Friday, December 29, 2017

74 - A Treasured Life is a Waste

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 
For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it. 
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul? 
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to each according to his works. 
Assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Mat. 16:24-28.

Christ, our example


If anyone desires to come after Me.  The choice belongs to the human. Jehovah's act of predestination will not decide for anyone whether or not he or she will follow Christ. 


Let him deny himself; Some in the church have taught that if we will follow Christ we must give up all pleasures; deny ourselves everything except the barest essentials to stay alive. If we do that we become useless in this life and probably not fit for the next.

That Christ enjoyed some of the pleasures of life is shown by the fact that he enjoyed the companionship of friends; both male and female.  He enjoyed going to public affairs, and while there, being of some service.  He enjoyed eating and drinking so well that those that hated Him even accused Him of being a glutton and a tippler.

As society changes, so do the pleasures of life.  Christ never needed to ask Himself "what may I watch on TV" but, in this situation, we can always ask ourselves, "What would Jesus watch?"  It is safe to surmise that the shows He would watch would not include violence or blasphemy!

let him ... take up his cross, and follow Me.  For some who take a stand for Christ, the situation may arise where they are publicly shamed, tortured or even killed.  To them, Christ says, follow my example.

Death to Self is Essential


whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it.  This is the irony of life.  If we hang on to what we have we cannot go any further but to the extent that we give ourselves in the service to others we ourselves find a new reason to live.

Christ said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24.   Without dying to our own selfish desires we will never bear the fruit of service to others and consequently never attain our potential.  Our pastors have taught us that in order to follow Christ we must learn religious words and know when to say them; Christ's idea of true Christianity was much more "hands-on".

Here is an interesting biological fact: Before a crawling caterpillar can become a gorgeous butterfly the caterpillar in the cacoon must completely change into a soupy mess.  To all appearances, it has become totally and forever wasted.  However, out of that seemingly deranged mess emerges a butterfly which can still remember exactly on which milkweed it began as a butterfly one generation ago.  The point of the story: death to self-precedes a beautiful life.

what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?  If you insist that you will spend your life getting rich, maybe you will or maybe you won't, but in the end, you will have wasted your life for short-range indulgences.

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels. This is a promise that Christ made many times and the Christian church is looking forward to that event in spite of the fact that it is then that He will render to each according to his works.  Notice again that Christ did not say that we will be rewarded for having the right "statement of faith" or for attending church regularly.   He said that we would be "paid" according to our works.

Will Some Disciples not Die?


there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  As is usual, in almost all aspects of Bible study, there are a number of different opinions as to what it means:
  1. This refers to Christ's Transfiguration which is the very next episode recorded in the Book of Matthew.  In that story, three of His disciples saw Him in His kingdom.  Guzik holds this theory.  This, however, does not seem like the right interpretation, one reason being, none of His disciples died before that happened but Christ had indicated that some would.                                                                                                       
  2.  Some say that this happened when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.   And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see the Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews. [John Wesley]  The old covenant: slaughtering animals as sacrifices, worship in the temple, etc, all came to an end and, with the Jewish religion out of the way, the New Covenant, The Church, could take its place. 

  3. The reference, beyond doubt, is to the firm establishment and victorious progress, in the lifetime of some then present, of that new kingdom of Christ, which was destined to work the greatest of all changes on this earth, and be the grand pledge of His final coming in glory. [JFB]   According to this theory this new kingdom would have started on the Day of Pentecost when the spirit of God descended on the earliest Christians and the Church was born.  It did spread rapidly, for a little while, before the last of the disciples had passed away.
Throughout our studies, we have seen that Christ preached the Gospel of the kingdom, here it is surmised that that kingdom is found in the people who decide to accept Christ as their Redeemer; He is the King of that kingdom.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." Luke 17:21.  Or, as the KJV has it, the kingdom of God is within you
                                                 
From Biblical history, we know that Judas was dead before the day of Pentecost.