That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS A CHRISTIAN MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH THE SUFFERINGS OF HIS MASTER.
1. By comprehending their character, objects, and results.
(1) Those who think of them as chiefly corporeal, or proceeding from the treatment of men, or from natural causes, cannot share this fellowship. The body was tortured, but "my soul is troubled." There was no cross in the garden; nor does the prospect of suffering explain the agony there; nor the endurance His cry. "God hath put Him to grief," and those who regard His sorrows as those of a martyr can have no fellowship with Him who was "wounded for our transgressions."(2) They who limit the effect of these sufferings to their moral influence can have no fellowship with Him. it is true that Christ has set all mourners an example; but "He also offered Himself without spot." God setting him forth as a propitiation is something distinct from setting us an example.
(3) But the belief of this is not everything, notwithstanding what doctrinal Pharisees may say. The devils have it but are not better for it, and a man may be sound in his ideas about these things without caring an atom for them.
2. By faith in them as real and efficacious, and by appropriating their fruits to ourselves. When I feel and know that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from sin I have the highest kind of this fellowship. I may not know all that God has revealed about the blood of Jesus, nor be able to satisfy a theologian, but just as I know that the sun gives me light, and food nourishment, so I may know that Christ's blood takes away sin.
3. By suffering as far as possible in His Spirit. There were sorrows into which we cannot follow Him, and His Spirit was so perfect that our imitation must be very imperfect. But we have fellowship thus:(1) The lowly born and despised disciple may have fellowship with the sufferings of Him whom sinners contemned because He was the carpenter's son.
(2) The poor may have fellowship with Him who had not where to lay His head.
(3) The hidden disciple, called to stand and wait, may have fellowship with Him who lived, with but one exception, in the seclusion of Nazareth for thirty years.
(4) The tempted likewise.
(5) The despised.
(6) The forsaken.
(7) The agonized; and
(8) The dying.
II. WHEREFORE IS THIS FELLOWSHIP DESIRABLE?
1. Our enjoyment of the everlasting benefits of Christ's sufferings is dependent on this fellowship.
2. It assists our comprehension of Christ's love.
3. We learn to value more highly what has been secured by Christ's suffering.
4. It tends to relieve the burden of our sorrows.
5. It extinguishes our love for the world.
III. HOW MAY I ATTAIN IT? Like Paul, you must count all things loss. Such knowledge requires much sacrifice.
1. If you pride yourself on your family you can have no fellowship with Him who endured contempt as the carpenter's son.
2. If your great aim is to be wealthy you can have no fellowship with the sufferings of Christ in His poverty.
3. If your object is applause, what communion can there be between you and "the despised and rejected of men"?
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;