April 21, 2014

Easter 2014 - Easter Monday


Easter 2014 – Easter Monday

Responding To The Easter Events

Our response to the events of Easter?

Today is Easter Monday! We have looked at the events of Easter! Jesus dead and buried! Jesus resurrected – raised to new life physically and with a new glorious body! WOW ! Alleluia!! - But so what? What is our response to this to be?

Our first response if we are followers of Jesus is that we are to love. Love not just in words but also in action.. Love God and love others. What kind of love? It is to be a practical, self-less, giving and sacrificial love. 1 John 3:16 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus told all his followers to take up their cross if they were to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

There is a price to pay for true followers of Jesus Christ! Followers are surrender completely to Him in all aspects of life! Followers identify with Him in suffering and death and follow Him obediently, wherever He leads. Followers are to take up their own cross in order to show that they are followers of Jesus Christ – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Cross is a choice

The cross is God’s solution to the suffering, evil, troubles and sin of the world. Only by Jesus Christ going to the cross have evil, sin, suffering and satan been dealt mortal blows. The cross provides the victorious solution. The cross is not a symbol to be merely placed around the neck on a chain, to be worn as a lapel pin, or as a item statement of fashion. The cross is not meant to portray Jesus as some form of sadomasochistic ‘tragi-hero’ as some people try to make it out to be. The cross is God’s solution to the problem of evil, sin, suffering and pain, as much as the wise of this world would love to think that it is not.

The cross is a choice. You can choose to deny the cross and say it doesn’t matter. You can say that it is an irrelevance and that is your right. God will not force you to accept the cross and love him. If He did, He would have created Adam so that Adam would automatically love him and not given him free will to rebel. That way the cross would not have been needed. But such is the enormity of the love of God, that each person, including you and I, have a choice to make – follow Jesus and take up your own cross and be an overcomer for Him. God will not force you to accept it, but he will keep on calling you back to the cross. Calling sometimes in quiet ways and at other times, much more loudly. You can deny the cross and its meaning and when Jesus Christ comes again in judgment, you will find that He denies you entrance into His glorious kingdom. When Jesus comes again, everyone will know who He is and bow down to Him. But only those whom He knows, will be granted access into everlasting life.

How you think of the cross, ultimately has relevance to you and affects your reality. You can accept the cross as your personal substitution, personal propitiation and personal redemption. That way you have peace with God. The cross of Jesus Christ thoroughly epitomises God’s glory, and if there were any other way that God the Father could restore people into relationship with Himself, then surely He would have done it that way. But there was no other way – Jesus Christ, as the Son of God who was simultaneously fully God and fully human, died on a Roman cross. He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that you can be restored into a peaceful relationship with God the Father. That is for all people, of all nations, ages, generations, statuses and gender. The cross is amazing love in action and is ignored at great peril. Let us go forward in hope and faith, choosing deliberately not to boast in anything else, save only of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The wisdom of God as exhibited on and in the Cross of Jesus Christ, is foolishness but only to those who don’t accept it.

But it is more than that for the Christian!

Luke 9:23-26 Jesus speaking “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

What is our response to this to be? As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to count the cost of following Him. That is how we carry our own cross for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions! Alas, that’s a cost too high for some! Here is one man who couldn’t give up something to follow Jesus!

Let’s call him Basil. Basil runs up to Jesus! Basil wants eternal life, and he wants it now! So Basil asks Jesus about how to get it. He has fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus. However! However when Jesus said to Basil that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth and possessions in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, Basil leaves disconsolate and shattered. Basil couldn’t do it!

It was a step too far for Basil. He wanted his riches and also everlasting life, but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only person that we know of, who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful. That was due to Basil putting his trust in himself, his riches and wealth alone. Now riches, in and of themselves, are not necessarily wrong! The life of Basil, this rich young ruler, reflected a life of absorption with his own self-interest and self-importance! Basil was not willing to make the sacrifice required to follow Jesus. He couldn’t count the cost of following Jesus– it was too high a price for him to pay!

What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus? Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of the WOW factor of Jesus. Jesus demands that He is number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions.

How is this done? This is done by consistently ensuring that your works and words match your lifestyle and that no hypocrisy can be found, or indeed will be found. It means standing up for God in the face of adversity. It means loving others even though they hate you. In the UK, we aren’t systematically persecuted. We are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored but some of our Christian family around the world who daily face death simply because they chose to follow Jesus. They are carrying their cross for Jesus!

What about us in the UK? For example if we as Christians were known by our self-sacrificial love of all others, then Jesus whom we claim to love, follow, worship, and adore would be seen. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote "When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. ... Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Jesus Christ, nor is it hero worship, but intimacy with Christ." (The Cost of Discipleship). Bonnhoeffer knew that as a Christian, a person has to take up their own cross in following Jesus and count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

He goes onto say: "Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. ... The Christian disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry." (The Cost of Discipleship)

Finally, let’s look at 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for others.” Jesus told us to take up our own cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple. How is that possible? If we try to do that in our own strength and wisdom, we will fail. If we do that using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within you, then you will succeed at following Jesus’ command. Are you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ willing to take up your? What a difference that would make to the community where you live!

Jesus still meets people today

To those that have responded to Jesus and are following Him, Jesus still meets with them. How does He do this?

Jesus walks with us, wherever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who proclaim to follow Him (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32). Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus meets us in the Communion or Lord’s Supper, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood as an act of remembrance of what He did for humanity.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, it show that we as Christians have also risen from the dead! Our old nature is dead and our new nature is alive! In the sacrament of baptism, Christ’s death is symbolised in our going under the water bodily, just as His resurrection is symbolised when we are raised up and out of the water! WOW! Jesus Christ – dead, buried and raised to new life! The Christian – dies to self, buries their old sinful nature and raised to new life in Jesus Christ with a new nature, ready to serve the risen Jesus! WOW!

More than that, His resurrection was not merely coming back to life. Jesus had raised people back to life during his ministry. But those people would go on to die again. Jesus was not like that, because he had new and glorious body! And we too will one day have new bodies! WOW!

If you are not yet a follower of this Jesus, then start following now! You may not have another opportunity to do so! If you don’t know what to do then contact us here at Partakers and we will help you!! Thank you.

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