Matthew 20:24 – WHEN NOT TO PRESS SEND 

When a colleague, with no thought of careful collaboration, left me out of a decision-making process and went ahead with a choice I would certainly not have made, I felt indignant. I felt left out. Consultation would have been preferred.  

My annoyance found expression in a long email spelling out my simmering anger over the decision. This was my area of ministry! Why was I was ignored, passed over, left out entirely? I spelt out why I would not have made the decision. I was about to press the send button… 

A. Carson observes:“One of the ironies of language is that a word like ‘minister,’ which in its roots refers to a helper, one who ‘ministers,’ has become a badge of honour and power in religion and politics.”  

Matthew 20:24 (NLT) says, When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 

Salome had asked for places of honour for her sons, James and John in the coming kingdom.  

It seems the first shall be last and the last shall be first lesson had made no impression upon the disciples. Not for James or John and not for the other disciples. The other disciples were indignant. Were they jealous of the forthright nature of Salome, James and John, there blundering ability to express what everybody is secretly thinking?  

The indignation of the “ten” displayed the same spirit if not the same motive as the request of the sons of Zebedee. No matter how justified they thought they might be, it had the capacity to cause a rift 

What comes first, an argument or a relationship? Always a good question to ask. A rift in the relationships of His disciples is not what Jesus wants, especially at such a crucial time as this, just before He goes to the Cross. 

And it is this interaction with the disciples that Jesus uses to tell them about what it really means to be a follower of Christ. The perspective He imparts gives voice to the heart of the importance of relationship. 

When other people trigger off the worst in me, will I make a choice about how I respond? Will I be restrained by wisdom in my emotional responses to what other people say and do? Most of all, will respond to what Jesus is saying for my life? Will I hear His voice above the voices of others?  

I decided not to send the email. Better to calm down and preserve the relationship with my colleague by talking it though personally … later.  

Pastor Ross 

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The Holy Grail6

Quest for the Holy Grail © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender and Paint.net

Matthew 20:20-23 – A QUEST FOR THE TRUE HOLY GRAIL 

Simple but beautiful. Filled to the brim. Sought after through the centuries. Desired by the infamous SS and the Catholic Church alike, legends have developed about its whereabouts; is it in the caves of Montsegur, France or hidden somewhere in Oxford England or in a Chapel in Valencia Cathedral in Spain?

We all know that Indiana Jones found it in the caves of Petra and Dan Brown informs us with arrogant certainty, despite his distorted historical evidence, that it was a person, not a cup. He assures us it was not made of the wood of a Carpenter, clay from the earth, or silver and gold with embedded emeralds and precious stones, but of flesh and blood. He could be right in one respect, so let’s begin the quest for the true Holy Grail by reading from an ancient book which gives us clues …

COME, … 

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, comes to Jesus with her sons. She kneels respectfully to ask a favor” (Matthew 20:20 NLT).

Mark calls her Salome. John calls her Jesus’ mother’s sister. Matthew calls her, the mother of the sons of Zebedee rather than the wife of Zebedee. It’s obvious that Zebedee hasn’t been involved in this favor-seeking exercise and that Salome has raised these sons of thunder by herself. Perhaps Zebedee has died and is no longer in the picture at all.

So James and John are full cousins of Jesus. They feel connected to Jesus by family. They are ambitious, looking for personal reward and special honor, a cup running over with power and prestige, but do they expect success without sacrifice? The Holy Grail comes with an adventure and a price.

 WITH RESPECT …

Salome bows before Jesus as a king, but her understanding is limited to an earthly kingdom and her ambition for her sons crowds out any understanding of the cup for which she asks.

The brothers are willing to let their mother approach Jesus with this request. Do they think that Jesus would favor her more? All three of them have obviously spoken about this in private before coming to Jesus.

 AND ASK … 

“What is your request?” He asks. She replies, “In Your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to You, one on Your right and the other on Your left (Matthew 20:21 NLT).

Perhaps they think they have earned the right of positions of authority when Jesus, as the Messiah, takes up His role as King of Israel. Surely they can drink from the Holy Grail; the cup of power?

After all, James and John (and Peter) were present at the Transfiguration of Jesus and when Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead by Jesus. Surely that counts for something?

Adam Clarke suggests that Salome, James and John were thinking in terms of a new Sanhedrin being formed and they would be the supreme dignities in the great Sanhedrin. The prince of the Sanhedrin (Ha-Nasi) sat in the midst of two rows of senators or elders; on his right hand sat the person termed Ab (the father of the Sanhedrin); and on his left hand the Chacham, or sage. These persons transacted all business in the absence of the president. The authority of this council was at some periods very great, and extended to a multitude of matters both ecclesiastical and civil. These appear to have been the honors which James and John sought. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)

It is clear that Salome, James and John are interested in status rather than service, homage rather than humility, recognition rather than reaching out, power rather than God’s purposes, authority over rather than assistance to others. They wanted more to lord it over others than to love others in humble recognition of their worth to God.

 WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVES …

Jesus isn’t willing simply to grant any such request. Neither does He for us, but He gives us opportunity to verbalize what we are thinking in order to correct us and guide more surely towards His purposes so that we ask aright.

Lord, guard what I ask of You. Help me to be discerning.

James 4:3 (NLT) says, ” … you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” 

Indiana Jones learned that penitent man kneels before God, and Salome also kneels respectfully before Jesus. The difference is that her request of power for her sons is not a request of a penitent heart.

Help me not only to submit to You respectfully in my actions but also in my motives.

You encourage me to come, even if I have it wrong, to ask for Your cup, but help me to ask aright.

I want to bring You honor in my life, but it is tinged with sinful attitudes at times. I know I love the praise of others far too much. There are times when I am way out of my depth and let You down because of my pride and selfishness.

But You invite me to find Your will for my life, things that will make a difference in Your kingdom, neither above or below what You intend for my life, to drink from the cup. Keep me engaged with Your purposes, listening for Your correction and willing to change and grow.

 AND SEEK TO UNDERSTAND …

Salome is the mouthpiece for selfish ambition, but you will notice that Jesus shifts the answer to her sons and to us.

“You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they reply, “we are able!” (Matthew 20:22 NLT).

Here is the Chalice of Christ, the Holy Grail! A bitter cup of suffering, not what I immediately associate with God’s favor, especially if I crave position, power and influence.

Apparently, criminals were at times made to drink poison and assassinations could be made by spiking wine with poison, but this cup of suffering was spiked with the poison of my sin and just as deadly.

This was not a cup of sweet wine offered to Jesus to celebrate His status. But a bitter cup of deep suffering to demonstrate His Servanthood

James and John could not endure such a poisonous potion of suffering due to their arrogance and pride, and it was these very sins, among others, that soured the very cup from which Jesus tasted. It was for their sins and my sins that He would die.

Jesus encourages me not be too quick in saying I am able when I am clearly NOT. He doesn’t simply say “No!” But as He questions me through His Word, He gives me the opportunity to respond, no matter how arrogantly to Him, and then He brings correction and further understanding so that I can adjust the tenor of my prayers according to His purposes.

 AS YOU DRINK …

Jesus tells them, “You will indeed drink from My bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on My right or My left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen (Matthew 20:23 NLT).

Jesus is patient, direct. James and John would indeed drink the bitter wine from this Holy Grail. What did He mean? And does He expect me to suffer also?

James will die by the sword. (Acts 12:2). Was the cup for him the cup of martyrdom? Tradition says John was tortured, then banished to the Island of Patmos. Was that his bitter cup? Can I expect a gruesome end on this quest for the Holy Grail?

Click on picture below for the animation

Cup of Christ or Cup of Judgment © Images and Animation by Ross Cochrane

 FROM THE CUP OF CHRIST, …

According to Dake, 12 cups are given figurative meaning in the Bible, but I think they can be reduced to perhaps 4. The key cups are of judgment, salvation, suffering, and communion. 

  1. THE CUP OF JUDGMENT ON THE WICKED

Psalm 75:8 (NLT) says, For the Lord holds a cup in His hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. HE POURS OUT THE WINE IN JUDGMENT, AND ALL THE WICKED MUST DRINK IT, draining it to the dregs.” 

The Cup of Judgment is eternal death. Romans 6:23 (NLT2) says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2. THE CUP OF SUFFERING ON THE CROSS

Jesus speaks in Matthew 20:22 (NLT) of the bitter CUP OF SUFFERING I am about to drink?” 

It is as if Jesus takes the Cup of Judgment of the wicked from me and gives to me the cup of Eternal Life (Salvation). He drinks my cup of death and I drink His cup of life. 

3. THE CUP OF SALVATION FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE

David says in Psalm 116:13 (NLT), I will lift up the CUP OF SALVATION and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.” 

4. THE CUP OF THE PASSOVER CONFIRMING THE COVENANT 

The Passover cup confirms that I am forgiven. In Matthew 26:27-28 (NLT) Jesus took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is My blood, which CONFIRMS THE COVENANT between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”

How can I or anyone possibly DRINK THE BITTER CUP OF CHRIST? How can anyone really share in the suffering of Christ? 

When Jesus concedes that James and John will suffer also, is He is talking about identifying with His death, just as followers of Christ do each time they celebrate Communion?

