All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:10-11 (CEV)

A crowd of people gathered around a man on a hillside. Excitement fills their eyes and hearts as he teaches. Some have been following him for months. Others have just recently joined the euphoria. Then something he says causes a stir. Expressions of joy fall to concern, some even anger. One by one they leave. Some murmur. Some shake their heads in disgust. Starting in the from the front first and working its way back, the movement begins until just a dozen or so are left. The teacher looks at the remnant and asks, “Will you stop following me too?”

A small room quietly hidden in the streets of Jerusalem. Flickering candles give the only light. The once celebratory atmosphere has left as the teacher begins to tell of his impending doom. One student interrupts him mid-sentence. “I will never leave you! You can count on me to be by your side regardless of what others say or do!” The others nod in agreement until the teacher looks the student in the eye and says “No! No you won’t. You’ll leave me like the others.”

We say we want to know him more. But do we? As one writer states, “Many are willing to reign with Christ, but they would not be willing to suffer with him; many would be willing to wear a crown of glory like him, but not the crown of thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendor which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery.”

To know Jesus deeper involves the risk that we may endure the fellowship of suffering. Peter pledged allegiance—but denied him; the people followed him—but left when his teaching turned to suffering not victory; many today have settled for religion based on rules and feelings, rather than a relationship with the King of Kings.

If you want to wear the robes of glory, you must first bear the scars of earth-life; if you want to experience victory you must pass through the grave, for in death is victory and in suffering comes esteem in God’s eyes and that’s all the really counts.

To know Jesus more is much more than intellectual knowledge, it is experiential and it takes time. Book smarts is knowledge; experience is wisdom. Knowledge without experience is futile for wisdom gives knowledge its power.

Do you want to gain victory? Then use all that is within you to grow in him, without fear, without reservation. For in knowing him in his death and resurrection we receive power and life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’ve read this verse many times but today I am aware of my own fears and reservations to totally sell out to you even though I know that is best. Empower me to grow deeper in you. Amen.