Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” - Luke 24:26
Easter is one of the most celebrated events in the Christian community. The day commemorates the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While various secular traditions celebrate Easter, it is the central expression of the Christian faith. It was the Father’s will for Jesus to die on the cross for humanity’s sin. This undeniable truth is etched on the pages of the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus understood this. He knew his mission and his purpose. He also knew the suffering it would entail. Yet, he followed the path his Father set for him.
Jesus saw his suffering as a necessary part of the glory that awaited. Hebrews 12:2b puts it this way, “Who for the joy that was before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” The writer of Hebrews nestles this statement in the context of Hebrews 11, which lists the heroes of faith and describes the sufferings and hardships they endured on their journey. Although they did not see the earthly reward for their obedience, they all “died in faith,” looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises (v. 39). Similarly, Jesus knew that to return to his former glory, he had to fulfill the purpose for which he came to earth. In one of his final recorded prayers, he says, “ I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17: 4-5).
For Jesus, disobedience was not an option. Even as he faced those agonizing moments in Gethsemane, he placed obedience to the Father’s will above his own desires. He understood that suffering and glory are indelibly linked. They are each a part of God’s purpose. Each presents an opportunity to glorify God. As followers of Christ, we must look to his example. Others may not see things the way you do. They may not understand your urgency, call, or determination to face or even embrace your destiny. Like Jesus, we must endure suffering if we are to experience glory. If we are to reign with him, we must first suffer with him. The path is clearly defined. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matt. 16:24). Before he could receive his glory, Jesus had to endure everything that was written concerning him.
As we remember the empty tomb, may it remind us that the greatest victory in history was preceded by the greatest suffering imaginable. If Jesus had focused on the suffering only, he could have detoured from the path of obedience. Instead, he endured the suffering because of the joy he would experience when he returned to share the Father’s glory. Today, we remember the cross, the suffering, and the resurrection. More importantly, we look forward to the glory that is to come.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:18).