resurrection and restored him. The interesting thing is that once Jesus had restored Peter, He prophesied over him. Jesus foretold to Peter the actual pinnacle of his life for God – the very event that would bring the greatest glory to God.
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ prophesy excluded the fact that Peter was to be always happy, healthy and eventually own his own private jet. Why is that? Surely that would bring God the most glory! No, rather, what Jesus told Peter was something according to the pattern:
“’Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish’. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”” John 21:18, 19 (emphasis mine)
Peter was to glorify God by being crucified!
How could this bring glory to God? This really goes against the grain of our own thinking….
But remember: God’s victories look like defeats.
Consider for a moment this man, Peter. He had fearfully denied Jesus over and over again in order to preserve his own life and avoid the agony and humiliation of the cross. Could it be possible that this man would one day be so given to Christ, so full of the Holy Spirit that the fear of pain and death, the fear of the loss of his reputation would be so victoriously overcome that he would eventually take up his cross and follow Christ?
Jesus knew that the one thing Peter wished to avoid the most was the very thing that would bring God the most glory!
You see, Self is always trying to preserve Self (ie. Self-preservation). Self, or the “flesh”, cries out for comfort, for ease, for safety, to be liked and accepted. Feed me! Please me! Preserve me above all else! It is only when the power of the flesh has been broken that it is able to come under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately the flesh in man is strong. So strong that it usually takes the rod of suffering to break its strength throughout a lifetime.
The flesh was also strong in Peter. He was, of course, no different from the rest of us, and yet this man was eventually crucified for the glory of God. What happened in-between his restoration by Christ and his death that effected this transformation? The answer is : the Holy Spirit.
It is “…Christ in you the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27 (emphasis mine).
It is God’s ultimate purpose to conform us to the image of His Son. It is God’s will to work His Son in us by His Spirit. Contrary to what we may imagine, God isn’t a dispensary, dishing out to our flesh an ounce of love, a pound of patience etc in order to improve it. This would be futile. Why? Because judgment has been pronounced on the flesh and now it must die. Our only hope is God coming to live in us by the power of His Spirit. God doesn’t give us more love and more patience, but what He does is work in us His very Son. Christ’s nature is loving, truthful, patient and kind and so the more of Christ that has been worked in us, the more His nature will naturally shine through us. In order for this to be able to happen the flesh will have to be crucified. And that’s always going to be painful.
God’s victories look like defeats.
We think of victory as our lives always being smooth and easy. We believe when we are happy and healthy we are being blessed and when we are sad or sick, we are not so blessed. Perhaps we have done something wrong? But God’s perspective is totally different. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts.
Key Point: If God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son, then whatever happens in our lives to achieve that end is victory.
Be encouraged that God has a much greater purpose than we can see at this time. What you and I are currently facing is intended to bring death to Self in order to allow the Spirit of life to work in us. If we yield to His hand He will bring forth a great victory in us and through us. And God will be glorified.
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