Imagine being engaged to a wonderful man; when your world gets turned upside down by an angel. The angel tells you not to be afraid that you have found favor with God and that you will conceive a child through the Holy Spirit. That this child is going to rule over the house of Jacob and His Kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:32)
I must admit, if this were me, I would have started asking a lot of questions. Not Mary, she said in Luke 1:38, “I am a maidservant of the Lord let it be done as you have said.” I often wonder what was going through her mind when she heard that her son was going to rule over the house of Jacob and that the Kingdom would have no end. I know I would probably be thinking of riches that might be part of that Kingdom and recognition, and let's not forget being the mother of a hero who overtook the Roman government and reestablished the house of Jacob and Israel.
We can fast forward the story, and we know that's not what happened at all.
Jesus spent 33 years on earth. Three of those years were spent teaching 12 men, and these guys weren't scholars of any sort; they were fisherman, a tax collector, and one was going to betray Him, which would end up in His death.
Though the Jewish community was looking for an earthly king, Jesus came to be an eternal or heavenly king. To take away our sins once and for all.
I can't imagine how Mary felt the day she watched her 33-year-old son die a terrible death at the hands of the Jewish community that the religious leaders instigated. (Mark 14:55) I know that I would be weeping and screaming and fighting to get near him and try and comfort him. I hurt just thinking about the pain she must have gone through that day.
The day that Jesus died, the day He was beaten, a crown of thorns was smashed into His head. He was whipped and made to carry a cross naked up a hill to Calvary, where they nailed His feet and hands to it before lifting it into place. The pain and humiliation He must have felt all for me—all for you. (Matthew 27:28-55)
I am very thankful for what Jesus did for me. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it's not enough to be thankful. I myself have to be willing to die. Jesus states that if we are to follow him, then we need to be willing to take up our cross. (Mark 8:34; Matthew 10:38)
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must become willing to offer our lives even to the point of death in obedience to God and His will. According to the Bible, the way to do this is by repenting our sinful ways and following God with all our hearts. Our focus must be on the cross, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. For just as Jesus died and then received life through God’s power so we must put our sinful ways and desires to death and obey and trust God. We must put Jesus first, not our own or the world’s deceitful wisdom and ways. Our hearts should desire to please and obey God, putting ourselves and the world second to Him. It requires us to shed our old selves and the slavery to the world that accompanies it and put on Jesus and the freedom that comes in obedience to him, enabling us to become bold and stand firm for God and against the world. (Romans 12:1-2 and Romans 6:6)
This isn't easy, and I struggle with it daily; in fact, as I write this post, I am struggling with it just a little. I am new at this blogging thing and don't have many hits or people looking at my website yet, so writing a post about dying to self and living one hundred percent for God in this day and age probably isn't going to go over, too well. But if I truly love Jesus Christ and am truly a follower of His, that means doing things that aren't very popular and may even cause me some trouble. But that's the price that I have chosen and am willing to pay for Christ. The great thing is He will reward me, it may not be here on earth, but my reward will be better than anything I can receive here on earth. (Col. 3:24)
I also want to say that there may come a time when you will have to decide where you stand and if living for Christ is worth dying for. There is a verse that talks about a man willing to die for a friend. Jesus died for all of us born and unborn, friend and enemy. Are we willing to do the same? (1 John 3:16)
I think Paul the apostle says it best when he states that to live is Christ but to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21) When we are willing to follow Jesus and deny self, which also means to deny this world, we are working toward a reward far bigger and better than we could ever get here on earth, which is temporary.
It’s important to understand that choosing to be a true believer in Christ Jesus means that we aren’t going to be popular with the world. Jesus told His disciples that there would be trouble in this world but that He had overcome the trouble. (John 16:33) He also stated that we are blessed to be persecuted for His name. (Luke 6:22-23)
As you go forward, trust that Jesus is with you in the hard times when you have to die to self and go against all that this world says is okay to do. Dying to self isn’t easy; it is a new struggle every day. But when my eyes and heart are focused on Jesus, and I am daily meeting with Him and reading His word (the Bible), when the tough things come my way, I have the peace that passes all understanding. (Phil 4:7) After all, if God is for me, then who can be against me? (Romans 8:31-39).
(scriptures are from the NASB)