Saturday, April 07, 2007

What Does Christ Expect From You?

It took me many years before I figured out that Christ doesn't want anything from me in exchange for hanging upon the Cross. It's what He wants us to receive from Him. I didn't have a personal relationship with my Lord before I accepted Him into my life. I am almost ashamed to admit that Jesus to me was an amazing story from the Bible that gave us a reason to celebrate Christmas and Easter. I'm not sure even to this day why I didn't fully understand. I was raised in the Methodist church all my life. My parents were both active in their church community. They were both God fearing people and loved the Lord, but never stressed just what it meant for me on a personal level. I assumed that I could ride on their coat tails of being a Christian. But when I received His love and grace and mercy into my own life, I then understood that it was a personal choice, not one I was born into. I no longer think of Easter as bunnies and eggs and candy. It is the time to remember Christ for what He did for me because He loved me that much. He doesn't expect anything from me, there's nothing I can give Him. He wants everyone to receive His grace and salvation. He has already done it all, there's nothing left for me or you to do. It's in the power of His resrrection.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote this quote about God's love and I believe it explains the true meaning of His crucifixion.
"Men do hear the calls of Christ, but they are willfully deaf, because they think He wants them to do something. But He does not want anything of you; He wants you to receive what He has already done. He comes laden with mercy, with His hands full of blessing, and He knocks at your door. You have only to open it and He will enter in, and salvation will enter with Him."

Christ was God revealed on earth. He came not to be served as all earthly kings expect, but He came to serve. He was given all power and authority from the foundation of the world and His kingdom is not of this world. He was God incarnate to set examples of what true, unconditional love is. This love doesn't expect anything, only that we will receive it into our hearts. God wants to give to us~not take anything from us.

His death was the most anticipated event that God would fulfill. Everything from the Garden of Eden to the wilderness journey of the Israelites, to David's psalms and the prophetic messages of the prophets all pointed to God's plan of redemption which would require the spilling of blood of One Who was sinless but would take the sins of the world upon His own shoulders. This Sacrificial Lamb was Jesus the Christ, God's Son. He willingly hung on the Cross as a criminal, His body ripped open from scourging, His face beaten beyond human recognition, His beard hairs yanked from His chin. He endured the shame of being spit upon, called a blasphemer, a liar and made a mockery of in front of Roman citizens and fellow Jews alike. Thorns were dug into His skull and the people who just a few days earlier were offering Him praises and acolades. They turned Him over to die the most inhuman and humiliating death ever invented because of fear and ignorance. Could He have saved Himself from this? Of course He could've. But He went through with it because it was God's will to save a wicked world from sin and death and eternal destruction. Christ knew He would have to endure the pain for a little while, but the end results would be well worth it. He thought we were with it! It was love that kept Him from dying a premature death. For what He endured is only proof that He is fully God. It is medically proven to be impossible to live through such brutality. Even though He knew He would be denied by one of His own and betrayed by one who posed to be one of His own, His last act as a free man was to serve His disciples and to teach them what they were to pass on.

"When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, 'I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.' " Luke 22:14-16

As Jesus sat with the 12, it was the beginning of Passover. Before the night ended, He would be handed over to the Sanhedrin and the Romans for trials. They began by beating Jesus while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. This was no accident, it was God's timely message to the world. He already knew of the suffering He would have to endure, but still he reclined and served the apostles. This Last Supper would be the first Communion. We do this to this very day to remember Him and what He gave us. He was not just a man to be able to calmly sit there. This was God in the flesh!

Paul writes of this account as well as all four gospels, in 1st Corinthians. He is instructing the Corinthians on their conduct as they take the Lord's Supper. We don't take it becase of how good we are but rather how good He is. No one is good, no not one of us.

"But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, but because you come together not for the better but for the worse." 1 Corinthians 11:17

These people turned this sacred ritual into one of gluttony and drunkeness. They brought more than enough food but would not share it with the poor and hungry. They did all but what Christ had asked of them and still asks of us.

"And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' " 1 Corinthians 11:24-25

When Christ told the disciples to remember Him, He started the ordinance for worship. His sacrifice means that we should look back upon His atoning death, to give thanks and praise. Had He not been willing to obey His Father by drinking His cup of wrath, then we would all have to drink it and die. When Christ asks us to simply believe and trust Him through repentance of sins, why would we not be willing to receive the life that He died for us to have? Christ turned the cup of the Passover into the cup of remembrance for His sacrificial offering.

At this most holy of times, I pray that if you have never remembered our Lord Jesus because you never knew Him, you would invite Him into your heart today. The prayer is simple and life changing. Made a decision for Christ and live!

"Dear Heavenly Father, I am a sinner not worthy of giving You anything, please forgive me. I believe I am forgiven for all my past, present and future sins because I also believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ died on the cross 2,000 years ago to free me from sin and death and hell. He finished the work of the devil through the power of His resurrection and now sits in heaven at Your right hand. All power and authority have been given to Him and I am now Your child, not for what I have done, but what You have done. Thank You for loving me. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen."

If you prayed this and truly meant it, you are now born into the kingdom of heaven! Continue to grow in knowledge of Him.

Christ was prepared die in order that we would live.

Scripture taken from the MacArthur Study Bible~New American Standard version.

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About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
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