A Life of Suffering

Galatians 6:17, I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The season of Advent is the season leading up to Christmas when we remember the birth of Jesus Christ our King. It is a glorious day, but underneath it lies a somber tone, for we know the earthly fate of this King. Morbid philosophers express a daunting reality, “We are born to die.” We are born in this world only to die, they say, which can happen at any moment. Life is fleeting. And they’re right; we are born only to some day die. And so, life seems hopeless, even pointless. With this reality, life seems hopeless and pointless only without Christ. We are born only to die, but so was Christ. Christ was born so that He would die for you and me. Not only that, but He also conquered death in His death and resurrection. Christ was born to die, but He lived, died, and resurrected to defeat our enemy of death, sin, and the Devil. Therefore, Jesus says, whoever believes in Him will not see death—that is, eternal death (John 11:25-26)! By faith in Him we are made more than conquerors of death (Romans 8:37-39)!

What wonderful news! However, it will not be easy. A life of suffering awaits those who follow Christ, for the world that is full of sin hates Him and anyone having to do with Him. Just as Christ suffered, so we also share in His suffering, as the apostles remind us (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 4:13). Paul in the above text writes of this suffering he shared with Christ. He was tortured and eventually killed because of his Christian confession. Killing the Son of God was not enough for the world; they must also torture and kill His people. Some of us may be tortured and murdered for His name’s sake. Either way, we all must die. Our sinful flesh must be crucified with Christ in order to resurrect with Him (Romans 6:5-6), for “nothing unclean will ever enter [Heaven, the New Jerusalem]… but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

Christ was born to die—He lived, died, and resurrected to conquer our enemy, Death. In the same way, in Baptism we die to sin, live to Christ, and will be resurrected into the new life to come (Romans 6:3-11). He calls us by name and writes our names in His book of life, ready to read our names from the book at His glorious return.

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