Lets take a dip into one of the kernels of the message of Jesus.
John 10:17-18……..FOR THIS REASON THE FATHER LOVES ME, BECAUSE I LAY DOWN MY LIFE, THAT I MAY TAKE IS AGAIN. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”
The first question to ask would be this:
What was the life that Jesus lay down?
Christians say that the life that Jesus is referring to, is the life that he lay down on the cross.
But let us try and view things from a different angle.
If Jesus existed before he came down to earth……then he must have had a “life”…….before he was actually born on earth.
The life that he lay down……was the life that he left in heaven in order to come to earth.
This I can say is actually the only difference between Jesus and every other man that ever existed…….the fact that he came down from heaven.
But we are not in heaven right now……
So it becomes quite interesting when Jesus says this:
John 12:25……HE WHO LOVES HIS LIFE LOSES IT, AND HE WHO HATES HIS LIFE IN THIS WORLD WILL KEEP IT FOR ETERNAL LIFE.
From this it starts to become even more evident why the death of Jesus could never have been a sacrifice for sins.
Jesus is presenting something that is pretty clear.
Lets go back to go forward.
Jesus says that the reason why his father loves him…….is because he lay down his life in heaven in order to come to earth.
Then he says to us……If you love your life you will lose it……but if you hate your life in this world…..you will keep it……for eternal life.
Essentiallly……Jesus is asking us to do the exact same thing that he did.
Remember……”we”….did not come down from heaven like Jesus did.
“Our life” began here on earth…….
So the life that Jesus is asking us to lay down…..is life here on earth.
He is not saying that he is going to do the work for you……. But he has said that you have to do the work for yourself.
Lets put this within a context of what we have been discussing so far.
Jesus is saying…..you have to give up your life in this world…..in order to have a relationship with God (eternal life).
Two important questions come to mind?
Is Jesus saying that we should commit suicide?…….No
Now that we have that out of the way…..lets go to the more important question.
What exactly is this “life” that Jesus is asking us to hate and lay down?
The answer to this question……relies on a great deal of thought on the part of the individual.
For everyone knows…..what they consider to be “life”.
Matthew 16:25-26…….FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR ME WILL FIND IT. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Why is Jesus telling us this?
Can we not have both life in this world and eternal life as well?
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; A MAN’S LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST IN THE ABUNDANCE OF HIS POSSESSIONS.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.
17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “THIS IS HOW IT WILL BE WITH ANYONE WHO STORES UP THINGS FOR HIMSELF BUT IS NOT RICH TOWARDS GOD.”
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
23 LIFE IS MORE THAN FOOD, and the body more than clothes.
24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
25 WHO OF YOU BY WORRYING CAN ADD A SINGLE HOUR TO HIS LIFE?
26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
31 But SEEK THE KINGDOM, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
34 FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.
This is quite a deep statement that Jesus made here and it becomes important to understand the spirit behind what he is saying.
He starts off by saying a mans life “does not” consist of how many things he owns.
He says if you have many good things stored up for yourself…… and you are content and satisfied……one day you will die……..and it will all amount to nothing
Then he says something critical……”life is more than food”.
In its simplicity…..there is a lot of significance to this statement……considering the fact that food….. is what keeps a man alive.
Note the paradox.
So if life is more than food……..what exactly are these “other” elements of life that seem to be …..”Eternal”?
Then Jesus says……. “seek the kingdom”.
…………with time……maybe they will be answered.
26 “IF ANYONE COMES TO ME AND DOES NOT HATE HIS FATHER HIS AND MOTHER, HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN, HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS—YES, EVEN HIS OWN LIFE—HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.
27 And ANYONE WHO DOES NOT CARRY HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and ESTIMATE THE COST to see if he has enough money to complete it?
29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,
30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Part of what we are going to spend a lot of the time doing……is “estimating this cost” that Jesus is talking about.
Because we cannot begin laying a foundation……and then discover that we are not willing to finish the building because we find out later down the road that the cost is too expensive.
This is in effect a warning that you should not be surprised about how expensive it is to attain this “eternal life”.
So we will begin counting the cost…….
It is only when we have counted the cost and weighed it up with the value of attainment…… that we will be able to make a decision as to whether eternal life is something that is worth pursuing…..or not.
To be continued…..