Should Christ followers have a theology of glory or a theology of suffering? Horton makes the case that, according to the Bible, it should be the latter.
Jesus knew why he came. It was not to help people find a little more happiness and success in life. In fact, his life was filled with suffering, under the long shadow of Calvary. “For this purpose I have come,” he said, referring to the cross (Jn 12:27). “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). The disciples thought that the road to Jerusalem led to victory. Entering as conquerors at the side of the Messiah, they would drive out the Romans and usher in the everlasting reign of God. Each time he reminded them that he was going to Jerusalem to die on a cross and be raised on the third day, they either didn’t respond or (especially in Peter’s case) reprimanded Jesus for his “negative thinking” (Mk 8:31-38; 10:2-5; Mt 16:21-23). Ever since his temptation by Satan, Jesus had been offered glory without a cross, but it was a false promise, and that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter’s attempt to dissuade him from the cross by saying, “Get behind me, Satan. For your thoughts are the thoughts of men, not of God” (Mt 16:23). We can be grateful that Jesus embraced the cross and then entered his glory, instead of demanding glory first.
Paul regularly picks up on this theme. Familiar to suffering himself, Paul was always joyful not because of his circumstances but because of the gospel’s promise that after we suffer for a little while we will share in Christ’s resurrection glory. He warned the church of false teachers who deceive “by smooth talk and flattery.”
Christianity announces the good news that God in Christ has saved us now from the condemnation of the law, dethroned the tyranny of sin, and delivered us from Satan’s oppressive regime. But it gets even better: One day, this salvation will be consummated in the gift of resurrection, glorification, and everlasting life, free of the very presence of sin, pain, evil, and violence.