Dan Brown almost got it right. The Holy Grail does involve a person; Jesus Christ Himself. The cup represents His death for me. My quest is reached …

 BY DYING TO SELFISH DESIRES, …

Romans 6:6 (NLT) speaks about sharing in the suffering of Christ. “We know that our old sinful selves were CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says MY OLD SELF HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Am I willing to die to my pride daily and give my life in serving Jesus, no matter what the cost? Help me to do so, Lord.

In Luke 14:25-34 (NLT), Jesus again speaks of me sharing in His suffering. He says, ... if you do not CARRY YOUR OWN CROSS and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.

In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus said, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS DAILY, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 

… AND IDENTIFYING WITH CHRIST, …

Paul, writing to the Philippians in Philippians 3:8 (NLT), spoke of his own experience, saying Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and BECOME ONE WITH HIM.” 

Jesus used James’ and John’s response as an opportunity to teach them what it means to be on a quest for the Holy Grail: to be a follower of Christ. Servanthood comes before Status. Only then could they understand that sitting in places of power with Christ must be seen from a totally different perspective.

Ephesians 1:20 (NLT) says

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and SEATED HIM IN THE PLACE OF HONOUR AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.”

 THEN YOU WILL BE BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE …

Drinking from the Bitter Cup of the Holy Grail (the cup of Christ) is closely associated with being seated in places of honor with Christ. In the light of all that Christ has done for me, Ephesians 2:4-8 (NLT) makes more sense. It says,

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and SEATED US WITH HIM in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are UNITED with Christ Jesus. God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

 AS YOU SERVE THE SERVANT KING.

When Jesus spoke of sharing the cup of His suffering, I think He was referring not only to James being beheaded (Acts 12:2) and John being exiled to Patmos (Revelation 1:9) but he was inviting them and me to share in what led Him to the Cross; His willingness to do whatever it took to see others saved from the power of sin and death.

My quest for the Holy Grail is to be crucified with Christ or united with Christ which means to have His mission no matter what the cost. To serve in its fullest measure. If I identify myself with Christ I will identify with Him in His death and resurrection and sit with Him, united in His Purposes.

Simple but beautiful. Filled to the brim. Who is willing to drink?

John 12:26 (NLT2) says, Anyone who wants to be My disciple must follow Me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” 

It is not so much that I have the honor of sitting with You, but that You have humbled Yourself to sit with me. It is not about a quest to find the Holy Grailbut about drinking from the cup of Eternal Life already offered. It’s not about me asking You for favors but about me choosing to serve You. That blows my mind. I am servant to the Servant King.

Pastor Ross

scorpion death sting

The Sting of Death © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:19 – JESUS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF RISING AGAIN? 

Matthew 20:19 (NLT) says, “Then they will hand Him (Jesus) over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” 

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT2) says, Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.”  

I am left with important questions which needs to be answered, because the Bible says Jesus died and rose again for my sake. 

Jesus, why did You rise again from the dead? What did it achieve? What was the point? How is Your resurrection related to me? 

For me, those questions have been answered clearly and consistently throughout the BibleJesus has already responded to me through His Word. He says… 

1. SO YOU CAN BECOME A CHILD OF GOD (NEW BIRTH) 

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT) says, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 

Hebrews 2:9-10 (NLT2) says Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. 

John 1:12 (NLT) says, But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” 

In John 3:3 (NLT) Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. …” 

Jesus replied… “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”  

2. SO YOU CAN BELIEVE WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT ME 

In John 2:19-22 (NLT2) Jesus says, “All right, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” He meant His own body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered He had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.”  

3. TO GIVE YOU VICTORY OVER THE POWER OF SIN AND DEATH  

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O death, where is your sting © by Ross Cochrane (press on image to view animation)

The sting of death is sin. It is like the sting of a scorpion that lasts for eternity, but Jesus conquered death and sin through His resurrection.   

Romans 3:23 (NLT2) says, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  

Romans 6:23 (NLT2) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (NLT2) says, Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said … “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, … But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

Jesus didn’t deserve to die because He never sinned. He died for us to pay the penalty for our sin. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT2) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

And through these scriptures, He says to me that He was raised from the dead… 

4. SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE ETERNALLY WITH ME 

There is no condemnation for those who have trusted in Christ. 

In John 11:25-26 (NLT2) Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. …”  

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT) says, … Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

I can only respond to what Jesus did for me by praying, Lord, thankyou for dying for meThankyou for rising again and conquering sin and death. Help me to share the reasons for Your death and resurrection to others. 

I love You, Lord, because You first loved me. 

Pastor Ross 

 

Matthew 20:17-19 – JESUS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF DYING FOR ME? 

Matthew 20:17-19 (NLT) says As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to Him. “Listen,” He said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die. Then they will hand Him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. … 

Cross

Reflecting on the Crucifixion – © Photo by Ross Cochrane

Jesus knew that He would be betrayed by friends, Romans and countrymen. Condemned unjustly, He would die a cruel death.   

