Thursday, June 23, 2011

Accepting the Cross Like Jesus

Jesus’ life (and our lives)

Mark 8:31-38

 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 

After accepting the position of “Messiah” by his disciples, Jesus had to explain what that meant.  It meant rejection by the Jewish leaders, shame, suffering and death on a cross.  The disciples couldn’t accept this, for that path was the opposite of being the Messiah for Jesus.  But Jesus declared that God’s way was the way of the cross.  Then he declared that anyone who wanted to follow Jesus would have to accept rejection, shame, suffering and death.  That was the way of Jesus. That is the only way to gain true life.  Jesus not only accepted it, he insisted on it for himself and everyone who followed him.

Mark 14:35-36

He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will." 

Jesus did not have an easy time accepting the cross.  It was a hard trial to accept.  No one wants to face rejection, shame, suffering and death on their own.  Jesus didn’t want it.  But he accepted it because it was God’s will.  He struggled all through that night, but he endured and passed the test.

Hebrews 5:7-8

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

Jesus cried and begged to be released from death.  But in the end, he accepted it, because it was the proof that Jesus was obedient to the Father.  And because of this, his cries were heard and he was delivered from death after he had passed through it.

Our Lives
Acts 5:40-41

After calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them  So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

The apostles were happy that they had been beaten.  Not because they were masochists, but because it proved that they were worthy of Jesus.  If they had not been worthy, they never would have endured through the beatings.  But because of the beatings, they proved that they were righteous.

Acts 14:22

"Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." 

If we wish to enter the kingdom of God, we must endure through tribulations and difficulties and trials.  We need to accept these trials for the sake of us entering God’s kingdom.

Romans 5:3-5

We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts  

The sufferings we have in Christ are to be acceptable to us—not only acceptable, but we are to be glad when we have them!  If we didn’t have the sufferings, we couldn’t prove our righteousness through enduring through them.  If we couldn’t prove our righteousness, then we would have no confidence that we will be raised from the dead.  But if we stand with God through our trials, then we know that we will be raised, even as Jesus was.  So let us be glad when we suffer for Jesus and endure!

Jim Elliot wrote years before he became a missionary and endured any kind of suffering, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Later, in presenting the gospel to murderous tribesmen, he died.  He did not die in vain, though, for God kept his life preserved for the kingdom of heaven.

The early Anabaptists and Waldensians were considered heretics by all those around them, even though all they were doing was preaching the word of God.  But wherever they preached the word, they were arrested and maligned and tortured and executed.  They had their tongues chopped off, their backs whipped, their families taken from them and their wives and children slaughtered before them.  They were drowned, hung, beheaded and burned.  All for being faithful to Jesus’ word.

Living It Out
q Do not return evil for evil
(Romans 12:17)

q Submit to evil authorities, even to their oppressive punishments
(I Peter 2:18-20)

q Disobey authorities when they tell you to disobey God
(Acts 4:18-20)

q Tell people the truth of Jesus, even if they hate you for it.
(Matthew 10:27-28)

q Do good to everyone, especially those whom society tells you to hate
(Galatians 6:10; Luke 15:1-10)

q Find good to do to those who hate you.
(Romans 12:17; Luke 6:35)

q Don’t talk back to people’s scorn and hating remarks.
(Romans 12:17-18)

q Recognize that such trials will come
(II Timothy 3:12)

q Rejoice in trials, for you will gain God’s approval and maturity through them.
(James 1:2-4)

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