The Life of Christ – Seeing Things that Really Count (4) - Thursday, March 15th

The Life of Christ – Seeing Things that Really Count (4) - Thursday, March 15th

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

In today’s passage we reach the point where Jesus and his disciples are heading for Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus stops, takes the twelve aside, and gives them the details of what he will go through in Jerusalem. It is not a pretty picture. Later in the passage, Jesus speaks of his Jerusalem experiences of suffering as the cup that he drinks and as the baptism with which he is baptized. In response to James and John’s request to share his glory, Jesus says, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.” Before there can be glory, there will be suffering. The twelve will eventually experience great suffering as followers of Christ. Yesterday, we borrowed much of the description of Christ’s suffering in today’s passage and posed these ingredients of suffering as a tongue in cheek appeal for why someone should come and follow Jesus.

If we respond to the message of the Gospel primarily for what God does for us, then we will be prone to continue to look to God primarily for what He can do for us. When we recognize the forgiveness of sins which the Gospel offers as God’s means for reclaiming us for Himself and His purposes and desires, we will be prepared to suffer with Christ for the sake of the Gospel and all the lost sheep who are yet to be brought back under the ownership and care of our Great Shepherd. How prone we are to be like James and John and want glory without sacrifice. Taking the steps of our own choosing is hard to resist, but we must give up on them. This is one of the greatest and most needed sacrifices we can make. It is the road less traveled but it makes all the difference every step of the way and in the end.

Ultimately, Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and yet He gave Himself as a ransom for us in the ultimate act of service. However, we get in trouble if we take the position of ones who are being served by Him. We must humble ourselves in absolute surrender to Him viewing His sacrifice as His means of reclaiming us. His sacrifice gives us the wondrous opportunity for us to sacrifice ourselves for Him. When we are empty of ourselves, our agendas, and what we want from God, we then become to Him vessels with room enough to be filled with His presence and loving benevolence and available for whatever use he has in mind for us. This alone is how we are able to genuinely follow in Christ’s footsteps.

Jesus knew who He was and why He was here. He came to serve and not be served. Jesus cared about both the physical and spiritual needs of people but their spiritual need for redemption was at the heart of who He was and why He was here. So, when we look at ourselves, we must seek to be the kind of person who desires to serve instead of being served. We need to care about and seek to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of people but always with a view toward their redemption in Christ. Here is a good way to think of it: I want to be one who exists to be a servant of God that He readily uses as a vessel to bless others in ways that contribute to the redemptive work He is bringing about in their lives. When we are so focused, then all the other aspects of being human beings who live life here on earth (family, work, community, friends, recreation, etc.) become the context for fulfilling our central calling and mission.

Quite a high calling. Perhaps it seems so high that it is out of reach. We have been restored to a relationship with God through redemption so that we can enjoy the blessing of God’s presence and so that we become vessels who bless the lives of others as God’s presence in us touches them in powerful ways. Gaining and maintaining the focus necessary for God’s calling and mission to be central in our lives requires that we really do become ones who exist to be true servants of God.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, help me to discern between my steps and your steps. May your steps become the steps I desire. I truly want your steps and not my own. Even so, I recognize that some of what I originally desired for myself will be included in what you desire for me. That is truly amazing but the difference will be that I am living for you and your will and not me and my will. May you be glorified, Lord. Amen!

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