Isaiah 53:3-12 (NLT) gives an incredible prophecy. It mirrors the words Jesus shared with His disciples about His death. It says, He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. … He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. He was pierced … crushed … beaten … whipped … He exposed Himself to death … He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 

I am left with important questions which need to be answered because Isaiah also says that He died for me. 

Jesus, why did You choose to die for me? What did it achieve? What was the point? 

For me, those questions have been answered clearly and consistently throughout the BibleJesus has already responded to me through His Word. He says… 

  1. BECAUSE LOVED YOU AND WANT YOU TO SHARE MY LOVE  

 

Key of Life

Cross = Love. Key of Life – © Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 5:2 (NLT2) says, He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. 

Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

2. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD SAVE YOU 

one-way3

One Way © by Ross Cochrane

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” 

Hebrews 2:10 (NLT) says, “… And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”  

Luke 19:10 (NLT) says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” 

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) says, For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” 

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” 

3. TO BREAK THE POWER OF THE DEVIL, SIN AND DEATH  

Wrecking Ball 1

Breaking down the walls © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:14 (NLT2) … For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death …”  

Romans 8: 1-2 says, So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

4. TO SET US FREE FROM THE FEAR OF DYING 

 

Hereafter

Hereafter © by Ross Cochrane

 Hebrews 2:15 (NLT) says, “… Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.  

5. TO FORGIVE YOU AND TAKE AWAY YOUR SINS AND THE PENALTY OF YOUR SIN

 

Do we live in a Just World?

JUSTICE AND GRACE © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:17 (NLT) continues, “Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.…”  

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) says, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” 

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT) says, He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. …  

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all …  

1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says, He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) says, He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” 

6. TO HELP YOU IN TIMES OF SUFFERING AND TESTING  

What happens when my world falls apart

What Happens When my World falls apart? © Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:18 (NLT)says, “…Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”  

7. TO UNITE YOU AND BRING YOU INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH ME 

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us and Wants a Relationship with Us. © by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 2:13-18 (NLT2) says, But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you ..Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” 

Isaiah 53:11-12 (NLT) says, “… And because of His experience, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. I will give Him the honours of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death.  

He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.” 

8. TO GIVE YOU THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE 

Jesus Loves Me!

Golden Thread on the Gift of Eternal Life © by Ross Cochrane

John 17:1-3 (NLT2) says,  He (God the Father) gives eternal life to each one You have given Him (God the Son)And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth …”  

9. TO COMPLETE THE PURPOSES GOD GAVE ME TO DO 

Hand of Jesus4

Completing the Work of the Cross © Image by Ross Cochrane

John 17:4-5 (NLT) says, “… (Jesus) brought glory to You (God the Father) here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, bring Me into the glory We shared before the world began.  

10. TO MODEL THE PRINCIPLES OF SERVANTHOOD 

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership © by Ross Cochrane

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT2) says, You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” 

Pastor Ross 

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Shards of Pain © by Ross Cochrane using GetPaint.net

Matthew 20:18-19 – FACING THE FUTURE

The nausea became too much and I found myself looking into a bowl for several times that day. I thought it must be some gastric bug, but it wasn’t. I admit that my prayerlife was focused on myself that day. “Lord, please heal my body! 

The pain started last Saturday, slowly at first and then it cut deep into my lower stomach in an arc with surging intense bursts (and I had been looking forward to a restful weekend).  

No position in bed on Saturday night would give enough opportunity for sleep and by Sunday I was feeling miserable. No Church, even though my son was preaching. I decided to email my boss and let her know I would not be coming in on Monday. 

By Monday with no respite from the pain I was wondering what was going on; a hernia perhaps, a blockage of some sort and my mind even entertained bowel cancer (as you do)?  

My wife drove me to my doctor, Dr. James. After some painful prodding and questioning, he said, I suppose you expected me to give you a script for chemist shop drugs that will give you relief while I spend another day running some tests. But instead, I am sending you to the emergency department at the Seventh Day Adventist hospital with a suspected Appendicitis attack. They will do the tests much more quickly. I am sure it is to do with your appendix.” My day had changed yet again. We went straight to the hospital.  

From the moment I entered triage, I was treated with such respect and care, starting with Tony, the triage nurse and so many others. They encouraged me to ask my questions. From the ward’s person, to the trainee doctor, Kevin, to nursing staff and the surgeon, Dr. Barto, everyone was so understanding and explained each step. Through all this, my wife, Julie, was there to support me.  

The tests were fairly clear. “You will have the operation to take out your offending appendix at around 7 pm”, said the surgeon, Dr. Barto.  

 

The emotional and mental pain begins for Jesus as He turns towards Jerusalem, knowing exactly what He will go through. He gathers His disciples. He describes what will happen. Unlike me, no care and respect is given. He will be betrayed, condemned, mocked, flogged and crucified with no-one to support Him.  

