One of the most inspiring things I find in the story of Jesus’ life is the way He surrendered all. In the last week of His life He surrendered three times. I think this is worth reflecting on as Easter approaches.
1. Jesus Surrendered His Will in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-42)
A short time before Jesus was crucified He went to a place called Gethsemane to spend some time in prayer with the Father. He was deeply troubled, as He knew that soon He would be going to die a painful death on the cross. He threw Himself on the ground and cried out to God, “Take this cup from Me, but still not My will but Yours.” In this one sentence He expressed His heart to God the Father, and He surrendered His will completely.
2. Jesus Surrendered His Rights at Gabatha (Matthew 27:11-20)
When Jesus was taken before Pilate He was taken to a place called Gabatha or the Pavement as it is sometimes known. Pilate questioned Him about the charges brought against Him by the Jewish leaders, but Jesus chose to be silent and do the will of the Father. In doing this Jesus surrendered His rights. Jesus stood firm when He was challenged and kept focussed on the bigger picture – the salvation of mankind.
3. Jesus Surrendered His life at Golgotha (Matthew 27:32-38)
The heart of the gospel message is that Jesus died on the cross for the sin of mankind. He did this so we could all find salvation and live for eternity with Him. At any stage Jesus could have changed His mind and not gone through with the crucifixion, but He didn’t. He chose to surrender all. He did not even hold back His own life.
With Easter upon us I want to ask you some questions. Where are you in your relationship with the Lord? Have you surrendered your will? Have you surrendered you rights? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? If you would like to surrender your life you can prayer this right now.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I thank You that You surrendered Your life for me on the cross. I thank You that you paid the price for my sin when You died on the cross for me. Please forgive my sin. Right now I ask you to come in to my life today as my Lord and Saviour. I now surrender my rights, my will and my life to You, Amen.
This week I am reading the Easter Bible Readings on my main website to prepare myself for Easter. The first one is titled, “The Triumphal Entry” and is found in Matthew 21:1-11.
As I reflect on this reading a few things come to mind.
1. It tells us a lot about God. Most would expect a King to ride in on a golden carriage with a huge support crew. Jesus chose to ride in on a humble donkey with a handful of people.
2. Many people recognised Him as the King and placed their cloaks or palm branches in front of Him. This is a sign of huge respect. It makes me wonder if I would have been one of them? Or perhaps I would have been one of the mockers?
3. Jesus knew full well what would happen at the end of the week. He knew He came to die a painful death to save us. Most of us would ride past Jerusalem, but Jesus rode in. His mission was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
This triumphal entry story reminds me of Jesus’ commitment to me. It reminds me us Jesus’ commitment to us all. He loved us, He came to show us how to live and He came to save us. He did not hold back anything… not even His own life.
I have been thinking a lot about gossip lately. This has been because of the endless media reports about Tiger Woods, Michael Clarke and other “celebrities”. It seems as a society we are addicted to gossip and it fuels so much of our media.
So what is gossip? My kids dictionary described it very simply…
- Gossip is informal conversation, often about people’s private affairs
- Someone who is a gossip enjoys talking about other people’s private affairs
- If you gossip, you talk informally with someone, especially about other people
From this we can see it about talking about other people’s private business to a third person or group of people.
But what does the Bible say about gossip? I looked through my concordance to find some verses. They paint a picture of what God says about gossip.
- Gossip can betray confidences (Proverbs 11:13)
- Gossip can separate friends (Proverbs 16:28)
- Gossip makes quarrels last longer (Proverbs 26:20)
- When we gossip we have to be careful not to slander others (Leviticus 19:16)
- People who gossip are wicked (Romans 1:29)
- Christians should not gossip, but should take care of their own homes (1 Timothy 5:13)
Now these are only a few verses, but you can see they paint a very negative picture. They do not help the situation or build others up. If fact they are quite destructive.
So how do we know if we are gossiping? I remember hearing a sermon about it many years ago that has always stayed with me.
The preacher said, “If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, then it might just be gossip”.
I think in our gossip obsessed society, this is a good place to start. Let’s not involve ourselves in other people’s private business today, unless we are part of the problem or part of the solution.
In the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians we see the Apostle Paul gives the local church at Thessalonica a good report about how they are going.
In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 he says, “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ“.
Paul goes on to say in verses 5-7 that they were faithful under trial and as a result they were a great example to Christians everywhere. Paul even says that they news has spread far and wide amongst the other churches.
