Saturday, May 26, 2012

Do Like Jesus

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

If we are to become like Jesus, we will have to start to do like Jesus.


That sounds simple enough.  It sounds almost like a formula. Doing like Jesus = being like Jesus.

Really?

We can get wrapped up in a whole lot of theological theory or biblical-sounding babble that sounds good but does us no earthly (or, even eternal) good.  In the end, talk remains just as cheap in Christendom as it did in any secular sense.  At some point, we have to do more of Christianity than simply study about it and show up for church, Sunday school or prayer meeting.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)


We need to do Jesus by doing like Jesus. That's not as simple as it sounds.  Look at what Jesus went through, too.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. - Hebrews 12:3 (ESV)

And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. - Mark 6:5 (NLT)

27 Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” - Mark 11:27-28 (NLT)

No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. - John 5:44 (NLT)

2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? - Matthew 11:2-3 (KJV)

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
- John 6:66 (NIV)
For even his own brothers did not believe in him. - John 7:5 (NIV)

Jesus went through a lot.  He went through a lot with many of the people who should have had His back.  He withstood unbelief and doubt, even an outright walk-out by some of His own disciples.  Even John the Baptist, in his last days in prison, sent two of his own disciples to find out if Jesus was really the Messiah or not.  Jesus had to deal with all of that.


The question is whether we can do like Jesus and endure the abandonment of family and friends. 

Can we withstand those who will walk out or walk away and never walk with us again? Can we endure the doubters and their disbelief?
Can we stand firm when we have to stand alone?

No, the Lord never forsakes us.  He is with us, but we have to understand that the Lord's work can become lonely work in human terms.  We have to accept the fact that some folks just won't stick with us or stick by us as we continue on a journey with Jesus.

If you aim to do like Jesus, just expect to be done like Jesus, too.  Let us not forget that it was Jesus who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  It was Jesus who took on the penalty of sin upon the cross for the sake of mankind's salvation.   If that's how people treated the Anointed One who healed the sick and performed miracle upon miracle, how do you think they'll do you?


Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself. . .













Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hated Just Like Him

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.'
-John 15:18-25 (NKJV)

The words of Jesus seem to have been spoken with both simplicity and significance.

What He said to His closest followers on that final night before His death seemed to come off as touching as Lou Gehrig's farewell in Yankee Stadium delivered by Gary Cooper in "The Pride of the Yankees." He spoke specifically of the things to come and how His disciples should face them with the inevitable assurance of the coming of the Helper.  He spoke directly, openly and candidly with these men about His departure.  Yet, He spoke plainly about what these men would face without Him physically present with them.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

He kept it plain.  He said it with simplicity.  He said that they would be hated by the world since Jesus had been hated by the world.  He said it in real simple terms.  He did not want it misunderstood or misinterpreted by them.  He kept it simple, hoping them to take His words in and remember them when the time came.

If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. 

He said it with significance.  Persecution, in whatever form that it would show up, would surely come to the followers of Jesus.  Jesus said it to them while He was still with them.  That was significant.  He did not want them caught off guard by the ill treatment of the world.  He did not want them to be shocked or stunned by how cruel the world could be towards Him or His followers.

He had already shared the indication of the world's past.  He had already spoken of Israel's ill treatment of the prophets.  He had already shared words that had perplexed and confused in His famed Sermon on the Mount, referencing the prophets being treated to persecution prior to His coming

Why say it in such a way? Why keep it simple and plain?

Soon, after the meal had been shared and the wine had been sipped, they would see one of their own hand the Master over to His persecutors.  Once they had supped, they would be confused among themselves regarding much of what He had said.  They would question their own motives.  They would run and hide, doing no better than those disciples who "turned back and no longer followed him." 

He said it simple and plain.  He said it with significance.  He said it so the disciples would recall it when they needed to remember it the most.  After all, we read it today and recognize that our own mistreatment is not without reason.  We follow Jesus.  We walk in His footsteps.  We get the hatred of the world that hates Him because we not of the world since He chose us out of the world and caused us to walk with Him.

Those who hate me without a cause

Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.
-Psalm 69:4 (NKJV)
 
Amen Me!