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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.
When I start to pray I am being granted entrance into the very throne room of heaven, into the presence of the Creator of the universe. I have the undivided attention of the Almighty.
I am not worthy of such a privilege even once in my lifetime, let alone every moment of every day.
What if God limited the times I could pray to Him. For instance, what if I could pray only one hour per year, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on my birthday. Would I then enter His presence lightly, with scattered focus, interrupted thoughts and glib phrases? I don’t think so.
If such were the case, my prayers would be intense and organized and full of passion. I would be aware of the tremendous responsibility and privilege, determined to make the best of my hour with God.
Why should my current prayer times be any different? Even though my Father grants me constant entrance into His presence, I need to be always aware of the magnitude of this privilege. I should not enter His presence without the proper respect and gratitude simply for the privilege of going there.
This should be my attitude even before I make petitions and receive blessings.
As a born again, covered-by-the-blood Christian, just exactly who am I?
Am I a child of the King, a prince of kingdom? Am I a servant of the most high? Could I perhaps be a soldier in God’s army or maybe an ambassador to foreign kingdoms?
YES! YES! YES! YES! I am all of those, but it is easier to announce that answer than to fully understand and explain it.
My position in God’s kingdom is that of a son, a privileged prince who can claim all the blessings and perks available to one of such high status. Yet I am His servant, standing ready to eagerly fulfill His every wish. As a fully-armed soldier in His army I am ready to do battle, clothed in the armor He has provided for me. And my position as an ambassador sends me into the streets and alleys inviting the needy of this world to his banquet.
It seems impossible to successfully fill any one of these roles, let alone all four at the same time. And it is impossible – totally and completely impossible – if I try it within my own power and wisdom. Only the Holy Spirit, working through me can successfully perform this balancing act.
If we allow it, God will use our fears to move us deeper into our faith in Him. Or if we allow it, Satan will use our fears to move us into desperation away from the Father. Faith or desperation. The choice is ours.
I have some difficult and unpleasant lessons to learn, but I have a wonderful Lord to lean on while I learn.
My super hero has a cross, not a cape.
Jesus left the ultimate comfort zone (heaven) to make the ultimate sacrifice (the cross) for me, the ultimate “he doesn’t deserve it.”
Each morning when I ask God “What do you want me to do today” I need search no further than the life of Jesus for my answer.
It is GRACE that causes God’s GREATNESS to become God’s GOODNESS that showers me with blessings I don’t deserve. It is MERCY that causes God’s MAGNIFICENCE to become God’s MIRACLES that protect me from receiving the punishment I do deserve.
A woman had three sons, each of them married with children of their own. All three were scheduled to arrive at her house at 11:00 for lunch on Thanksgiving Day.
For days she carefully planned the menu. Most of Wednesday was spent cooking desserts. She put the turkey in the oven at 5:00 Thanksgiving morning. The table was adorned with her best dishes and gleaming, polished silverware. By 10:45 everything was ready. She had done her best and she was pleased with her efforts.
Then she heard voices and strange noises from the area behind the house where the trash cans were stored. When she looked outside she could hardly believe her eyes. There were all three of her boys, along with their families, sitting in a circle around the trash containers. They were eating from the trash cans.
Using the can lids as serving trays they were eating potato and apple peels, carrot tops, and orange rinds. As she watched they scraped out what was left from the discarded vegetable cans and frozen food boxes.
She rushed outside, horrified at their behavior. “All of you come into the house this instant,” she cried.” This is crazy. I have a wonderful meal for you in there. Why would you want to eat garbage out here when I have turkey and mashed potatoes and hot rolls and apple pie on the table in the kitchen?”
The oldest boy replied “I’m sure you have a good meal inside, but we don’t deserve any better than this. We have neglected you lately and this is all we have a right to expect. It’s good enough for people like us.”
The middle son also refused. “This is really not so bad, Mom. If you’ve never tried it you don’t know what you’re missing. Would you like to join us?”
The third boy confirmed the decision to stay outside. “I’ve talked it over with my family and we don’t believe you really have anything any better inside. You can’t prepare a meal like you described. We think you are lying to us.”
The foolish, ungrateful behavior of these children causes us to feel outraged. But we act in similar ways toward God when we refuse the banquet of blessings he has for us and accept, instead, the trash offered by the world.
God prepares a menu of blessings for us every day. (Psalm 23). He knows we don’t deserve it but He continually offers us the best He has. Of course we don’t deserve his goodness, but He chooses to bless us anyway. To say He cannot bless us is to deny his power. To say He has not or will not bless us is to contradict his word. When we live in guilt, ignorance and denial we are as foolish as the three sons.
I think that just before Jesus performed a miracle he often had a slight smile on his face…a hidden smile of anticipation. After all, He was about to do something good for someone He loved. He was about to give the joy of life or sight or health to an undeserving individual whose life would never again be the same.
He was a little like the small boy in the classroom whose teacher was about to unwrap the Christmas present he had given her. He believes it is the best present she would receive. He knows she will love it. As she starts to unwrap it he squirms in anticipation at his seat. He can hardly wait to do something nice for someone he loves.
Jesus was eager to provide healing for all those who came to Him. I think he really enjoyed it each time He restored health to them. We will never know how much energy each act of healing cost Jesus (Mark 5:30) but I will always believe He liked doing them.
To me the term “…poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3) means total humility, admitting that on my own I can do nothing (John 15:5.) God loves me regardless of my lack of talent, beauty, skills or possessions. In God’s system I have great value. I am a child in his family adopted through the death of Jesus on the cross.
In the world’s system a thing like this is unheard of. We are taught that we must do something or be something or have something before we are granted the status of “valuable or important.” But God says “You are valuable to me exactly as you are right now.”
Should we ever wonder how valuable we are to Him all we need do is look to the cross. Jesus died there to buy my eternal freedom from the consequences of my sins. God’s grace means love without accomplishment. It seems to be a crazy system, but it is the way God does things and I sure am glad.
God has allowed each of us some amount of earthly wealth. As we decide what to do with it we divide ourselves in one of three categories.
These people use their wealth to hurt other people. Their attitude seems to be “It’s all mine. You can not have or use any of it. In fact, if I can figure out a way, I’ll get a part of yours for myself.” They see people as objects to be used for their own benefit.
These people are too busy to find ways to use their money for anyone other than themselves. Their attitude is “Life is short. I don’t have time to be concerned about anything except money and what it can buy.” They don’t necessarily want more money, but they have to hurry in their efforts enjoy what they have. They simply do not see or understand the needs of others.
To these folks, wealth is a gift from God. It is intended to be used by his children to benefit others. “What is mine is really ours and I will share it with you when I see your need. How can I help?” They are continually looking for ways to use their wealth to further God’s kingdom.
God will never ask us “How much money do you have” but He will call us to give an account of “Where and how did you get it” and “What are you going to do with it.” We need to be sure He will be pleased with out answers.
When I concentrate on being a friend of God, I am blessed. When I concentrate on being a friend for God, others get blessed, too.
What does God look like? Anything He wants to, anytime He wants to, for as long as He wants to.
Because we are future residents of heaven we can get overly-involved in all the details of the place. We talk about gates and lampstands and thrones and living creatures and harps and scrolls. We must remember that the glory of heaven is not in the place that is heaven but in the presence that is in heaven….the presence of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.