The Passion of Christ … Knowing The Fellowship Of His Sufferings

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, Philippians 3:10

Many, many years ago, Pastor Rev. Charles G. Adams asked me what did the writer mean when he wrote about sharing in Christ’s suffering.  It was not a test, it was a subject of deep contemplative thought.  This Lenten season, desiring to intently listen to God, the Holy Spirit brought Pastor Adam’s question to my remembrance. 

While reflecting upon the suffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, thoughts arose of what the individuals around the cross of Christ’s crucifixion may have been thinking.  Did the fear of events, the agony of His suffering leave them wondering what would happen next in life? Would they leave discouraged, hide, lose faith, abandon everything? Would they ever go back again? Or did they think Here I am grateful for my life at this moment? After all were they any different than most of us at some point in life? Of course, it was different! They were in the moment. Even so, more than two thousand years later, as we think upon the passion of Christ His suffering is unescapably vivid and intensely painful. Still the Apostle Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…”. In this passage the term suffering is translated from the Greek word páthēma.Strongs Gk. 3804 Although it does relay an element of suffering, Paul writing this letter from prison, selected this word to express that he wanted the capacity and privilege of experiencing strong feelings, deep emotions, passionate love, ardent, enthusiastic and fervent desire. 

Paul desperately wanted the Spirit of wisdom and revelation Eph1:17 in order to deeply know Christ. This writing was to inspire the Philippians and us, to also experience a continual passionate faith and fervent desire to truly know Christ. This passion was in the thief who also being crucified, must have thought Here I am grateful for my life at this moment. When the eyes of his heart were opened, he envisioned himself as part of the Kingdom of God.  Paul wanted his readers, even now, to see ourselves in ways we have never seen before. His desire to know Christ cuddles the redemptive passion foundational to what we believe. There is a lesson in the passionate one on one conversation between the Lord and the thief who cried “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom…”.Lk 23:42 We should all have a desperate desire to fully live as part of the Kingdom of God until our last breath.  

The Apostle Paul wanted to grasp the infinite power of God who gives us all things that pertains to life and godliness.2 Peter 1:3 His desire to know the power of God that resurrected Christ, is transforming to the lives of believers. Paul desperately wanted to experience what the Lord spoke of from the cross to John and Mary. These words convey capacity to love like Jesus; deeply no matter what we are going through. He passionately wanted to unconditionally love without limits, even when we have experienced unbearable loss, disappointment and pain. Sharing the fellowship is the power of God in action, working within us and those we reach out to.Phil 2:13 Paul wanted to strongly feel and experience a deep emotional, fervent passionate desire to love and forgive. He wanted to share in the words “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Lk. 23:34

The answer to Jesus’ question to the disciples “Who do you say I am?” Mk 8:27 is hinged to the power of God that raised Jesus from the grave. Paul desired to know this and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.  Páthēma,Paul’s term for suffering, is a deep desire for the passion of Christ engrafted in the of his core being. This has everything to do with who we are and how we live. It has everything to do with our principles, beliefs, decisions, attitude, behavior, activities, choices, relationships, priorities and so on. My sisters and brothers pray fervently ”…to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death.” Philippians 3:10 Surrender all to God.


Rev. Von Crigler

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