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The road less travelled - Calvary.

Rev Steve - 31 Jan 2016


 

Have you ever walked into a conversation half way through only to miss the point of the discussion, well within Luke 18 we read, impart, a conversation Jesus had with His disciples, but the full script is found in Matt 16 where Jesus not only predicts His death and resurrection but gives the required application to would be disciples, that is, in short, we are called to travel the road less travelled to Calvary, as when Jesus calls us, he bids us ‘come and die’. Encouraging isn’t it?

You see we can’t expect to live the Monday resurrection life without first dying on the good Friday. Before we can wear the crown of righteousness we must first wear the crown of thorns. This is the fundamental core of the Gospel. but, in order for the modern church to exist we have reproduced what is known in the trade as a ‘dud’ this “false gospel” simply doesn't work, it’s faulty because it’s artificial, simply put it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here within our passage is.

In order to survive within the market place of secularism, the western Church has diluted, compromised and reinvented a gospel that says: ‘Come as you are and stay as you are’, whereas Jesus says “come as you are but don’t stay as you are” hence His conversation with the churchman nicodemus “YOU must be born again.…

Like Nicodemus, once we have discovered who Christ is, we are left with a life challenging choice, either we accept His call to ‘take up our cross’ or like the rich young ruler, we walk away, but let us not bring an injustice to Jesus when we produce a third option of following Him moderately, He didn’t leave that forus, as Revelation 3:16 says: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth” and yes, that is Jesus speaking. 

Here in our Lk passage Jesus doesn’t spin doctor the truth, he makes it very clear without any misunderstanding what is implied in the original greek applies to English: “If ANYONE desires to come after Me, let him deny self, and take up His cross and follow me.” It’s hardly the best campaign speech for gaining voter followers is it?

Deny self, die to the world and follow Jesus. When was the last time, or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard a message informing you that if you want to associate with Christ, then you have to lay EVERYTHING aside and be willing to be put to death self, put to death worldly ambition, put to death personal goals and visions, put to death a contradictory lifestyle, contradictory affiliations, put to death a hypocritical character, put to death sin and possibly, as is the case for many today, actual be put to death through martyrism 

Was we told this when we signed up to become a committed follower of Jesus. Is this really what he requires from us, surely His death was enough, why should we have to make up for the difference? Surely He did enough at Calvary, after all, every week we proclaim, “one oblation, made once for all, a perfect sacrifice..” the fact is we could never add to Christ’s redemptive work, but only fulfil our response to His work.

“You see” said German pastor, author and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer when Jesus calls us he bids us come and die” sadly Bonhoeffer would fulfil those very words as he was martyred by the Nazis two weeks before the end of the 2nd WW. 

Here’s the thing, many are fearful of so much, but if your already dead in Christ then whats there to fear, all isis can do is kill the flesh and send us straight to glory, we should be more fearful of our souls being put to flight. 

It is because of Jesus’ agonising torture and death and that we can only respond by way of total submittance, this is our acceptable act of worship to God - Rom 12 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The discipleship that Jesus seeks is a paradox , to lose life is to find it; to die is to live. To deny oneself is not to assume some false asceticism, but to put the interests of the Kingdom first and foremost in one’s life. To take up one’s cross does not mean to endure some irritating burden, but to renounce self-centred ambitions and such sacrifices results in eternal life and the fullest experience of Kingdom life NOW as well as in the future Mark 10:30 “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or family or lands, for my sake and the Gospel’s who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time….and in the age to come.

An innocent man named Jesus deliberately allowed himself to be lead to slaughter for our sake, he was beaten to a pulp, whipped to shreds, hung and pierced for a guilty world, What is our reponse? “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb, if I were a wise man, I would do my part, yet what can I give Him, give Him my heart…” May this be said of us. Amen.

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