After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on several occasions and left them with some final instructions before ascending to His Father in heaven. His directives were mostly forward-looking and vision-casting regarding the Great Commission that lay before them. But the cross was such a huge event that Jesus took time in His visits with the disciples to look back and debrief with them about it.
Here’s what He said to them about His cross:
Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day (Luke 24:46).
His message was very clear—His sufferings were necessary.
Consider for a moment what He didn’t say about the cross. He didn’t say, “That was the greatest injustice of human history—it should have never happened!” True, it was the greatest injustice of human history, but yet it had to happen.
Jesus didn’t say, “Pilate really blew that one! His wife warned him, but the man wouldn’t listen. And the chief priests? They’re going to regret that one big time! Just wait till Judgment Day and see how they fare.” He didn’t talk about the way the leaders sinned against Him.
Jesus didn’t say, “The devil really came after Me. He raged against Me and tried to take Me out. And just when his attack was the most fierce, all you guys abandoned Me. Where were you at crunch time? You said you were willing to die with Me, but then, when I needed you most, you disappeared.” No, Jesus didn’t talk about Satan’s agenda at the cross—even though Satan clearly had one. Nor did He speak of His disciples’ failures.
Here’s what Jesus was saying:
“I had to do the cross—to fulfill Scripture.”
“I had to do the cross—to complete all righteousness.”
“I had to do the cross—to destroy the devil.”
“I had to do the cross—to overcome sin, hell, and the grave.”
“I had to do the cross—to purchase your redemption.”
“I had to do the cross—to heal your infirmities.”
“I had to do the cross—to become a faithful High Priest.”
“I had to do the cross—to earn My stripes as the Captain of your salvation.”
In light of God’s eternal plan to redeem humanity, Jesus was saying that the cross was necessary.
Peter Used the Same Word
When Peter wrote about fiery trials in his first epistle, he also used the same Greek word for necessary.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6-7).
A literal rendering of the phrase, if need be would read if being necessary. Peter was literally saying, “Sometimes our fiery trials are necessary.”
By using the same word Jesus used to describe His sufferings, Peter was drawing a straight line between the cross and our fiery trials. He was indicating that our sufferings in our fiery trials are directly connected to Jesus’ sufferings on the cross. Peter was inferring, just as it was necessary for Jesus to suffer on the cross, sometimes it’s also necessary for us to suffer fiery trials.
Just as the cross was a fiery trial that tested Jesus’ faith, your point of suffering is a fiery trial that is testing your faith.
Some people will likely look at your difficulty and say to you, “This isn’t right. This should have never happened to you.” But from God’s perspective, it’s the trial that’s making you who you are. It’s producing in you more fruit to God than ever. It’s revealing God’s redemption in your family. It’s giving God room to write a great story with your life.
Your trial is your certification (1 Pet 1:6-7). The way you walk through it demonstrates to heaven and earth that your faith is authentic.
Peter said the faith we obtain in fiery trials is much more precious than gold that perishes (1 Pet 1:7). It’s incorruptible (1 Pet 1:4). How can we gain a faith that’s so much more valuable and priceless than gold? There’s really only one way—through fiery trials.
To gain faith this precious, sometimes we need trials in our lives.
This post is adapted from chapter two in Bob’s book, SOMETIMES WE NEED TRIALS. For more information on that book, go here.