Daily Sacrifice?!?

Sep 07, 13 Daily Sacrifice?!?

A Case for Daily Sacrifice

 

Definitions: (from www.dictionary.com)

Crucifixion: a method of putting to death by nailing or binding to a cross, normally by the hands and feet, which was widespread in the ancient world. (My note: At times in their history, the Roman Empire put hundreds of people, rebels to the Empire, on crosses lining their byways.)

Apostle: any of the early followers of Jesus who carried the Christian message into the world.

Disciple: a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower

Resurrected: to raise from the dead; bring to life again

Aphorism: a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation

Martyred: a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion

Bondservant: a person who is a slave.

 

The following bible verse often gets misquoted:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

It is a promise for the Jesus-follower only. 

I didn’t know that when I wasn’t a Christian. I thought it was a promise to me as well AND I thought it meant “good” as in a nice, cozy & fuzzy promise; definitely NOT related to suffering in any way because, you know, my nice fuzzy God won’t require THAT! 

Well, I was mistaken.  Peter, an apostle/disciple of Jesus Christ, knew the true meaning intimately.

In John 21:15-17, Jesus Christ is having a conversation with his disciples.  This is after he has been crucified, buried and resurrected.  Having just finished breakfast together, Jesus now turns to Simon Peter engaging him in a moving conversation.  (Depending on who is writing in the New Testament, Peter/Simon/Cephas all refer to the same person.  Jesus gave the man Simon the “nickname”: Peter in Greek or Cephas in Aramaic which means “rock”.)   Then as John records in his gospel starting in verse 18, Jesus prophecies over Peter: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

A good bible study or a good study bible is necessary to enlighten us so we do not miss the meaning behind this passage: “You will stretch out your hands” was a 1st century aphorism, which meant to be crucified.  Jesus states the entire scenario to Peter: you will be led against your will, you will be stretched on a cross and die and THIS will glorify God.

Christian tradition records that Peter was martyred through crucifixion in the 60’s A.D.  Not quite in the same method as Jesus though, where as Jesus hung upright from a cross, tradition states that Peter was granted his request to hang upside down as he did not want in any way to mimic Jesus’ sacrifice.  Tradition also states that this was after he had to watch his wife crucified.

Jesus had actually told Peter that this was the way he would die approximately 30 years earlier. 

Note that Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “Hey, you better be careful because if you aren’t, you’ll end up suffering on a cross too.”  Jesus didn’t tell Peter in order to warn him; it was just how it was going to be if Peter followed Jesus: he would suffer and die horribly but that it would be a good thing because it would glorify God.  Whoa!

It is kind of scary to realize that if we have pledged ourselves to God, as Christians, He takes our sacrifice as a given.

I think it is a given because He truly is the Shepherd who goes out looking for that one missing “sheep”, even though He already has the 99 safe.  It’s because He isn’t satisfied with 99.  If even one is missing, that is too many missing “sheep” for God.

(Matthew 18:12: “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?”) 

If God knows he owns you, that your salvation is secure, he’ll accept, even demand your sacrifice if it can be used to gather that one lost sheep to him.  And that is what He means by working things together for good.  It is often accomplished as a corporate good instead of an “individual” good.  I don’t get to have a warm fuzzy experience (perhaps the opposite) but someone else gets pulled into the eternal safety of Salvation as a result of whatever I go through.

It’s hard for us to fathom how Peter’s death would glorify God but even though Peter had time to ponder his death, he doesn’t seem to have dwelt negatively on it.  It was just a reality of his life and for any follower of Christ during those beginning years of persecution.  Peter had learned to trust God and His definition of Good.  In this case, it was for the corporate good and Peter’s death may have helped gather lost sheep (definitely his Christian walk did). 

He writes in his letter 1 Peter 4: 12-19:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

 

In fact, did you know that when Peter writes in this letter about the fiery ordeals, behind that was the physical reality that the current emperor, Nero, was using Christians as torches to light his gardens?  There WAS an actual risk of a fiery ordeal! 

Christians were daily faced with the reality of the cost of being a Christian and they knew that their sacrifice to worshipping THE living God was and is a required thing and was often realized through suffering.

We in the Western world have a distinct mindset that can be very positive but like anything that Mankind does, there is always a downside or negative ramification.  The Western world enjoys great freedoms and what a blessing but the Western world also celebrates & elevates the ‘Self’ and usually at the experience of others.  We see examples of this and don’t even realize that it permeates how we see everything.  One cultural example is divorce.  Now there are definitely valid reasons for some marriages ending through divorce, but in the Western world, if one or both of the spouses feel that they are not being fulfilled in the marriage-state, well, you just get a divorce.  We all know that “feelings” are very temperamental and subjective.  Look around.  It is too sad to count the dissolved marriages (and usually with children) due to one or both deciding to end the marriage contract for really no good reason.

This is a more blatant example but think about it and I’m sure you’ll see more evidences of this: Aren’t we just a bit too “me-oriented”?  Could our behavior please God, who has told us that nothing is as important than Salvation?  This is the God who desires that all people be saved and come to the Knowledge of the Truth: His son Jesus.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus is directly quoted, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

(So that He can use us against our mortal enemy, satan, and to pull deceived people away from their blinded trek to Hell.)

When Jesus said this to his listeners, living as they were in the Roman Empire, their minds instantly went to the scary and vivid reality of a Cross being dragged to the place where it was then fixed into the ground so that the person who dragged it there could die a shameful and painful death by Crucifixion.  

What Jesus was saying to these people was an ugly thing, which in essence is, in order to follow me, you have to willing die to your will, your comfort, yourself.  AND, the crazy thing is that after Jesus said this, He still had lifetime followers, many, many, who were martyred!  As we see from the example of Peter and others.  We are so blessed in our Western world to not be called to do really much more than to be less selfish and more service-oriented at the expense of our occasional comfort.  But often, we don’t even do this.

But this is the thing.  We were slaves to satan and Jesus gave himself as our ransom.  He bought us with his life so that we don’t HAVE to make a previously predetermined trek to Hell.  No wonder in the New Testament, that passages abound on how his followers looked upon themselves as Jesus’ bondservants, bought and paid for.

We need to surrender to Him and ask for His help in order to die and we need to do this daily and even moment by moment as the situation, battle, circumstance call for.

What has God called you to do this day?  Ask Him.  How will you be His Ambassador to the world, to your work place, to your friends, to your family, to your spouse and children?

 

 

 

 

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