What anguish must have accompanied this disclosure to His closest friends, but even they seem to show Him no understanding. Instead, they vie for authority in the coming Kingdom with no inkling of comprehension of the concept of servanthood.  

 

There was a space at 4 pm and I was wheeled through the corridors to the operating theatre, and for me, the next thing I remember is waking up in the post-op area and wheeled back to a beautiful room on the 9th floor where I felt euphoric from the anaesthetic and the comforting presence of God and my wife.

 

The offending appendix, I discovered, had been gangrenous. I am grateful to God that when I was helpless, there were those who treated me with care and respect and excellence. I woke the next day to the soft rays of a sunrise through my window.  

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I received care and healing and respect. Jesus received contempt and abuse and disdain. I cannot imagine the torment of inflicted pain that would crush my spirit and body to the point of death. He died, surrounded by the severity of hardened soldiers instead of trusted friends to support Him. They spoke of places of authority at His right and left hand but in the end, they ran away.  

He told them He would rise on the 3rd day. How simple that sounds but in rising again He would wrench the very hatred from a world of sinful opposition and give each mocking face an opportunity to find their way to God through Him. He gave respect where there was none, love where there was only derisive laughter.  

He woke, not like me, from a drug-induced euphoria on a hospital bed, but from the dungeons of death and a stone slab, with a startling rush of breath into His lungs, victory clasped like a scepter in His hand.  

The gangrenous sin seeping its poison in the world with its blackened tendrils of death was cut away and thrown into the void, the offending stench replaced with a sweet-smelling incense to those who put their trust in Christ. 

A gangrenous appendix operation fades into insignificance as I take hold of You, my risen Saviour and grasp just a glimpse of what it must have meant for You to share this disclosure to Your disciples. All I can do is be committed to You who knows the path ahead, even through the valley of death, and enjoy the life you have gifted.  

Pastor Ross 

Blender animation using displacement. Best I can get it so far.

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Denarius © Animation Created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHAT IS JESUS TRYING TO TELL ME?

I love the parable of the Landowner and the Vineyard Workers. Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to the generosity of a landowner who hires laborers at various times during the day. At 6 am He hires people to work in His vineyard for a day’s wage. He hires additional people at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and again at 5 p.m., telling each of these groups that He will give them “whatever is right.” and then pays the last hired with the same wage as those hired first. Absurd! Economy irresponsible! Incredibly generous! Unfair? Since this is a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, what can I learn?

1. THE LANDOWNER NEVER STOPS SEARCHING FOR THOSE WHO WILL SERVE HIM IN THE VINEYARD. He comes repeatedly to the marketplace, all through the day, and at the end of the day gives each one a full days wage.

God never stops searching for those who desire to believe in His Sonserve Him and receive His gift of eternal life. He found me and gave me the opportunity to receive eternal life.

John 15:16 (NLT) says, You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, 

2. THE LANDOWNER FULFILLS HIS AGREEMENT WITH THE INITIAL WORKERS TO PAY A FULL DAY’S WAGE

God keeps His promises. He has promised Eternal Life to those who give their lives to Christ.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT) says, God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?

Acts 16:31 (NLT) says, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, …” 

3. THE DAY WORKERS WAITED AT THE MARKETPLACE READY AND WILLING TO WORK

God chose me because He knew I was willing to come. 

John 3:16 (NLT) says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

4. THE DAY WORKERS RECOGNISE THAT THEY ARE DESTITUTE WITHOUT THE LANDOWNER

They agree to serve the Landowner knowing He will do what is right. Without Him, they are destitute.

We are destitute spiritually without ChristJesus offered the rich young ruler eternal life but he turned away from Him. Jesus then told this parable about those who served Him who recognize that they are poor without Him. We come to God recognizing the inadequacy of our own resources for life and eternity.

John 15:5 (NLT) says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.

Romans 5:6 (NLT) says, When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

5. THE WORKERS WHO CAME THROUGHOUT THE DAY TRUSTED THE LANDOWNER

They did not know how much they would receive but they worked for Him anyway.

We come to Christ to serve Him, not simply to get our needs met. We come under His authority. And what we receive goes way beyond what we deserve.

In Joshua 24:15 (NLT) Joshua challenges people to choose who they will serve. He said, But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 34:22 (NLT) says But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

Matthew 9:37-38 (NLT) says, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into his fields.”

6. NONE OF THE WORKERS DESERVED ANYTHING FROM THE LANDOWNER

Not those who worked a full day or those who worked for only an hour. It was only by the grace of the Landowner that they were given anything, since it all belonged to Him.

