Christ who accepted our human nature
Text: Isaiah 50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mk. 8:27-35
God’s Word has priority over everything else but many Christians are not prepared to accept this. This is the main reason why many Christians feel frustrated and inadequate even though they read the Bible, pray and witness for Christ. We can only experience victory in our lives when we become like Christ who accepted our human nature to fulfil God’s will.
In Mark 8:33 Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan! You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Peter, Jesus’ disciple, had just proclaimed Jesus’ true identity declaring, “You are the Christ.” But when he heard the cost to be paid for the revelation of God’s divine love and will for a sinful and broken world, he refused to believe it. He could not accept that Christ, who accepted every human weakness, would suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised the third day. He therefore took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him.
This same Peter, who a short time earlier had declared Jesus to be Lord, was now telling his Lord that He did not know what he was talking about.
This sounds just like what we often do. Peter, a man like us, rebuking God implying that he knew more than God did.
To Peter Jesus had to be wrong and he could not understand why Jesus was having difficulty understanding the obvious, that God would not allow Him to go through such suffering. Peter who had called him Lord refused to trust and believe His words. He chose to rely instead on his own feelings and ignored what Christ was saying. He was mindful of the things of men rather than the things of God.
To correct Peter’s misplaced concern and make His point unmistakably clear, Jesus turns to face Peter and then says, “Get behind me Satan.” Here Jesus refers to Peter as the devil, using the same words He used when He confronted the devil in the wilderness. The devil’s message then was that there was no need for Christ to die and Peter was here repeating that same message. Christ who accepted our human nature, yet without sin, focused only on God but Peter was motivated by his own desires.
When Peter focused on his own desires rather than the will of God, he became a stumbling block to God. Although Peter was speaking out of genuine concern and love for the Lord, what he said was contrary to the will of God. He was actually working against God - working in league with the devil to prevent Christ from fulfilling His mission.
Christ was fully committed to the plan of God with this world – so should we.
God wants our decisions to be based on His will and not on our emotions. When we live by our feelings and these are not in accordance with the Word of God, we end up supporting the kingdom of darkness. When Peter based his decision on his emotions rather than the Word of God, he was only joining forces with the enemy. What God wants is more important than what we feel.
Acknowledging the Lordship of Christ is the beginning of a journey - an intimate relationship with Him. It is not following a set of laws, a set of beliefs, or our thoughts and emotions - it is following Christ. This journey can be compared to a marriage. In marriage we often do not know what we are getting into, where life will lead us or how we will change. The main thing, however, is committing ourselves to another person no matter what happens, whether "Sickness or health, or for better for worse".
A journey also implies movement. We cannot afford to remain where we started and our movement is evidenced by growth. And as with any journey there are times when we get bored and tired and ask whether it is worthwhile. Many of us like Peter began our journey with Christ with great enthusiasm but is it still the same today?
We can only keep our enthusiasm when we are focused on Christ and have in mind the things of God. Every decision we make in life either promotes the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. There are no neutral decisions in life. You are either on God’s side or on the side of the devil. The Scriptures teach us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord is to submit totally to Him. True commitment means no turning back even at the risk of death. It means denying ourselves and becoming like Christ who accepted every human weakness. To deny yourself is to say no to something you really want. It is willing to say no to your preferences in obedience to God. It is pleasing God alone and no one else. If you really want something and God says no, your response should also be no.
Christ fully committed Himself to God’s will – so should we.
Every person is given the opportunity to deny himself and take up his cross. To Charles Simpson “Your cross is where your will and the will of God cross.” Your cross is not your wife or your husband. Neither is it your child or a disease. Your cross is the place where you can make the decision not to please yourself but to please God. As a Christians our will should mirror the will of God.
An intimate relationship with Christ is much more than an emotional or sentimental desire for His blessings. Many Christians today have a sentimental relationship rather than an intimate one so that when following Jesus comes to denying self and laying down their lives, they pull up short. This is what the world sees and this is one of the reasons why they mock us.
