Sunday, May 21, 2006

We Serve An Awesome God

We serve an awesome God, we serve a God that does not need us. God doesn’t need you and He doesn’t need me. God was God before He created Adam and Eve and if He were to wipe out this world today, He would still be God. But we serve a God who loves us and desires us. Our existence is not in any way critical to His existence but for some reason God finds it critical for us not only to continue exist here but also with Him in eternity. Although He does not need us, He desires us, and He desires us in such a way that He would even sacrifice His only son Jesus Christ to have us with Him. When I think of the sacrifice of Jesus, I immediately think of the cross and Him giving Himself for my sins so that I can stand blameless before the Father. And although I believe that this is the pinnacle of His sacrifice, His sacrifice really started some 30 years earlier when He stepped down from His throne with the Father and into the skin of a man to come and live among us. Jesus chose to live among us, to show us in the physical the Father’s love and what His will was. Before Jesus suffered death for us, He suffered life for us and before Jesus conquered death, He conquered this life. Following is an excerpt from the book “Reliving the Passion” by Walter Wangerin Jr. that helped me to see this. It starts by reading Mark 15:16-20. The words in red are the recorded words of our Lord while he lived on this earth.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:16-20)

Now the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the Praetorium).
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil.
And they call together the whole battalion, some six hundred soldiers, auxiliary troops recruited from the non-Jewish peoples of Palestine. “Recreation!”, they cry. “A little R-and-R!”
If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus has already been scourged with the flagellum. His back is bleeding. When they pull a purple robe across his shoulders, the blood soaks through. They weave a crown from the thorny branches from a nearby shrub. They stick this to his head, brow and scalp.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
The soldiers began to salute him in a raucous mockery of high office, hooting, “Hail, you King of the Jews!”
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you salute your friends alone, what more are you doing than others? Even sinners do the same.
And they strike his head with a staff, pitiful sign for a scepter.
Judge not, and you will not be condemned.
And they turn and spit on Him.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
And when they grew weary of the game, they strip him of the purple robe (a mantle belonging to some nameless Roman soldier) and put his own clothes back on Him.
Blessed are you when men hate you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you…
And so those who led him into the palace now lead him out again to crucify him.

We serve an awesome God. Jesus asks us to serve one another only after He lowered himself and washed the feet of 12 men. Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him only because He was willing to take up His and pursue us. We serve an awesome God because He served us first.

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