God gives us that which we do not earn, work for or deserve. Eternal life is a free gift. Serving God is a given for every Christian. Eternal life was paid for by Christ, not us, and given to us as a free gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says, God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

7. THE WORKERS WHO CAME FIRST WERE NO MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOSE WHO CAME LAST

Denarii

Denarius © Created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

My service to Christ is no less important than others who may be famous or have more money or have more influence than I do. Eternal life is not dependent on whether I’m better than someone else in earthly terms. I have the privilege of serving Christ in the best way I can and even then I need His help.

Ephesians 2:9 (NLT) says Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

8. THE WORKERS WHO WORKED A FULL DAY WANTED MORE THAN THEY RECEIVEDeven though they received what they had been promised. They wanted to be paid based on comparison with others.

I can trust God for my provision.

Whether I have a lot of money in the bank or not, it’s easy to be more concerned or even anxious with what I have or do not have than in trusting in God for my finances and for my daily provision. It’s easy to compare what I have with others.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NLT) reminds me that “…true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So, if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” 

The rich young ruler went away sorrowful and without eternal life because he wasn’t willing to give his riches away. The poor day workers received a full days wage, more than they expected because they were willing to receive whatever was right from the Landowner and come under His authority and serve Him.

Jesus said, “… I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

What an amazing perspective for life.

Pastor Ross

Denarii © Created by Ross Cochrane with Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHEN GOD IS UNFAIR – Jesus and the Fair Workers Tribunal – Part 2

Matthew 20:1 says, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for His vineyard...”

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, we understand you are the Landowner of the Kingdom of Heaven Vineyards.

Jesus – Yes. The Landowner, creator and employer. 

Tribunal Chairperson – Your name for the record?

Jesus  Joshua Davidson, known as Jesus to most.

Tribunal Chairperson – And why do you call Your vineyard the Kingdom of heaven?

Jesus  It is called a Kingdom because it is the sphere where I exercise absolute authority as owner and employer. It is called Heaven because it is a place of fruitfulnesslife and perfection. Once workers come to My Vineyard they live on the property and under My authority. They find their ultimate calling and destiny. 

Tribunal Chairperson – We understand that this morning you hired some workers?

Jesus  Yes, I searched for them, found them and invited them to serve Me in My Vineyard. Without being hired, these day laborers would not have the resources they need to liveThey would be destitute and starve. I am their provider.

Tribunal Chairperson – We are here because a question has been asked by Peter, James and John, who are also Your employees, about fairness. You must realize that Employees have to be paid at least their minimum pay rates and entitlements. What exactly is the enterprise agreement or other registered agreement that Your workers are under?

Jesus – I have made a covenant agreement with all those who serve at the Vineyard. It is called Grace. I bypass normal agreements by giving a gift to every one of the same value. I simply say to My workers, “If you serve Me, you will not receive what is fair, but what I decide to give to you which will be right.”  

Tribunal Chairperson – I thought as much. Your employees have been underpaid, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. We, therefore, are calling upon You to pay your workers what is fair. We understand that sometimes underpayments happen accidentally because of computer or human errorthe wrong number of hours paidpenalty rates not appliedother entitlements not paid, such as leave or allowancesbut You have deliberately underpaid Your workers. At the end of the day, we are here to audit only one pay period over a 12 hour day. We understand you employed others workers at different times of the day.

Jesus  Yes, I am continually looking for those who want to serve Me in the Vineyard. Many people are just waiting for the opportunity and are grateful that I have found them.

Tribunal Chairperson – You chose those who were just standing around?

Jesus  Yes. But it‘s not that these workers want to do nothing. They aren’t lazy. They are waiting for the opportunity to work and searching for MeThose who serve Me have realized that their lives were going nowhere and now they have meaning. They serve Me because they are willing to find their destiny in life. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 says  you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. … says the Lord.

Tribunal Chairperson  That’s all well and good, but You kept on hiring people all through the day. We are here to ensure You pay Your workers what they deserve and apparently, this did not happen.

Jesus  My workers deserve nothing from my hand, yet I have given them all the same gift, which represents life and what they can never earn, work for or deserve. Am I to understand that You don’t wish Me to pay those who serve me at all? 

Tribunal Chairperson  Of course not. We are here to ensure that those You do hire are paid what they deserve.

Jesus – You do not realize what you are asking. To pay them what they deserve would only lead to their destruction?

Tribunal Chairperson  Are you saying that your employees don’t deserve to be paid at all?

Jesus  That’s correct. I don’t need to employ them. I have found them in the marketplace of the world and invited them to come to Me and serve Me. They came willingly, knowing that whatever I gave them would be more than they deserve. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I believe some workers came to work for you at 5 in the afternoon and yet you still hired them with just one hour left in the day?

Jesus  Yes. I am always looking for those who will come under my authority. If you had come I would have asked you also “Why haven’t you been working today? Now is the appointed time. There is no need to waste your life waiting for someone else. I am the only One who has come to give people purpose and lifeAnd it is never too late in this life to give your life to Me.

