With over 30 years under my belt as a Christian…it’s only with sincere thankfulness and gratitude I can proclaim that it’s only by the grace of God I am what I am today. For it’s only by God’s unearned and unmerited favor that I have been changed…justified freely by His grace through the redemption that comes through Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24) And I strive daily to show Him that the grace He lavished on me was not futile or a waste of time…for this grace God showed me – I need to be passing on freely to others.
Jesus had called Lazarus from the grave, and out he stumbled. But he was still bound by the grave-clothes wound around his body and face. Others had placed these winding cloths on him, and now it took others to free him from them. When we become a Believer we are raised from the dead unto eternal life, but for many of us, we continue to wear the trappings of the tomb. These hindrances cling to us like grave-clothes, impeding our movement forward and blinding us from the truth. And just like Lazarus, it was someone else that placed them on us, binding us up in sin, addiction, and pain. So it takes others to free us from these grave clothes…to come along side to encourage, exhort, and unloose the sins that still bind us to the past.
Without hesitation I know you’d answer a resounding “Yes!” to my question of whether you’d die for your spouse or children. But if we look closely at this verse, we’re not being asked to do that. Rather, we’re being directed to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians . OK wait, you want me to sacrifice for who? My family is one thing, but a neighbor or friend or somebody I hardly know at Church…I don’t know if I can do that. But when Jesus died on that Cross He didn’t pick and choose who He was dying for…He died for all. In John 10:11 it says, ” I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” To love one another with the Agape love that Christ first showed us is to be willing to be poured out like a drink offering for our brothers…regardless of who they are.
It says in Matthew 26:62-63, ” Then the High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against You?’ But Jesus remained silent.” In this hastily assembled kangaroo court, the priests, scribes and elders gloated in the fact that they finally had Jesus where they wanted Him. They had lined up false witnesses to testify against Jesus…but He wasn’t taking the bait. The High Priest believed that he was in total control of the situation…but he had no idea that he was simply a pawn being used by God within the annals of eternal redemptive history. Jesus had no reason to answer the High Priest… no need to justify or defend Himself. For the plan of salvation, created before the dawn of time, was playing out perfectly.
II Corinthians 13:4 tells us that Christ was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power. Man looks at the cross and see humiliation, shame, and scorn. They see Jesus powerless as He hangs there dying, seemingly unable to change His situation. But the world can’t comprehend that it was Jesus’ decision to be there. Just as the world can’t comprehend how three days later He rose from the dead. What the world sees as stupid…Believers see as salvation.
The Ethiopian eunuch had been reading Isaiah 53:7-8 when Phillip came up to his chariot and started telling him about Jesus. Phillip started with the verses the eunuch was reading but then added related verses…threading them together into the Gospel Message. This “stringing pearls of heaven” is an excellent way of telling others about Jesus, and one I have used for a long time. In the front of my Bible I have written the starting point of this 10 point Road to Salvation – Revelation 3:20. Next to each verse is written then the subsequent verse to go to – Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans:5:8, John 3:16-18, John 3:36, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12, II Corinthians 6:2. The result is a beautifully told story of need, salvation, and redemption and one you can easily use to share the Good News with others.
No matter how many animal sacrifices were made in the Temple…they never fully removed the people’s sin. It wasn’t until Jesus Christ gave Himself up as the unblemished Lamb of God that humankind was finally delivered from the guilt and punishment of sin. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” God offered His only son, Jesus, to take our place on that Cross. He died as an atonement for our sins…His blood being shed once for all. Which means He only had to died one time, not over and over again like the Temple sacrifices. For it was Jesus that took upon Himself the sins of the entire world that you and I might be redeemed and set free.