Matthew 20:17-19 ESV
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth for the very purpose to die on a cross for our sins so that we could be delivered out of our slavery to sin, and so that we could live for him and to his righteousness, in his power and strength at work within us (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
Believing in him as Lord and Savior, thus, means death to sin and self, transformation of heart and mind of the Spirit of God, surrender to him as Lord, and walking with him in obedience to his commands (Rom. 8:1-17).
Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, so that we are now God’s possession, and our lives are to be lived now for his glory, not for our own (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:24).
Not only that, but Jesus said that his followers will suffer just like he suffered. If he was hated and rejected, so should we be. If he was hounded and falsely accused and mocked and called crazy and of the devil, so will we be. And, if he was persecuted for righteousness, so shall we be. And, many of us will be martyred for our faith in Jesus Christ, as well.
And, if his primary persecutors were people of his own faith, and religious leaders within the temple of God with the power to rule over the people, know that our primary persecutors may come from within the gatherings of the church, or from within the institutional church, and from its leadership, and from our own governmental leaders and rulers, too.
And, I have been noticing a running theme in the news, of late, too, here in America, where they seem to be vilifying evangelical Christians. For, there has been one story after another after another condemning evangelical Christians and pastors of evangelical church denominations.
I am not saying, though, that none of these condemnations are justified. I am just noting that there is a running theme now of making a case that evangelical Christians are bad, not good. And, granted there are those within evangelical Christianity who do give a bad name to Christianity.
Matthew 20:20-23 ESV
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Belief in Jesus Christ isn’t about us. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not for our glory and praise. It is for the glory and praise of God. We aren’t saved from our sins just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die, and so that we can live however we want on this earth without fear of punishment.
Belief in Jesus Christ means that we drink the cup of suffering that he drank, i.e. that we die with him to sin and that we live with him to his righteousness. And, it isn’t just that we have a one-time experience with God where we repent of our sins and we put our faith in Jesus to save us. But, this is a life of suffering we are called to, for the glory of God.
Daily, by the Spirit of God, we are to be putting the deeds of the flesh to death in our lives. Daily we are to be denying self and taking up our cross and following our Lord in obedience to his ways. And, daily we are to be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off the devil’s schemes against us, and we are to be walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God and no longer according to our flesh (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26; Eph. 6:10-20; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14).
And, suffering for righteousness’ sake is to be a regular part of our Christian lives as we walk daily in obedience to our Lord and we do what he says (Ro. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:12-17; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; Lu. 21:12-19; 1 Co. 10: 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:3-12; Rev. 2-3).
But, there are many preachers today who would lead you to believe the opposite of that. They would lead you to believe that is all about you, and that it is all for you and for your glory and praise. And, they will lead you to believe that your freedom in Christ is merely freedom from the punishment of sin so that you can now go on sinning without fear of punishment.
But, they are exceedingly separated from the life we have in Christ Jesus our Lord, and they are far off from his roadmap for our lives. And, they are far away from understanding or from proclaiming the truth regarding his salvation from sin and his will and purpose for our lives. For, the salvation they teach is not the one of the scriptures, not in its entirety. It may be half right, but half wrong, and thus it is all wrong, i.e. it is a lie.
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. He bought us back for God so that we would now be God’s possession, and that our lives would be for the glory and praise of God. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. Thus, we must drink the cup of suffering that Jesus drank if we truly want to be in Christ and to have eternal life with God.
For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we are going to reap destruction. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 5:10; Gal. 5:16-21).
Matthew 20:24-28 ESV
And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Again, our salvation is not about us. It isn’t for our own glory and praise. It isn’t so that we can be raised up, but that Jesus might be lifted up. And, it isn’t just so we can get out of going to hell and just so we can go to heaven, either. And, it isn’t permission to keep on living in sin, and to self, while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny, either.
And, it isn’t so that we can stick our noses up at other people, either, and think that we are somehow superior. But, it also doesn’t mean that we compromise truth in order to appear humble and lowly, either, out of being ashamed of Christ and his gospel, and out of fear of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
We are here on this earth to serve God and to be a servant to others in sharing with them the love of Jesus, and with doing the kinds of things that Jesus did, too, when he walked the face of this earth. But, know this: Jesus confronted sin in sinful humans, and he called for repentance and obedience to God, and he warned of divine judgment and of the fires of hell, too.
So, serving others never means compromising our faith or the gospel of our salvation so that others will think well of us, or so that they will think that we are humble and not self-righteous.
For, Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many, and we, too, are to lay down our lives and our reputations, and to forsake worry over what others will think about us in order to share with others the truth of the gospel so that they can be saved from their sins, and so that they can have eternal life with God, for the glory and praise of God.
O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth
Author: Samuel Medley (1789)
O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth
Which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
and vie with Gabriel while he sings
in notes almost divine,
in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
my ransom from the dreadful guilt
of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
in which all perfect, heav’nly dress
my soul shall ever shine,
my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters he bears,
and all the forms of love he wears,
exalted on his throne:
in loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
I would to everlasting days
make all his glories known,
make all his glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come
when my dear Lord will bring me home,
and I shall see his face;
then with my Savior, Brother, Friend,
a blest eternity I’ll spend,
triumphant in his grace,
triumphant in his grace.
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