Has there ever been a time when you thought you knew Jesus very well, and then suddenly He seem to pivot and head in a new direction. At that time did Jesus seem quite different to you? Did the Jesus you knew suddenly seem like a contradiction to you? Was it because He was leading you in a direction that you did not want to go, or even want to think about?
The reason for His change lies in the severity of his call. Jesus is committed to the building of the Kingdom God, and his church. He is committed to the battle against all the forces that are against God and man, and He must have those associated with Him be just as committed. Jesus in his day gathered many people around him, and even today He gathers many people around him, but those who follow always find a strange sifting going on by Him. He is always asking, “Will you go where I’m going?”
Like the prophet Nehemiah who rebuilt Jerusalem with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other, so Jesus came to build and fight! Jesus says to anyone who follows him, “Deny yourselves, and take up My cross.” The battle Jesus is fighting will not be won by popular acclaim, but by solid building and hard fighting. Jesus asks, “Who is coming with me? Who will fight? Who will build?” If our answer is, “I will go!” Then we must be ready for change.
Jesus asked, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is” (Matt 16:13)? The disciples’ answer seemed as if they had taken a poll, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still other, Jeremiah.” Jesus knowing the answer fell short pressed the issue, “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s, of all people, stepped forward and answered correctly. “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
Two lesson arise out of this conversation. First, you cannot make a correct decision about Jesus by taking a poll. A poll is an accumulation of data which leads to a statement of what the majority of people think, but what the majority of people think is not truth. The decisions of a crowd can never substitute for a personal decisions, for a decision about Jesus often leads a person to stand against the crowd.
The other lesson is: A decision about Jesus must be made. Two of the three possible answers that can be given are: Deny Him, or proclaim Him. These are not simple answers, for the consequences of the decision a person makes about Jesus are eternal, but everyone who hears about Jesus must make a make a decision about Him. What is the third answer? Ignore Him. However, when you ignore Jesus you are making a decision against Him.
Let me close with this thought. It is not what you will do with Jesus, but in the end what Jesus will do with you!
As Christians we all want salvation to come to our country, state, city, community, and neighborhood. This is a great desire, but salvation cannot come unless the Gospel is preached. If we truly want salvation to come near to where we live, it is the individual Christian’s responsibility to take the Gospel into the places where they live; the stores where they shop, the schools that teach their kids, and the gyms where they work out.
However, salvation cannot come unless the gospel we preach is believed. Therefore the Christian must live a life that is different from the ways of the world. A life that is so remarkably different that it causes others to ask, “What is different about you?” To which we reply, “A great King rules my life! May I tell you about him?
Before salvation comes there must be repentance. There can be no hypocrisy, or hidden sin in the Christian’s life; it all must be brought to the King’s Cross. Without repentance we will never be believed; we will just be bells without clappers, and parrots repeating words.
Lastly, salvation cannot come unless it is declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. There is no other salvation offered to mankind except through Jesus Christ.
If we truly want salvation to break out in our community then it is up to the Christian to make it happen, for salvation is already here if we will just have it.