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Mark 15:23 records that Jesus refused to drink a mixture of wine and myrrh that would have reduced the pain of his crucifixion.
Why? Was there a certain level of physical pain He had to suffer in order to accomplish the purpose of his death? Did the Father require a minimum amount of physical trauma before salvation’s plan would be complete? I don’t think so. For Jesus the physical aspect of the cross, with all its horror, was not the worst part of his sacrifice.
Jesus refused the myrrh because He still had work to do, even after the nails had been driven through his hands and feet. He needed a clear head to to stay sinless until his death.
For thirty-three years He had lived a life of sinless perfection, always obedient to his Father’s will. Even though the crucifixion had begun He still had six hours during which He had to continue to resist temptation. To sin at this late stage would have been to negate all previous acts of service and obedience. He had to remain the perfect Lamb right up to the moment of his death.
The myrrh might have clouded his determination. (He was, after all, still fully man.) By refusing it, He was choosing spiritual purity as a higher priority than the relief of pain and placing obedience to the Father’s assignment above comfort. He could not allow a chemical crutch to interfere with his most important task.
The temptations of those six hours on the cross must have been greater than all the other temptations of his entire life. Truly He was a man among men, masculine, heroic and courageous in every sense of the terms.
John 6 tells of a problem facing Jesus and the disciples. More than five thousand people needed to be fed. The only food the disciples could find was fives loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus took that meager lunch and thanked God for it.
But what was there to be thankful for? Five loaves and two fish? To feed five thousand people? The problem was immense and the resources inadequate. Yet He took a few minutes to show appreciation to his Father. He had the attitude of “We don’t have much, but we are truly grateful for what you have provided and we’ll do the best we can with it!”
Then He had the disciples start giving the food to the people. Give them what? Five loaves and two fish divided 5,000 ways? No! They were to share all God had provided.
God’s power was released by Jesus’ faith. The multitude got a meal and the disciples received a faith lesson. (In fact, that lesson may had been the primary motive for the entire episode.)
His followers could not visualize one small lunch becoming a seafood buffet for the crowd. To them a large problem and small resources equaled unmet needs. But their equation omitted God’s willingness and ability to help those in need.
What about us? Do we find this lesson easy to understand in our minds, but difficult to incorporate into our lifestyle? Do we ignore God’s power when we consider how we can solve our big problems without limited resources?
We read Jesus’ words about moving mountains and we say “I’m going into the earth moving business!” Then we run head-on into problems like stubborn children, monthly bills, a distant spouse or an uncaring boss. And what do we do? We compare the size of the problem with the size of our resources and become discouraged.
God wants to help us every day with every problem. But his power will be limited in our lives if we do not demonstrate faith in his ability and desire to care for us.
During His stay on earth Jesus did many things we call miracles. John, in his account of Jesus’ life here, called them signs. Which term is correct? Both!
To us they seem to be impossible. Our knowledge is so limited we cannot explain or understand them.They remain a source of confusion for those who seek scientific explanations of Jesus’ accomplishments. And they were miraculous.
Jesus intended to ease the pain and suffering of those who were sick, hungry, frightened and demon-possessed. He cared about their conditions and He had a desire to help.
However, each of his actions had a larger, more eternal purpose. They were signs to show his followers, then and now, that He was God incarnate. Only the same God who had created the universe and instituted the laws that govern it could alter those laws whenever He chose. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary and Joseph, was Jehovah. The miracles were signs of that truth.
When we read the gospels if we understand no more than the earthly results of his actions, we miss the message He intends for us. The outward, physical results were temporary. Each of the people He healed eventually died. But the larger ramifications lead us to eternal issues.
If we are not born-again children of God we have a spiritual sickness as real as the physical ailments of those Jesus healed. He offers to heal us of that sin-sickness and welcome us into his family for eternity. And that is the most wonderful miracle of all.
God wants my life to be a miracle that shows his power and love to the world.
My friend lived in a large city I had never visited. Recently I was driving past there to a meeting. I called my friend and we met for dinner at a restaurant near the interstate.
As we were parting in the parking lot I received a phone call and I was told the meeting was postponed one day. I suddenly had an extra twenty-four hours.
My friend invited me to spend the night in his home. I accepted and asked how to get there. He responded “Just follow me.” And with that he drove off.
I hated every moment of that forty-five minute drive. I kept my eyes glued to his tail lights, afraid a stop light or another car would come between us and force me to lose sight of him. If that had happened I would have been in serious trouble. (I did not have GPS.)
As we were in the middle of this game of “follow-the-leader-or-else” I realized it was similar to our challenge of staying in contact with Jesus. Sometimes He leads through strange, dangerous territory. It is my responsibility to maintain contact with Him or I will get lost.
Since I had never been in that city before, there were billboards new to me and buildings that enticed me to take a “second look.” I was tempted to become a tourist rather than stay on my friend’s bumper. In the same way, following Jesus requires us to develop some degree of tunnel vision, focusing only on Him.
Jesus says “Follow me.” Our reaction must not be “Where?” or “Why?” or “What will we see?” or “When will we get back?” It is up to us to reply “okay” and get prepared to enjoy the trip.
Luke 15:13 tells us that after the prodigal son left home, he wasted his money. His father had given him something of value. He wasted it.
God has given us things of value. Are we, like the prodigal, wasting them?
He has put a certain amount of money at our disposal. We may spend it, give it away, save it or invest it. Whichever of these we choose, we are wasting it if our choices do not reflect his desires.
God gives us twenty-four hours a day – the same amount given the billionaire and the begger. Do we ask Him how we should spend them and then do we follow his directions? Do we worship and praise Him or do we ignore Him? Do we give a cup of cold water in his name or do we drink it all to satisfy our own thirst?
God has given us a limited amount of influence on friends, family and neighbors. Do we take every opportunity to let people know we love Him and are grateful for all our blessings or do we forget to give Him the credit?
God has given us the ability to learn and remember. Do the things we put into our cranial computers glorify and please Him or is our input wasted on non-eternal issues?
Each evening we can return home to our Father in prayer. We must be careful how we live so that we do not have to confess that we wasted the substance He gave us that morning.
I have heard it said that to avoid running ahead of God we should delay helping others “until we feel the Holy Spirit leading us to serve in that particular situation.”
Maybe instead we should start helping them immediately and continue until the Holy Spirit tells us to quit.