Lesson 9 -- second quarter 1999
May 2, 1999
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications
Jesus is life. Jesus wants everyone to partake of that life. And He knows this is possible only if individuals will choose Him. But people will not choose Him without being drawn by Him. And guess what it took to make this drawing possible and workable. Right; it took death. His death. Jesus is life, but He had to die. So that we might live.
Jesus came to be lifted up. No, not in the sense we usually think of when we hear that expression. He did not come to receive exaltation. He came to be lifted up...on a cross...to die.
Jesus has shown us that humiliation and death for the kingdom of God draws people to Him. He didn't merely tell us that, He showed us. Now we know better just how earnestly He wants us to have life. Does He expect us to learn and practice anything from His example? Of course!
Obviously I cannot go out and die in an effort to draw people to the Lord. My death would carry no significance nor impact nor efficacy compared to His. No further sacrifice for atonement and redemption needs to be made. His was final and complete. "It is finished," He said. Period. That's it.
Even so, my choice to daily deny myself in my relationships to others can indeed impact the relationship others have to Jesus. We must understand, though, that this self-denial must spring from our desire to lift up Jesus and from our love for other people. As we endeavor to communicate the Gospel of Jesus to others, the biggest hindrance surely must be our self. So if we deny ourselves, then the communication of that Gospel is clearer. And not only clearer, but more palatable to the listener.
So here is the next tough question we have to face: "Do I love others enough and do I want to exalt Jesus enough to deny myself enough?" I can get pretty wrapped up in myself, you should know. Reminds me of a piece of a song: "Can the world see Jesus when they look at your life?" If they cannot, must be self getting in the way.
How, then, shall I deny myself? Well, I have got to tell you that in the church and in society I find it much easier to deny myself than in my own home. And I am the dad! The head example, you know. So how are you doing in your home...as the child, as the sibling? This afternoon may well bring you a tremendous opportunity to press forward toward conquest or surrender in some relationship at home. My friend, choose the high road...which in the Way is way lower than most of us realize and practice.
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." I challenge each of us to put forth a conscious effort to lift up Jesus...by putting ourselves down...and out...to bless and encourage others. Is there any price too high to pay to forward the cause of redemption in the life of anyone? Certainly not self!
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