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, let me understand this. You called the last workers first in order to be paidThey had only worked for an hour. How much did you pay them?

Jesus  Yes. The last shall be first. I gave each one a denarius.

Tribunal Chairperson – I see. A full days wage. Very generous. And how much did you pay your employees who worked for the full day?

Jesus – I gave each of them a denarius also.

Tribunal Chairperson – And there’s the problem. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. Some people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid those who worked all day in the scorching heat. Surely You see that there is discrepancy. You have been unfair with Your wages, especially to those who worked for a whole day.

Jesus  No. I agreed with those I hired first, based on my covenant of grace to give them a denarius. This was not based on the number of hours they worked but upon what I desired to give them. They agreed to serve me for a denarius. Those who came later served me for what I considered to be right.

Tribunal Chairperson – It is our contention that You need to backpay your employees who worked for 12 hours by paying them 12 denarii each. And then penalty ratesovertimeallowances, and any other entitlements. That would be fair.

Jesus  You do not know what you are asking. The denarius symbolizes eternal life. I cannot give more than eternal life. To give them what is fair would lead to their destruction. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I contend that You are being unfair.

Jesus  Yes, I am. I am offering My grace to those who trust in Me and that is entirely unfair. It is undeserved. I am here to ask You to come and serve Me also and then you will see personally that my gift of eternal life is unfair.

Today your life will be required of you and you must decide to accept what is fair from My hand which will mean you will be eternally lost or accept my denarius, that which represents that which is totally unfair and undeserved and speaks of absolute grace and eternal life

The wages of sin is death but the free gift I offer to you is eternal life. I will not require any back payments since you have been judged already by your sin, and your words, deeds and thoughts.  

Tribunal Chairperson – Are you mad? We are here to judge you! Do you think you can sit here and judge us? 

Jesus  No, your hearts have done that already. The hour is near. I came to do the work of God among you and give instruction and guide You in life and faith. You are the last of those who I have been searching for all day. I am here to give your life meaning, purpose and destiny. Will you serve Me in My Vineyard rather than try to judge Me for the grace of unfairness. Believe Me, you do not want Me to be fair. Fairness will lead you to hell. Follow Me and have the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross

Denarius. Created with Blender cycles. For blog on Matthew 20 in the Bible.

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Denarius © Graphics and Animation by Ross Cochrane 

Alexus was attacked and robbed yesterday. I stopped in to see him. We are strangers in this area and some people in this town hate and despise strangers. They think we are taking their employment but all we are doing is trying to exist.

Helpless and with no food or ability to earn money or see a physician, Alexus needs my help while he recovers. If I don’t get work today I will look in on him again, but without work, I will have no food for him or for my own family. We will manage somehow.

It is the end of September, the grape harvest has ripened, and everyone knows that the rains are coming soon. If the harvest is not gathered in before the rains break, it will be ruined.

I have heard that the landowner of the largest vineyard will be coming into the town marketplace today and I may already have missed him. His vineyard is called the Kingdom of Heaven. The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few but I have to get there early enough to be hired.

The pay is a denarius, a day’s wage. After tending Alex’s wounds I grab my tools and race to the market square, but the workers are already gone. All I can do is wait to see if another opportunity to work comes as the sun rises slowly in the sky.

How will my family fare without food tomorrow? Life is not easy for day workers, but no one promised that it would be. Chance employment is all I have.

I waited for some time in the Marketplace and walking back to Alexus was difficult for me. I knew we would not eat tomorrow unless I received work but I needed to find out the state of my friend. I was hoping to come back midday and wait once more. Alexus looked bad. I had reported the crime to the authorities and today a messenger came asking Alexus to attend the court at the city gates. Those who had attacked him had been apprehended. He needed my help to get him there but he was able to identify his assailants. Unfortunately, due to other cases being heard, this took most of the day.

After returning Alexus to his home, I returned to the Marketplace in the vain hope that someone would at least give me an hour of work.

To my astonishment, just as I arrived, the Landowner stepped up to me and said: “Why haven’t you been working today?” Before I had an opportunity to reply, someone behind me answered Him“Because no-one hired us.” He invited us to work the final hour of the day. I was grateful for any work and thanked Him. 

After only one hour of hard work, the foreman called us all in to be paid. I didn’t expect much but even one hours work will give me something for my family and Alexus. The Landowner asked for those who had worked last, late in the day, to come and be paid first.

A man joined me in the line. He put his hand on my shoulder and I turned to see … Alexus!

“How?” I said, astonished at his sudden appearance. He looked healthy and he no longer limped. His bruises and swelling on his face had gone completely.

