When you think about suffering, what comes to mind? Do you envision bedraggled children with distended stomachs, a hospital patient hooked up to life-sustaining medical equipment, or a courageous veteran dealing with the aftermath of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Adversity seems to be a common denominator to human existence, but what does the Bible have to say about suffering?

Jesus spoke to His disciples about suffering. One of the most well-known verses reads, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV). The Greek word for cross in this verse is staurós. It refers to the crossbeam which the lowest criminals carried as they trudged toward their execution. The cross symbolized degradation and indescribable pain as well as sacrifice.

While the invitation to eternal life is free, it comes at a price–certain suffering.

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Christ commanded us to love one another even as . For us to know how to love each other we must understand the character of the rich deep love that Jesus Christ that Paul describes in Ephesians 3 as surpassing knowledge.

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I. His love is unmerited

A. 1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the .”

B. Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

C. What escapes definition is that even when we reject Him, we disobey Him, we sin against Him, . We call it ‘’, unmerited love from God to His rebellious creation.

D. God’s unmerited love is given to us, people who don’t deserve His love to transform and change us into new creations.

E. We are such undeserving beneficiaries of God’s . He reached down to us in our absolute total depravity and lifted us to Himself pouring out His grace to us.

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II. His love is unlimited

A. He, who loved us forgave us, doing so without limit.

1. Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

2. Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots.

B. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…

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III. His love is unselfish

A.

1. 1 Corinthians 13:5-6 Love “Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.”

2. Jesus is the perfect example of selflessness. Matthew 20:28 says, ‘Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.’

B.

• 2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

• John 10:10 ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it] more abundantly.

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