Bible Reading: John 20:19-23; Luke 14:25-33
Today I want to begin to answer the question, “How did the Father send Jesus?” This is important because the way that the Father sent Jesus is the way that He commissions and sends us.
Firstly, the Father sent Jesus to lay down His life for those He came to save.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and He knew that it would mean death on a cross. Jesus chose to lay down His life because it was the Father’s will. His delight was to do the will of His Father. He had no other will. He laid aside His reputation [what a word in a generation that speaks so much of entitlement], and His rights as God [Philippians 2:5-11].
Just as the Father sent Jesus to lay down His life for those He came to save, so He sends us to lay down our lives for His sake and for the gospel. For many that meant martyrdom because they were faithful to Jesus. There is, however, another aspect to this matter of dying. Watchman Nee wrote in The Normal Christian Life, that to be a Christian means, “I no longer live! Now it is Christ who lives His life in me.” Ben Davies from Bracknell said in a recent sermon, “We either die to ourselves, or we die within ourselves.” The heart of real Christianity is a process of death to the self-life. A young man recently wrote to me and said that he had been reading a book on the subject of being, “crucified with Christ.” He asked me why he had not heard any messages in church about this!
Consider what the cost of mission and following God’s call meant to the Apostle Paul. He speaks of beatings, prison, facing death, shipwrecks, peril, weariness, cold, and weakness [2 Corinthians 11:23-28].
When Jesus became popular He challenged those following Him to take up the cross. In our reading today from Luke’s Gospel Jesus uses the phrase, “Cannot be My disciple” three times [Luke 14:25,26,33]. To follow Jesus means to take up the cross. He must be Lord of all our relationships [v.25]. He must be Lord of our ambitions [v.26]. To take up the cross meant death. There was no turning back. He must be Lord of our Possessions [v.33]. God gives us, “all things richly to enjoy” [1 Timothy 6:17], but they still belong to Him.
The Father sent Jesus to lay down His life. Jesus sends us in the same way. For Him it meant a cross, but for us it will at least mean a death to the self-life.
What does it mean to take up the cross and follow Christ?
Read Galatians 2:20. In what way does Christ now live in us?
Although Jesus demands everything, what does He give us in exchange?
Does the Holy Spirit challenge you in any particular area of your life that is not surrendered fully to Jesus? If so, what will you do about it?