What we need to be and what we need to show the world is that we are people who love Jesus passionately and follow Him completely.
There is a story of a young boy who got his hand stuck in a very expensive flower vase. His parents did all they could to free his hand but to no avail. They tried pouring soap on his hand and when that failed they tried oil. Finally they decided that the only option left was to break the vase. They lifted up the boys arm to break the vase, and as the boy saw the anguish written all over their faces, he asked “Do you think it will help if I let go of the coin I’m holding?”
As believers our behaviour in life is no different. Many of us are holding on to that power, that prestige, that money, that career and that relationship, the very thing that is threatening to break us. What are you holding on to? Instead of letting go have you been asking why God will not deliver you from that vase in your life? Are you holding on to the very thing that is destroying you?
Let go and submit your desires to God’s desires. When we do this, we are not only rewarded in this life but also in eternity. In this life we can gain God’s life when we lose our own life. If however we decide to live our own life, we live a life that does not benefit us. It is like being offered a million dollars, which you can only receive when your life is taken from you. That money does not benefit you because you cannot spend it.
Christ fully loved his Father – so should we.
If we decide to live our own life, run our own existence and develop our own agenda, we end up with a life we cannot spend. But if we lose our life, that is give up all rights to our life, God will give us His life, which enables us to really live. God wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, daily laying aside our own desires to follow Him. He wants us to put all our energy and resources at His disposal and trusting Him to guide us.
Paul did just that. He gave up his life. He no longer had any plans or a desire of his own and was only interested in fulfilling God’s purpose. That is why he could say, “ I have been crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” Gal. 2:20. The only thing that mattered to Paul was what mattered to God and for him “to live is Christ and to die gain.”
We are not only rewarded in this life but also in eternity. There is going to be an awards day in heaven and those deserving will be presented with crowns. Paul knew of that day and said to Timothy “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing” 2 Tim. 4:8.
Before God can use you, you have to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him. That is why God tests us before He uses us. Before God could use Moses, he had to undergo a test. The test involved something very close to him, his shepherd’s rod. This rod was not only for his protection; it was part of his life. In the culture of the Middle East in those days, a person was identified with his rod, another name for staff. For those familiar with the story of Judah and Tamar, this was the reason why Tamar used the staff of Judah, her father in law, as an evidence to identify him as the father of her children.
Because Moses identified himself with his rod, he was reluctant to cast it down when God told him to. But when he did so, his rod turned into a snake and Moses actually fled from it. Then God told him to pick up the snake by its tail. When Moses obeyed and picked up the snake, it turned into a rod again. From that time on it was no longer the rod of Moses but the rod of God. With that rod Moses defeated the magicians of Egypt, stripped Pharaoh of his power, humiliated the gods of Egypt, parted the red sea and led the Israelites out of slavery to freedom.
God wants us also to throw down our life, lose our life, and to pick it up again, receive His life.
Christ fully lived a life of self-sacrifice – so should we.
Watching a caterpillar you can never imagine the potential that is locked within it - beautiful colours, wings and the power of flight. But before these potentials can be realized the caterpillar goes through a process of metamorphosis. When the process is completed, the butterfly struggles within its cocoon, breaks it open, emerges and soars into the sky.
Once an observer, realizing the struggle going on within the cocoon, decided to help and opened the cocoon with a razor blade. The butterfly emerged but died soon afterwards. What that man did not know was that the butterfly needed the struggle to strengthen its wings for its new environment.
Without a Godly mindset, without Godly commitment, with Godly love without denying yourself and without taking your cross, you will crawl through life. But when you break out from your old life, when you lose your life and take God’s life, when you accept every aspect of obedience to God, you will experience God’s power in your life. You will stop crawling like a caterpillar and soar upward in flight like a butterfly. You will then be able to fulfil God’s purpose for your life.