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.’”
You know what? Jesus not only prepared his disciples ahead of time for his death and resurrection, but he prepared them/us ahead of time for what they/we would have to suffer, too, if they/we were/are to be his followers. He said,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lu 9:23-26 ESV).
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:9-13 ESV).
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.’”
Do we ever get our focus in the wrong direction? Do we ever want what is not ours to have, or what is focused on self instead of on God? Do we ever get more focused on what we want rather than on what God wants of us and for us? Do we ever get the wrong idea of why Jesus saved us from our sins?
Have you ever had the Lord, then, set you straight, saying something like this, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man”? I clearly remember one day when he said that to me in my spirit, and he was absolutely right. I was off base. I needed to refocus.
The Christian life is not about us and what we want out of life. It is about God and what he wants for us and out of us. So, Jesus is asking us, too, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” Are we? Do we know what that cup is? It is a cup of suffering for our walks of faith in Christ.
It is dying with Christ daily to sin and to self, and it is walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. So, it involves daily saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and saying “Yes” to living godly, upright, and self-controlled lives by God’s Spirit (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Tit 2:11-14).
But it isn’t just that. It is living the life that Jesus lived. True, we are not sinless like he was, but we are delivered from our slavery to sin by faith in Jesus Christ, and we are empowered of God’s Spirit to now live to Christ and to his righteousness, and to obey him in the power of God’s Spirit.
And when we do this, when our lives our fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus, to walk the walk that he walked, we will also be hated, persecuted, falsely accused, slandered, betrayed, denied, ridiculed, called all sorts of names, forsaken, forgotten, abandoned, and even killed for our faith in Jesus.
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.’”
We who are believing in Jesus Christ with our lives, who have died and are dying with him to sin and are living to him and to his righteousness, are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but we are to think of ourselves with sober judgment.
We are to humble ourselves before God and before other humans and we are to serve our Lord in doing what he says, and we are to serve our fellow humans in the ways that Jesus served others when he walked this earth. And this includes loving those who hate us, too.
Our lives should be surrendered to Jesus Christ, and we are to be committed to him and to continuing the work that he began when he lived on this earth. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, for Jesus bought us back for God that we would now honor God with our lives.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.