A few mornings ago, while sitting on my couch chatting with the Lord, I came across truths that I had never seen before in His death on the cross. May we glean from His example as we also choose to “deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him“.
These are the points the Holy Spirit revealed to me during our time together:
1. Leading up to His death, Jesus intentionally invested into the lives of those He dearly loved as His close friends.
“When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God’.” Luke 22:14-16
This is an invaluable lesson in demonstrating how we should wisely invest our time to build and maintain relationships. The Kingdom of God is about people, not works or titles. And one of the best places for building relationships (including evangelism) is the dinner table – an intimate setting where people come together to enjoy a common meal and engage in deep conversation.
2. In approaching His time of suffering, Jesus ran to the Father for help. In the presence of the Everlasting Father, Jesus was strengthened to endure the cross and fulfill His will.
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44
As we go through hard times, just as Jesus faced more than we could ever imagine, we must turn to God and ask for help. In the Lord we find the real strength that we need to endure whatever is laid out before us. We will often need the Lord’s divine intervention in many of our life circumstances. Therefore, we cannot afford to forsake humility in an effort to be self-reliant. Draw close to the Father because He waits for us, just as He waited for Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
3. Jesus made the choice to confront His close friend, Judas, on the night He was betrayed by him. Jesus didn’t go into denial, pretending nothing happened and suppressing His feelings. Nor did He curse Judas in an outburst of rage, only to later regret the words He had spoken. Nope. This Holy King boldly confronts the wrong done against Him in absolute gentleness. Gentleness. He makes the point that what was done to Him was not okay, that Judas had crossed His personal boundary line.
“While He was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss’?” Luke 22:47-48
If someone has hurt us (because it will happen), may we take on the yolk of Christ and gently confront them with the offense in love. Confrontation is not something to be avoided, but embraced. Jesus set the perfect example of how it should be done.
4. Jesus carried the cross (the very means by which he would die) to be crucified (a death for the worst of sinners) by the human race (those He created in His image). In meek boldness He shook the very core of mankind when He proclaimed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Forgiveness is what Jesus chose to bestow upon those who unjustly hurt Him. Pay attention to this statement, beloved. If the Son of God (with all power and glory) experienced unjust pain and heartache while living here on earth as part of the human race, then we (without power and glory) will also experience unjust grief and sorrow. What are we to do in these unfortunate situations? Forgive them. Run to the Father to draw the strength to forgive their wrong doing. He will be faithful to honor you by honoring Him.
5. Even in the midst of the most uncomfortable situation (hanging on the cross in extreme pain and fatigue), Jesus still chose to evangelize and encourage a soul that was lost.
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him, ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and save us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43
Talk about not losing sight of a goal. Jesus makes it very clear that despite Him being in His last hour, His heart was still for the lost. And make no mistake, beloved. Jesus never recounts the sins of this man, but lovingly welcomes him into His kingdom. If we are serious about following after Jesus, shouldn’t we also have a heart for those that do not know Him? And not to judge or criticize the way they live their lives, but to love them?
May we recount the decisions Jesus made during His last hours here on earth, and through His grace apply them to our own lives. Praise be to this great King of glory!
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