Every one of us is called to take up their cross every day as it says in Luke 9:23, “And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'” So what does that mean, to take up a cross? The cross represents suffering. Jesus’ power came from the suffering He did on the cross. Think of the examples we have given and other great Christians who have power from God who received it through suffering, through their own personal cross. There are people who became great Christians who would have done very little for God had they not had a cross of suffering to bear.
Philippians 3:10 says, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Many people who have suffered a great deal in life for a period of time seem to have an intimacy with Christ that other people strive for but never obtain. Again, I would like to use Joni Earickson Tada for an example. When she speaks, you can tell she has a special closeness with God that just lights up her face. It cannot be faked, and it cannot be forced. I believe this has come from many years experiencing the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Fellowship is a close union between friends. In this case, it would be a union that had suffering in common.
Yes, Christ did greatly suffer physically while He was on this earth. I don’t believe most people have an adequate conception of just how much He went through. Try to get a mental picture of the anguish He endured. He was beaten and whipped, but the whips they used at that time usually had some kind of hook mechanism on the end to actually rip the flesh as it was being pulled back from the strike. The thorns that pierced His head were about 2 inches long and were forcefully driven into His head. By the time he was taken to the cross, He had already lost a lot of blood and was very weak. Then nails were driven into His hands and feet to keep Him on the cross, but the hanging position this left His body in made it hard to breathe. In His weakened state, Christ had to push Himself up by his pierced feet to get a breath until He could take no more. Yes, Jesus went through horrible pain and agony. In fact, we see in Isaiah 52 verse 14 that “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” The Jesus statue you might see in a church with the tiny amount of blood trickling down from the crown of thorns, and the small wound in the side does not even begin to depict what Jesus’ body really looked like at his crucifixion.
The fellowship of His sufferings also pertains to spiritual suffering. Jesus also endured much spiritual pain when He was on the earth. The humans He loved rejected and hated Him. Satan tried to tempt Him at His weakest point. Even His disciples and friends sometimes doubted Him and betrayed Him. And worst of all, God the Father really did desert Jesus temporarily. He says in Matthew 27, verse 46, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” The answer could be, “So I wouldn’t have to forsake ______.” Fill your name in the blank. Because of that sacrifice, He will never forsake you.