Jesus gives up His rights — His rights to glory, His rights to being worshiped, His rights to His full power. Simultaneously He takes up human flesh with its physical weaknesses — with functions we never mention when we speak of Jesus perhaps because we can’t quite wrap our minds around those functions in regards to God. Eventually, Jesus literally takes up the cross to die a horrific death on our behalf.
“And [Jesus] says to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
Tough to relinquish rights, isn’t it? From early childhood, we learn “that’s mine!” and “No, I won’t!” or “You can’t make me!” Denying what’s ours and giving up what we want do not come naturally to us. We desperately want to save ourselves. We don’t want to follow along after someone else.
Jesus says, “Don’t struggle to save yourself. Put all that outer stuff down. Each day, pick up and deal with what comes. And follow Me. Otherwise, in your self-absorption you’ll lose Me and your life.”
“When Jesus, therefore, receives the vinegar, He says, ‘It is finished;’ and He bows His head, and gives up the spirit.”
Jesus dies on the cross, accomplishing payment for the sins of the world. He is buried, visiting hell to remind our adversary he has no power over us.
“Peter, therefore, goes forth, and that other disciple, and comes to the sepulcher. So they run together; and the other disciple does outrun Peter, and comes first to the sepulcher. And he, stooping down and looking in, sees the linen clothes lying; yet goes he not in. Then comes Simon Peter following him, and goes into the sepulcher, and sees the linen clothes lying there, and the cloth, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then goes in also that other disciple, who came first to the sepulcher, and he sees, and believes. For as yet they know not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” (John 20:3-9, KJV)
He is risen! to achieve glory for Himself and for His children, the sons of God.
Jesus takes the cup, blesses it, gives it to His disciples, tells them to drink of His blood in remembrance of Him. He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, shares it with His disciples, tells them to eat of His body in remembrance of Him. The last supper with His followers is here.
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
As we remember Him, His love “constrains us” — we are reminded that “if one died for all, then were all dead.” We remember He “dies for all, that [we] which live should not henceforth live unto [ourselves], but unto Him.”
What makes us live for Him? His love, and the power of His resurrection from the dead. As we die with Him in weakness, so we rise with Him in power. He dies for us. We live for Him.
Acceptance is the act of taking or receiving something offered; it is a favorable reception; approval; favor. Acceptance is the act of assenting or believing: the acceptance of a theory; and it is the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.
Paul tells us God’s good pleasure is to accept us. God’s plan from before time is to show us His favor and give us His approval. In Christ, God is pleased to gather us together along with all things in heaven and on earth. And what is the mystery of His will? His good pleasure that He purposed in Himself! When? Before the foundation of the world! Why? To the praise of His glory!
Here in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to Ephesians is the ultimate picture of God’s love for us:
“3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”
“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9, KJV)
I’ve heard people say this; I must admit the statement always surprises me. I’ve never said this because I’ve never accomplished this feat. I’m able to say, “Jesus made my heart clean, so I am pure from my sin.” But, I can’t say, I never sin.
To believe you never sin — that’s equivalent to believing you are perfect. You never make a mistake, you never do less than your very best, you never strike back, you never take more than your share, you never speak ill of another, you never go to bed with worry or anger in your heart, you never fail to notice someone’s pain, you never fail to help, you never roll your eyes, you never look away, you never forget to care, you never…
Jesus teaches some truths privately. He takes aside His twelve disciples — including Judas the betrayer — to tell them about their trip to Jerusalem. We’re going up there to the city of God so that I can be condemned to death. I’m going to be ‘scorned, and scourged, and crucified.’ But I’m also going to ‘rise again to life’ on the third day. He may even speak an aside in Judas’ direction, This will thwart the plans of Satan, those plans in which you are to be deeply involved very soon.
Imagine the twelve looking at each other. What did Jesus say? What are we doing? Why are we going to Jerusalem? Did Jesus really mean He is going to die? And what else did He say? He’s going to rise again to life?
“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them, [And Jesus, ascending up to Jerusalem, took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them,] Lo! we go up to Jerusalem, and man’s Son shall be betaken to princes of priests, and to scribes; and they shall condemn him to death. And they shall betake him to heathen men, for to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again to life. [And they shall betake him to heathen men, to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again.]”
Then, upon entering the city, the crowds greet them with waving palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 9, KJV) You can almost hear the disciples, What are we to make of this? These people don’t seem to want Jesus to die? What’s going on?Is our Master mistaken?
These men walk about in a daze, not fully knowing. The next thing Jesus does is clear the temple of money-changers, saying to them, “My house shall be called the house of prayer,but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13, KJV) Next He heals the blind and the lame. Then, He tells the chief priests and scribes that God has “perfected praise” in the mouths of infants. (Matthew 21:16, KJV) He laments over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37, KJV)
From the moment Jesus enters Jerusalem, He challenges the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadduces as well as the Herodians. Eventually, the plot to kill Him is fully developed and His statement to His disciples comes to pass. Soon they know.
Notice who is the fool? The fool is the one who says there is no God. With no Creator, the foolish man is corrupted by his own study; his view of the universe distorted by his own thoughts. With such a view of life, the fool is incapable of doing good. His deeds remain abominable. Not one person who denies God’s existence does good for the capacity for love is absent.
“To the victory, [the psalm] of David. The unwise man said in his heart, God is not. They be corrupt, and they be made abominable in their studies; none there is that doeth good, none is till to one. (To victory, the song of David. The fool said in his heart, There is no God. Such men be corrupt, and they be made abominable in their deeds; there is no one who doeth good, no not one.)”