Dying to self means giving up our natural instincts and taking on new, spiritual ones. Are we ready?
8:11 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold.
One of the most interesting passages in the Gospels to me is the scene where the official slapped Jesus in the face,
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”
I’ve always wondered what the official thought of Jesus’ question. In the Matthew account, here is what happened next,
63 …The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” [Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14]
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Jesus was demonstrating His own teaching,
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ [Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:38-39
Was Jesus serious about His teaching? His commitment? You bet He was! He was willing to die to prove it. But, Jesus knew what would be accomplished by loving His enemies. He knows what will be accomplished if we love our enemies, too. Here’s what He said,
35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
Jesus’ plan went beyond death. It still does. Ask any of the martyrs throughout our Christian history (we’ll have to wait until we get to where they are). We must see beyond our current circumstances, too. Do we stand by and allow people to hurt those whom we love? No. We put our lives between them and the aggressors. But, it’s not about safety on this side; it’s bigger than that. It’s about having victory on His side. Tomorrow, we will look at two reasons for Jesus’ demonstration of love.
Abba, help us to comprehend Your love. It’s bigger than this world can hold. How can we demonstrate a love like that? Only by Your Spirit in us, that’s how! May we give our lives over to You, Lord, and the lives of our loved ones (which is actually harder to do). We trust You completely. Amen.