Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jesus Speaks on Death and Dying

When Sylvia and I got married, the minister commented that he had done as many weddings as he had done funerals. All of his funerals lasted. Not all of the marriages that he performed have lasted. One thing is for sure, we are all going to die once per lifetime. There will be no second chance to go back and do it over. If God were to call you today, are you ready to die for Him?
In Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 18:31-34, Jesus prepares the Apostles for His coming death. James and John's mother asks Jesus for preferential treatment for her sons. Jesus challenges their commitment and then informs everyone about how to have true greatness. Are you willing to die to yourself for Jesus?

We're All Going to Die - Matthew 20:17; Mark 10:32; Luke 18:31-32 Jesus and the Apostles are on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus will not leave the city and immediate area alive. He prepares the Apostles again, reminding them that He is going to die as the Old Testament prophesied.
Death is something that is going to happen to everyone who is conceived on this earth. Not even God's Son will escape the pain of dying. We need not lament that we are going to die, but be prepared so that we don't have to "get ready" if that moment should come suddenly.

Best Friends May Betray You - Matthew 20:18-19; Mark 10:33-34; Luke 18:33-34 One thing that makes this situation especially painful is that Jesus declares that He will be betrayed. He doesn't give any clue that it is one of the Apostles, but He knows. He does state that it will be unfair, cruel and final. Jew and Gentile will be involved in His death (murder).

How would you feel if someone that you were close to lied about you to authorities in a way that was quickly going to result in your execution? How would you feel if you knew this person was going to do that, days, weeks, even years ahead of the event? Could you tolerate having them in your company? Jesus did! No matter how much someone has hurt you in your life, you have never experienced the betrayal that Jesus endured!

Bargaining With God - Matthew 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-37 The mother of James and John comes to Jesus upon this announcement and, not realizing fully what she is asking, requests that they be given special honor in Jesus' Kingdom. She may have totally missed that Jesus is going to die and be expecting Him to set up a Kingdom in Jerusalem. That is what most of His followers are expecting from Him. Death is totally out of their minds. Whether she understands or not, she tries to bargain with Jesus for that special favor.

Most people who are dying go through a phase of bargaining for more time. All of us want some kind of "glory" or recognition. We will look to God or someone else for a special favor or title in hopes that it will give us a degree of life after we are dead.

Paying the Cost - Matthew 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39a Jesus responds to the request for James and John by asking them if they are willing to pay the price to have the honor. They declare that they are willing to do whatever is required in exchange for the recognition.

Nothing "great" comes without a cost. If you want a raise or promotion, you have to deliver more work or assume more responsibility. Although our salvation is not on such terms, privilege on this earth does require a responsibility and special commitment if we are going to receive the honor. Are you willing to die for Jesus, if necessary? Are you willing to pay the price of your life in order to maintain your eternal life with Him?

Jealousy in the Ranks - Matthew 20:24; Mark 10:39b-40 The other Apostles are a little upset at James and John for asking for special favor. After all, aren't they as good (or better than) those two?
Being jealous is a waste of time. You should use your talents for God and not compare yourself to others or complain because they have some talent that you do not have.

Dying to Self - Matthew 20:25-28; Mark 10:41-45 Jesus sees the resentment towards James and John and must now defuse the jealousy and wrong attitudes in the ranks. He tells them that the one who is truly greatest is not the boss, but the worker who is out there doing something for others.

Which is more important to you, getting the honor or serving the Lord? Is Jesus truly first in your life? If He is, what are you doing to help advance His Kingdom? Are you the best worker at your job? Does your integrity reflect Jesus' presence in your life? Is loving others and serving Jesus more important to you than getting recognition or controlling others? Are you willing to die to yourself (your selfishness) for Jesus?

God bless you and have a great week!

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