That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
I. THERE ARE SENSES IN WHICH WE CAN HAVE NO COMMUNITY WITH OUR LORD IN HIS SUFFERINGS.
1. They were distinct in kind from ours.
(1) They were meritorious, whereas we cam never have any merit in God's sight.
(2) Voluntary, whereas all ours are deserved being entailed by sin.
2. They were distinct in degree.
(1) In all their bitterness they were foreseen, whereas ours are hidden, and come in drops only.
(2) In absolute magnitude. He bore the whole burden of human suffering. Our sympathies are mighty, but the facts on which they are founded, and the persons they concern, are limited.
(3) In capacity for suffering He surpassed us. It is a token of God's mercy as well as our infirmity that we are benumbed by pain. The crash which lights on a man and maims him, leaves him feeling for a moment unhurt. And so with great mental suffering. Often in the course of mighty calamities the chief sufferer endures less than those who pity him. But when in the depth of the valley of humiliation Christ was ever awake to each particular of His great load of woe, and when they offered Him the stupefying potion He put it from Him.
(4) In the matter and form and nature of His suffering He surpassed us. What was it that wrung that "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." Was it the mere prospect of pain and shame? Can we suppose that that courage which has often borne on the sons of men to torture and ignominy, foreseen and chosen, was not present in Him? No. Death had a sting, but it was not pain, nor shame; it was sin.
II. BUT HERE WE TOUCH A POINT WHERE WE MAY ENTER INTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS. If He became sin for us we are the sinners. Imputed guilt crushed Him; shall actual guilt bring to us. no similar suffering? Of this the natural man knows nothing. Terror on account of sin may throw over his soul its dark shadow, but this is not fellowship with Christ's sufferings.
1. Whence, then, does this fellowship date? When first the Holy Spirit convinces of the hatefulness of sin.
2. This fellowship is an acquirement worthy of our highest ambition. We may avoid it, and live as we think a far more comfortable life. Shall we with the dread of death ever before us? Is it not worth while to get rid of this with all its grievous bondage?
3. The Christian should need no such argument, for the very purpose of his existence is to be conformed to Christ, but this he cannot be without the fellowship of His sufferings. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect through them; so must we be.
Parallel VersesKJV: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;