Scripture Reading: Galatians 5; Romans 8
Key Verse: Romans 8:5-6
It never fails that when anyone, whether Christian or non-Christian, considers the death of Christ on the cross they think of agony and misery. Even those who do not consider Jesus to be God in the flesh or to be the Messiah who has come to save His people still admire the sacrifice of Jesus and willingness to die such an awful death. As Christians, we most certainly are adamant in our recognition and belief that Christ died a gruesome, painful, and miserable death. We believe He suffered so terribly (the most terrible death ever experienced) due to the wrath of God that was being poured down on Him. Jesus took our punishment for us by taking on our sin which makes it now possible for us to take on His righteousness through faith in Him which in turn gives God the Father justice in declaring us innocent. Nevertheless, we primarily all can agree that the death of Jesus was miserable, agonizing, horrendous, unbearable, etc. As Good Friday is upon us and we ponder the death of Christ, I wonder how many of us will ponder on the death that we now go through on a daily basis as His followers. As Christians we are called to both death and life.
By placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, declaring Him as Lord of our life, we die to our sinful nature. Christ by the work of His Spirit has freed us from the bondage of sin and it now has no grip on our life. We are also called to die to ourselves daily. If we are truly to take up our crosses and follow Him each day, then this implies a daily denial of self and a daily intentional death of sinful and selfish behaviors and actions. For some reason people want to take this lightly. So often I see this verse tattooed on people or on some form of jewelry. This is a very popular verse among Christians and it is very marketable and yet I am not sure why. I feel that we don’t fully understand what Jesus is saying to us when He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Taking up your cross is equivalent to death. In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you want to follow me and be one of mine, it will require death.” You must die each day to yourself and your sin. How can this be easy? Do we all not boldly proclaim the agonizing death of Christ and what a gruesome and miserable event that was? When you watch the Passion of the Christ do you not look away during the crucifixion scene? You are correct when you shudder at the event of the cross. However, you should also recognize that the death that we are to go through daily in order to follow this same Jesus who died that terrible death is equally as agonizing and painful. Since when is death easy and pleasant? I can asssure you it isn’t. If dying to yourself is a nonchalant event that happens in your life and you do not agonize over your selfish desires as you desperately want them to flee from you while they remain then there is a problem. Death for you seems pleasant and easy. This representation of Christ’s death discredits His suffering. He suffered greatly for the great joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). Why gladly tell of a miserable death of this Jesus on Good Friday when the daily death to yourself and sin that you obviously claim to experience is so easy and light? If death to your sin and selfish desires is painless then shouldn’t the death of the One who has called you into this daily self-denial also be painless? Do not be mistaken on this Good Friday as we celebrate Christ’s joyful obedience on the cross. Realize that the death He has called you to is not painless but very painful. Realize that it is not easy to deny yourself daily but very difficult. Realize this death so sin and self is not light-hearted but agonizing.
Why should we go through this agonizing death? We should for the very reason Jesus Christ did: for a greater glory. We as regenerate believers have been given a new life by the life-giving Spirit of God. Jesus knew that there was reason to rejoice in His agonizing death and suffering for He would be ultimately glorified and lifted high above every other name. We too have reason to rejoice despite this painful death that we are to go through daily. We are called to die in order to obtain true life given us by the grace and love of God. It is a beautiful paradox that in our death to self and sin we are spared from eternal death and separation from God as we are given eternal life in His Son. Find great joy in your denial of self and daily death to sin as you too will be glorified in Christ Jesus when you eternally dwell in the presence of our Holy Triune God. In our time on earth, we will be sanctified on a daily basis and this daily death will only prepare us for true life as we are increasingly made into the image of Christ. Seek this and desire it. When suffering comes your way as a result of your death to sin and denial to self, rejoice gladly! You are being prepared for glory and I urge you, as our Savior King did, to take joy in the death that is inevitable for there is glory waiting and true life on earth that He has called you to. Never again take lightly the daily death process that we are to spiritually go through. Honor Christ by telling of His agonizing death and also tell of His work in your life as He has transformed your heart from death to life and because of this, you too must die an agonizing death on a daily basis as you live freely able to obey God becoming more like your Savior all the while. Rejoice in His death while rejoicing in your own daily death and self-denial for the glory of God and your own joy.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” – Galatians 5:24
By His Grace & For His Glory