The ministry of Jesus was comprised of one astounding event after another. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He created food out of nothing. He walked on water. He calmed the storm. He cast out demons. He confronted the political and religious leaders of His day in debate after debate and won confrontation handily.
Yet nothing was quite so remarkable about the ministry of Jesus as the way in which it ended.
Jesus allowed Himself to be killed. A man who could alter physical reality with a word, a man who could command angels and demons, a man who knew exactly what was going to happen and when – this man allowed Himself to be arrested, tortured, mocked, and executed in the most painful way possible.
He said about this event, some months before it occurred, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18; ESV)
On the third day following His death, He rose from the dead, proving the statement “I have authority to take it up again.” That resurrection was likewise an astounding event, but, upon reflection, perhaps not quite as astounding as the willingness of Christ to die in the first place, for, as one commented once, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8)
But that the Son of God should be willing to die on our behalf, to suffer so: that is mind boggling. He knew that His death was the only way by which we could find salvation (cf. Acts 4:12) and so He willingly went to the cross.
Jesus told His followers, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:28) Its hard for men to think this way. We rationalize that it is normal, natural and right to be afraid of death. In this fear, faith falters, and hope fades. But Jesus, full of faith, hope, and love (cf. Hebrews 12:2) endured the cross on our behalf.
Of this, the apostle Paul wrote: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8; ESV)
Let us keep all this in mind, that Christ, in love, considered our salvation important enough to die for. Our need for salvation was of such importance that Christ was willing to be beaten, mocked, tortured and crucified on our behalf. And with that in mind, let us ask ourselves how important is our own salvation to us?
What sacrifices are we willing to make in order to receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life?
Jesus, speaking of those who were wise in such matters said, “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46; ESV) The apostle Paul understood this, and made the claim, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11; ESV)
Far too many don’t have such an attitude. The argue with themselves that Christ really isn’t looking for commitment, though Christ Himself said otherwise (cf. Matthew 16:24) They think that it’s a commitment that can be made later, though Christ warns they need to be ready today (cf. Matthew 24:44) They hold on to the things of this world, fearful of death and the loss thereof, but unwilling to make the choices that would give them life. (cf. Matthew 16:25)
Christ thought our salvation was important enough to die for. We have to ask ourselves if we take it as seriously as He did.
If you would like to learn more about the salvation that Christ offers, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.