Seeing Differently through Jesus’ suffering and vulnerability

Dr Graham Joseph Hill helps us reflect on Holy Saturday and 1 Peter 4:1-11, exploring how Jesus' suffering helps us See Differently, with humility and vulnerability

Holy Saturday is the period between Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. It’s a period of darkness, struggle, uncertainty, and suffering. So much seems to have been lost, and the resurrection has not yet occurred. 

The Lent passage of 1 Peter 4:1–11 reminds us that this period of suffering, vulnerability, and uncertainty is an opportunity to see differently, with humility and character. 

“Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” (4:1). This period of struggle and suffering is an opportunity to submit to God, live holy lives, pursue prayer, love others deeply, and show hospitality. This moment is a chance to serve the church and world, speak truthfully, act courageously, embody mercy, serve in God’s strength, and do all things for the praise and glory of God (4:2–11).

When the church has failed to witness to Jesus and his Gospel well, the reason has almost always been pride, greed, division, grasping for power, and lack of character or integrity. Churches that imitate and glorify Jesus are humble, embracing, and vulnerable. They are known by who they include, not who they exclude. Christianity is radical because of who it embraces, not who it rejects. These churches seek to be the new humanity in Jesus Christ. They welcome all people, pursue love and unity in the Spirit and reject division, antagonism, and hostility.

We practice and reveal Holy Saturday’s character and humility through loving service. Humility isn’t an abstract or idealised love. It’s concrete and embodied and tangible love. It’s costly and self-sacrificing. Humility is putting our theology of the Cross into practice as we live cruciform lives. Humility is choosing to lower yourself for the sake of others. It’s choosing to humble yourself before the weak, the poor, the broken, the marginalised, the despised, the silenced, the oppressed, and all those Jesus loved, honoured, and died for. Only then can we say that we love as Jesus loved and that we are humble as Jesus was humble. Such humble, loving service is costly. You cannot practice loving-kindness without heartbreak and suffering and loss. Humility is much harder than pride and ego. But our eternal joy is more incredible. Humility and character live in the imitation of Jesus Christ, which is the message of Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday helps us see differently, reminding us that we follow a suffering and vulnerable Messiah, and we can know the power of God in our grief and vulnerability.

Sure, Jesus is mighty, glorious, victorious, and exalted. Still, he’s also the God who made himself weak, humble, pierced, crushed, and vulnerable.

We’re often tempted to minister out of strength and capacity and avoid opening ourselves up to ridicule, loss, or pain. But Jesus helps us see a different way. Jesus served among the poor and the powerful, among sinners and saints. Among the exalted and the marginalised, he served in meekness, openness, woundedness, and humility uniquely and consistently. But, as the disciples of Jesus have discovered through the ages, there’s power in vulnerability with others and submission to God. We see this in the lives of people who have decided to follow the way of Jesus, like Sojourner Truth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nelson Mandela, Catherine Booth, Harriet Tubman, Ajith Fernando, Jayakumar Christian, Aunty Jean Phillips, Rosa Parks, Amy Carmichael, and more. Jesus went with weakness and vulnerability to the poor, exploited, and marginalised and championed their freedom, dignity, and worth. 

Vulnerability is risky and dangerous. Making ourselves vulnerable to God, to others, and to the Gospel will cause us to suffer. It was true for Jesus, Paul, the apostles, and the early church—so why wouldn’t we suffer too?

To serve is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to suffer. 

But the message of Holy Saturday is that when we choose vulnerability with others, embrace the suffering of Jesus, and imitate the humility of Christ; we find that our witness to the Gospel is not just enhanced; it’s magnified beyond what we might ever have dreamed or imagined. 

Being vulnerable opens us up to love, divine and human. In suffering and vulnerability, we learn humility and character.

Holy Saturday encourages actions and character traits that enable us “to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).


Dr Graham Joseph Hill reflection engages with 1 Peter 4.1-11, a reading set out by the Revised Common Lectionary for Holy Saturday


Discussion Questions

How does suffering shape character and humility?

Why is God’s power and wisdom found in vulnerability, weakness, foolishness, and suffering?

How do these themes enable us to live as people of justice and mercy?



Lord Jesus, 

enable us to be disciples and churches that embrace service, vulnerability, integrity, and peacemaking. 

May we hold power in the service of others, reject selfish ambition and vain conceit, and value the interests of others above our interests. 

Please give us the courage to embrace Holy Saturday discipleship by embracing the suffering and vulnerability of Christ. 

May we imitate the love and humility of Jesus, which moved him to become obedient to death—even death on a cross! 

Give us the grace to find the power of God in vulnerability, weakness, foolishness, and suffering — the power of the Cross of Christ.

Please help us follow a vulnerable Messiah and imitate his humility and character. 

Your grace is sufficient for us, for your power is perfected in our weakness. 

May we be Holy Saturday Christians, finding God’s power between the Cross and resurrection – in our suffering and hope. 


Dr Graham Joseph Hill is the Western Australia State Leader for Baptist Mission Australia. He is Associate Professor of Global Christianity at the University of Divinity and the Founding Director of The Global Church Project. Graham is the author of eleven books, including Healing Our Broken Humanity (co-authored with Grace Ji‑Sun Kim).

Seeing Differently