Identification with the death of Jesus

God will clearly show me everything I need to learn in the school of obedience if I’m willing to obey Him, but He will not force me to live the crucified life.

Because I’m no longer able to attend church I have my own communion service, (a piece of soda biscuit and grape juice) with the Lord on the first Sunday of each month.  I begin with the warnings (1 Corinthians 11:23-32) and instructions – going through them carefully – examining myself thoroughly and asking the Holy Spirit to search my heart and reveal anything I need to deal with.  Then I read the account of the Last Supper from one of the Gospels.  Last Sunday it was Matthew 26:17-50.

I joined the disciples at the table to observe and listen to the Words of Jesus.  His Words brought fresh impact and deeper meaning to me.

(21)  As they were eating in apparently good fellowship – Jesus dropped a bomb - - - One of you will betray Me!

(22)  Shock!  Horror!  Disbelief!  Who – who – who could possibly?

(25)  Judas said – it is surely not I, is it Master? – Just like all the others were asking – still trying to fit in and cover up.  Doesn’t his hypocrisy set your teeth on edge?

(23-24) Come with me to (John 13:26-27) to fill in this situation – listen – watch.  Judas heard Jesus say – the one to whom I give this morsel after I have dipped it in the dish.  When Jesus handed it to Judas he had to reach out his hand to take it – and – he reached out his hand and took it.  Was that his last opportunity for forgiveness or was it already too late?  With those words still ringing in his ears, he went out into eternal night.  Will he hear those words forever?  I think that is when the door clicked shut on Judas forever.  His greed so rules him that Satan entered into him and took possession of him.  The words of Jesus have as much great and final power if the door clicks shut or slams shut.  Forever too late – too late for anything except remorse, death and eternal torment.  The disciples didn’t suspect Judas then but my knowledge of the facts made me want to be His disciple.

(26)  I watched closely as Jesus took bread, prayed and then broke it and told us that it represented His body which was to be sacrificed for us.  When He passed out the bread – by faith I reached out and took my piece of soda biscuit directly from His hand.  I was very somber and filled with wonder.

(27-28) He took the cup and gave thanks.  Again by faith I reached out to take my grape juice directly from His hand because I was longing to touch His hand.  This was a symbol of His Blood – His rich – red – royal covenant Blood – to be poured out so we could be forgiven.  Doesn’t a covenant have to be between two?  Yes and it was.

Was it human blood?  Yes – Jesus was man

Was it Divine Blood?  Yes – Jesus is God.

The shedding of His Blood meant the Father would be faithful to His promise (1 John 1:9) to His Son that when Jesus had paid in full for all of us – God could only be forgiving us. To not forgive would mean that God would have to unjustly break His promise to His Son – and that is impossible.  If we truly confess our sin and come to Him in repentance – it has nothing to do with our undeserving and unworthiness but is totally based on the full atonement – complete and finished once for all – accomplished by Jesus.  Justice is served and we are forgiven!

I looked around the table and could see that the disciples were very sad and grieving at the thought of Jesus dying.  I have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now.

(30)  Jesus actually led them in singing a hymn even though He knew all that was going to happen to Him.

(31)  Who said – I will smite the Shepherd?  God!  (Zechariah 13:7)

(34)  Jesus said - (35) Peter said – A huge discrepancy between their words.

(37)  Took Peter with Him.  Does that shock us?  No, because we know now what Jesus already knew then.  That one day Peter would become all and more than he boastfully imagined himself to be then and never could be.  Really?  When?  At Pentecost.

(38)  Almost dying of sorrow.

(39)  But He stayed there – not on His knees but on His face.  The sheer determination of His will to obey His Father no matter the cost.

(40)  Said to Peter.  While sorrow was almost killing Jesus, Peter was overcome with sleep – an escape from his grief - - but no escape or even support for Jesus.

(45)  The hour has come.  Not an hour but THE hour - the God-appointed time planned and set before the foundation of the world.

(45)  Especially wicked sinners.  Weren’t the screaming mob who yelled “crucify Him” wicked sinners?  Weren’t the Roman soldiers who mocked and tortured Him wicked sinners?  The religious leaders.  Why?  Of all people they knew the scriptures better than any.  They had studied and poured over the more than 300 prophecies concerning Messiah.  Everyone fulfilled totally and completely in Jesus thousands of years later.  The odds of that happening are beyond astronomical.  I think they wanted Jesus dead and gone not because they didn’t know Who He was but because they did know.  With Jesus as Messiah and King, Ciaphas could see the end of his significance and position as high priest.  So - - away with Jesus.  Because the religious leaders knew the truth their actions were in deliberate, direct opposition to Almighty God.  (If I disobey known truth I am acting in opposition to God and that is a dangerous place).

(49)  The kiss of Judas – revolting – abhorrent – repulsive hypocrisy.  Makes my skin crawl.  Hypocrisy is pride, the liar trying to hide the truth about himself.  The Judas kiss is an expression often heard.

If you walk into my apartment and find me stone-cold dead on the floor, you will know that I can never again be independent – never have control – make no personal choices.  If I choose to be identified with the death of Jesus – I surrender all independence – all control over my life, possessions, circumstances and deliberately sign away all my rights and liberty of choice.  If I am conformable (Philippians 3:10) to His death then I am His slave and no longer free to sin by obeying the dictates of the flesh.  I can never fully experience the power of His resurrection until I am transformed into the likeness of His death.  In so far (1 Peter 4:13) as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings.

Oswald Chambers  “Only when we are related to Jesus can we be prepared to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings.  God’s way is always the way of suffering.  No shortcuts – the way of the long, long trail.”

God will clearly show me everything I need to learn in the school of obedience if I’m willing to obey Him, but He will not force me to live the crucified life.  IF anyone will follow Me (Luke 9:23) IF you would be My disciple.  This is about absolute loyalty to Jesus.  Complacent or committed?  I think the following quote fits well here.

Dr. Chuck Swindoll  “If I truly desire to be a disciple, God has a purpose for me and that purpose included God’s plan – not mine.  His plan always involves a cup and that cup contains pain.  Shall I not drink (John 18:11) the cup the Father gives me?  For every pain endured, there’s a victory to claim”.

Dr. C. Stanley  “We know that God (Psalms 102:27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17) has not – does not – will not – cannot change, because God never changes, the promises He gave to His N.T. Church are still the same for His Church to-day.  So why aren’t we doing now what they did back then?  God hasn’t changed but sadly and dangerously many Christians and church assemblies have changed - - and exchanged their unchanging God for the constantly changing gods of this world’s culture.  This is why our young people grow up in spiritual famine”.

         Perishing!  Perishing! Thronging our pathway

         Jesus would save but there are so few to tell them.

We have read wistfully of the great revivals of past times and wonder why no more.  God has not changed, His power is not diminished and He still (2 Peter 3:9) is not willing that any should perish.  I feel a strong inner sense that this is a call to prayer.  Jesus said (John 14:12-13) if anyone steadfastly trusts in Me he’ll be able to do the works I do and greater works.  How?  By prayer and because He went to the Father.  He now has many more believers to work through – and I Myself will grant anything you ask SO THAT the Father will be glorified in the Son.  We know that the Holy Spirit will guide and empower all prayer for this purpose.

Let’s pray that God will send a revival which will awaken our half-dead sleeping churches and alert to these urgent times all of us who in selfishness have chosen carnality over consecration.  Obey – trust – pray – and His promises are guaranteed.

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