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I’ve never noted before that the rejection delineated here in Jesus’ words focused in a singular way. Every element of rejection here focused its beam on leadership, on those responsible before God for the spiritual condition, spiritual path, of the people. Nowhere in these words does Jesus indicate a rejection by ‘the people.’ Yes, we know individuals rejected Jesus. But I wonder if there isn’t a point here I’ve been missing. God laid out a structure, a reflection of heaven so-to-speak, from which His people were to find Him. But man had taken that structure, tweaked it for himself...even from the earliest days (Eli’s own sons were corrupt and did not know God, yet functioned before the people as priests) ...until God no longer could be found present in it. Their rejection of Jesus, therefore, stood as an indictment of what this man-made entity had become. A godless caricature of bondage! That which God meant ‘kept pure’ had itself become the very contaminate of His people’s faith. Harbored godlessness will reject God, every time. Whether harbored within me or within an organization. We see no self-searching, no search for truth among ‘the elders and chief priests and scribes’. As individuals, some of them, yes; but coming together as a group seeking God’s revelation, no. They already ‘had their truth’ and would allow nothing to tamper with it.
Is there not significant warning in this for me? What have I taken of God’s and twisted and tweaked it in such a way that it no longer bears any reflection to Him? How has the organized ‘church’ of the day done the same?
Precious, Lord, how easily the 'heart of man' enters into Your work, with himself at the helm, and contaminates its purity. Ever keep in front of our heart, my heart, the truth that in You there is no darkness at all. Open my eyes to any darkness that has infiltrated what was Your work in my life, and lead me to reject it ... never to reject Jesus, never to add to His suffering.
The very next words of Jesus appear to confirm where God was leading my heart in what I wrote above. ...If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross daily, and follow Me....
The Greek for deny are very specific: 1a) to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone 1b) to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests
When Jesus walked here in obedience to His Father it was in the garb of self-lessness. All that was His by rights, all of Who He was, He left with the Father...He left at His home. Here He walked completely in the words and deeds of God, bringing nothing into God’s work.
The cross of self-denial does not come naturally woven into the fabric of my earthen vessel. It must be picked up, as a nature outside my own. But is this not what Jesus modeled before me? And is this not what He clearly calls me to? To follow Jesus, I am left no choice! To do otherwise contaminates, and ultimately kills, the effectiveness of Jesus in me.
Jesus, keep Your word ever fresh, ever renewing, in my life. And lead me daily to seek out You, to draw upon Your Spirit within me to pick up the alien cross of self-denial and find the courage to walk as You walk...in total obedience to the word and will of Your Father.
© 8 April 2005
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Thank you for this article DeAnna! We must do that soul searching or we may be causing grief to our Lord and not even know it. God allowed me to see that I was doing just that, by not being truly thankful for all that He has given me. He has convicted my heart and I am so grateful, if He had not, I probably would not have realized it. Yes, you are right it was the religious leaders that Jesus was so angry with, that is why it is imperative that we study the word for ourselves, and then no one can shake our faith.
May I daily lay 'self' on the altar of denial; sacrificing my desires, receiving God's mighty power, woven securely into my weakness. Wonderful and self-searching article.
May God continue to keep blessing your pen! - Nancy
Your words enlarge the responsibility we have with our 'gifts' that we use for His purposes and not our own, even though we may have our name attached to it, JESUS deserves every crown!
Thank you for your valuable teaching. You are anointed to share His Word through teaching. May He be ever increasing and me be ever decreasing in the Light of His Glory and Grace.
"...in total obedience to the word and will of Your Father." Self denial, in my opinion, is probably the hardest thing for us to achieve. I am so, so, so glad that all things are possible WITH God and that we can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens us. Powerful, powerful Word from the Lord!