08
Apr
12

What he suffered for us

Three things struck me when reading through Mark’s account of the passion.

And when she saw Peter warming himself. . . — Mark 14:67

This seems like a pretty minor point, but right before Peter denied Christ he was found trying to stay warm. There’s nothing wrong with staying warm, or wanting to stay warm. It is a necessary thing. But we know, even if it’s just a chilly night, when a guy is walking with a girl he should offer his jacket, placing her comfort above his own. Yet here we find Peter with his master and Lord, who is more than chilly. His very life is at stake here, and yet Peter’s thoughts are turning to himself.

There was really nothing Peter could do, but it seems strange that his thoughts were not so consumed with the fate of his Lord and friend that he even considered his own coldness. And when his thoughts turned to himself the temptation came. He was tried to see whether he would consider his Savior or himself first. Three times he placed himself first.

Truly, wanting to stay warm is such a small thing. But when I start to place myself first, even in the smallest things, I soon find I’m forgetting God in things that really matter. When I ask God “why did I do this again?” I can almost always look back and see at the start I was spending a little too much time finding funny things on-line, or chaffing against policies at work that cause needless work. Those little indulgences of self soon lead to bigger ones.

Similarly, before Jesus’ capture He finds Peter sleeping. “Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour?” In Jesus’ words I can’t help but think back to Peter’s bold declaration that he would stand by Jesus though all others should fall away. And yet his big declaration quickly fell before little temptations of being tired and cold. If I truly hate the big sins, then I should hate the little ones even more. And I should not wait until the big challenges come before appealing to the power of Christ in my weakness.

The second point was how Pilate deferred to the people in regard to Jesus’ fate. Though not touched on in Mark’s account, it brought to mind how Pilate washed his hands of his act. Yet Pilate was the only one who had the power to release Jesus. He washed his hands of the decision, and yet he was the only one who could make it. He alone had authority from Rome, and he alone could condemn a prisoner to the cross. Likewise, there is only one person who has power in the decisions of our own lives, and that is us. Others may try to sway us, but ultimately the responsibility is ours.

Will we let others make our decisions for us? Will we let them make our decisions about Christ and things of eternal consequence? We have to make decisions every day for Jesus. It is not just accepting him into our lives, but allowing him to lead our lives each step of the way. I know that he has led me well so far, and I want to continue to choose Jesus and choose him in all things.

The last point always strikes me, and hopefully always will.

Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. –Mark 14:35.

Jesus had to suffer so much for our salvation. Yet in His moment of prayer His thoughts are turned away from Himself. Even knowing His Father could take away the cup, for all things are possible with God, He is willing to submit to His will not to take it away.

This puts into such stark contrast the actions of Peter, of Pilate, and of myself. Christ was willing to undergo far more than the loss of a little sleep, getting a little cold, or an angry populace. He suffered scourging, crucifixion, and death all for me. Yet how often am I unwilling to suffer what we would laugh to even call “suffering” for Him, even knowing it is what is best for me?

But the encouragement is that Jesus died not just to show a stark contrast with our lives, condemning us. Rather he died that we may live with him being freed from sin.

Know ye not , that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. –Romans 6:3-11

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