Wouldn’t it be good for our local churches to be known far and wide for our faithful works, our loving deeds and our constant hope we have in Christ?
I wonder what things we can do today that will make a positive impact on our local communities. I think that is worth some reflection time today.
I was reading through Hebrews 13:1-9 yesterday. It is where the Apostle Paul is winding down his letter to the Hebrew people. In it her shares a number of things that he wants them to remember.
Today I want to share them as I think they are good for us to remember too!
- Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters (v1)
- Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers (v2)
- Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison (v3)
- Marriage should be honored by all…for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (v4)
- Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have (v5)
- God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (v5)
- So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid (v6)
- Remember your leaders…and imitate their faith (v7)
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (v8)
- Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (v9)
One of the things I have been reflecting on lately is that Jesus often touched people. It didn’t matter if they had Leprosy or other diseases he still touched them with compassion.
This is particularly interesting because in Jesus’ times if you touched someone who had leprosy you instantly made yourself ritually unclean. You then had to go through an intense washing process to be “right” again. Because of this many Rabbis and Teachers of the Law avoided touching people, it was a social and spiritual taboo.
This is one of the great things about Jesus. He could have come and sat on a throne and issued teachings from afar, but instead He chose to live amongst the people. He walked, talked, healed, taught, touched and ate with people everyday.
If you have a perception that God is a far off and distant God who is removed from His creation, I would encourage you to look at the life of Jesus and see what God is really like. I think you will find, like I have, that He truly was and is a man of the people.
In the Bible there are so many if and then statements. It is where God says to His people, if you do this, then I will bless you in this way.
The other night at our weekly church prayer meeting we read from Job 11:13-19. It is one of those if and then occasions. It says…
“Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favour”.
We see in this passage God asks us to devote our hearts to Him, stretch our our hands to Him, put away sin and have nothing to do with evil in our lives. The request is about loving God, living for Him and living right.
When we do this God promises a number of great blessings…
- we will be free from guilt
- we will stand firm without fear
- we will forget our troubles
- our lives will be bright
- we will be secure
- we will rest in safety
- no one will make us afraid
- people will seek our favour
It makes it so clear that if we chose to follow God and walk in His ways, then the blessings will follow. Our lives will be so much better. It just makes so much sense to follow Him.
If you would like to find out how to follow God personally, please visit my “Finding Salvation” page here.
With Easter fast approaching I thought I would include some Easter Bible readings. These readings start with Jesus coming to Jerusalem and end with the Great Commission.
They can be found on my main website on the Bible Readings page.
One of my favourite Bible verses about sharing your faith is 1 Peter 3:15. It says, ” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.
In this verse there are three things that jump out at me about sharing our faith…
1. Set apart Christ as Lord – to be effective in sharing our faith Jesus needs to be number one in our lives. We need to have Him as our Lord and King and we need to live in a way that honours Him. When we do this is adds weight to our words and people see our faith is serious to us.
2. Always be prepared – being prepared to give reason for the hope we have should be a part of our everyday lives. If we are living an open life that honours Jesus people will want to know about our faith and hope we have. Being prepared with some answers, a testimony or a free tract or Bible can help when people ask about your faith.
3. Show respect – showing respect when we share our faith and testimony is very important. We should not argue and be disrespectful. We must always be respectful of people and their belief or unbelief. Sharing your faith is about engaging people where they are at and telling them about God’s great love for them and the salvation that comes through Christ, not debating.
So there you have it, three things from 1 Peter 3:15 that can help us in sharing our faith with others.
In Matthew 7:21-23 there is a section titled, “True disciples” in the NLT Bible. It comes immediately after a section that talks about false prophets so it gives us a contrast between the good and the bad disciples. It says…
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
As I read this section of Scripture two things spring to mind.
1. Being a true follower of Jesus is about being obedient to the Father’s will – I have found that my Christian walk works best when I seek God and ask what He wants me to do. Rather than just run around and do all the “good” things I could do, I need to be obedient to the Father’s promptings and then do my best to complete them.
2. Being a true follower of Jesus is about relationship – Jesus’ words “I never knew you” shows us that it is possible to do good works and not be in relationship with Him. I can have an intellectual knowledge of God and copy what other ministers do and get good results, but a personal relationship might not exist.
True disciples are obedient to the Father’s will and are in an ongoing personal relationship with the Son.
PS. This message is also available in MP3 here.