google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Easter 2017 - 08 Choices To Be Made

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Saturday – Choices to be Made

Choice 1. The decision to accept Jesus' Cross for you, is yours alone to make

 

Jesus is dead. His disciples have dispersed, probably in hiding, thinking they are next. Jesus’ body has been placed in a new tomb and the women are waiting to ceremonially deal with His body. As we have seen, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, is God’s solution to the suffering and sin of the world. Only by Jesus Christ going to cross have sin, suffering and satan been dealt mortal blows. The cross provides the solution as it provides a substitution, propitiation, redemption and a victory. 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 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.

Choice 1. Take up your own cross

In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus says,

“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.”

Carry a cross? Is that what Jesus said? That must have been just about the most degrading thing you could possibly ask anyone to do in those days. And not only degrading, also incredibly painful as it would have followed a terrible scourging and been followed by the most terrible death. Did he really mean what he said? It seams so because the record suggests that Peter died just that way. The apostle James had it easy – he was just beheaded! (Acts 12:2)

What is our response to that to be? It must be just about the hardest, toughest, most difficult thing Jesus ever said to his followers. We are being 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.

What have you given up 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 be number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions.

How is this to be done? By constantly ensuring that your works and words match your lifestyle and that no hypocrisy can be found, or will be found in your life. It means standing up for God in the face of adversity. It means loving others even though they hate you.

Just a couple of examples: In the UK, we aren’t systematically persecuted; we are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored. In some other parts of the world members of our Christian family 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). Bonhoeffer 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. Dietrich was to die as a martyr for Christ at the hands of the Nazis.

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 our brothers and sisters.”

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 it using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within us, then we will succeed at following Jesus’ command. Are you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ, if you are one, willing to take up your cross and follow him? What a difference that would make to the community where you live.

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