“I was working in another section of the vineyard”, he said, “so I couldn’t see or talk with you. When you left my house a strange thing happened. I prayed that God would spare my life. Immediately, the foreman knocked at my door,  placed his hand on me and said, “Your faith has made you well.” I was totally healed at that moment. He asked me to work in His Fathers Vineyard and so I am here. Like you, I have only worked for an hour.”

Then my shock was doubled. As we arrived at the table, the foreman handed each of us a denarius, a full day’s wage!  

“You must be mistaken, we have only worked for an hour?” I said.

He looked up and said, “We do not pay wages here. You are not being overpaid. This denarius is not based on what you have done for Me but upon what I wish to do for you. It is my gift. Those who serve Me receive My gifts.  

Pastor Ross

THE PARABLE OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR © Ross Cochrane

What a timeless classic children’s story is the Very Hungry Caterpillar written by Eric Carle, which we loved reading to our children and grandchildren.

Very Hungry Caterpillar

When thinking about my Easter message this year I thought what better illustration by way of a parable to consider the truths of God’s Word regarding Christ’s death and resurrection.

Eric Carle begins his story by saying, “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” How amazing is this egg, fixed to the leaf with a very special rubbery substance which soon sets solid?

  1. GRACE

In our parable, this little egg represents you and me, and God has created and protected you and me for a purpose. We love chocolate eggs at Easter but this is not a chocolate egg, and this egg is not to be devoured and forgotten. It is an entirely different kind of egg.

Like this tiny egg, you may feel small and insignificant in the scheme of things, but Psalm 139 says that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways”. King David says in that Psalm, “I will give thanks to You (Lord), for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well…  lead me in the everlasting way.”

GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE.

Eric Carle’s story continues, “One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry Caterpillar.”

He started to look for some food. I’m so HUNGRY!, he said. On Monday he ate through 1 apple. But he was still hungry. 

On Tuesday he ate through 2 pears, but he was still hungry. 

On Wednesday he ate through 3 plums, but he was still hungry. 

On Thursday he ate through 4 strawberries, but he was still hungry.

On Friday he ate through 5 oranges, but he was still hungry.

On Saturday he ate through 1 piece of chocolate cake, 1 icecream cone, 1 pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1 slice of salami, 1 lollipop, 1 piece of cherry pie, 1 sausage, 1 cupcake, And 1 slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomach-ache!

The very hungry caterpillar then ate through one green leaf. He started to feel better.

Caterpillar on leaf morguefile

Now, the caterpillar was no longer small. He was a big, fat caterpillar.

(In the interests of the parable about Easter, I have added to the story,)

“He thought that he was born into this world simply to crawl in the dirt and gorge himself with the leaves of plants.

All he had done was eat and look after himself with no real concerns about anything else. He didn’t know that he was created for another purpose. The ugly, hungry caterpillar didn’t realize the possibility of TRANSFORMATION.

The Bible says we are like that Caterpillar, but we are created for more than simply survival. We may even feel that we are big in the eyes of the world, but God has offered us the possibility of Resurrection life. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). And Romans 3:20 says that “The gift of God is Eternal life.”

  1. SIN

WHAT STOPS US FROM LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL AND RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

“It wasn’t always easy for the Caterpillar. He had to be careful of predators like spiders and wasps and one time a bird tried to eat him but he camouflaged himself on a leaf.”  

Like that Caterpillar, there is a Predator in our life that stops us from living life to the full, the life for which we are created. The predator we face is SATAN. We live in a sinful world and commit personal sin.

Caterpillars may make use of camouflage to evade their predators, but very few eggs and caterpillars survive. Unlike the Caterpillar, you can’t hide from the results of sin. The Bible says “The Wages of Sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose (Satan’s purpose) is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT)

Now you may have accepted this grub kind of existence and think that you are destined to crawl around and eat whatever the world throws at you, trying to avoid sin and death, thinking that there’s nothing you can do about your lot in life, and your RIGHT.

WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO SAVE OURSELVES, … but GOD CAN AND DID…

  1. GOD

The good news is that the Bible says that God has made you for so much more. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.”

SO HOW DO WE RECEIVE WHAT GOD OFFERS?

“The Caterpillar was fully grown now and didn’t want another bite. In fact, he was so tired of all the hard work of eating and trying to keep away from predators that he began to wander around for a while not really knowing what to do. He WANTED A CHANGE. He longed for something MORE but didn’t know what it was. He decided to build a small house, called a cocoon around himself. He stayed inside for quite some time.”

Like the Caterpillar, we have to find that place of spiritual rest where we can reflect and begin to see the need in our life and desire something more. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (Matt. 11:28). It’s only when we trust in Jesus that a miracle on the inside occurs.

 “And something happened on the inside. As he rested, an AMAZING TRANSFORMATION began to take place. Most of the tissues and cells in his body began to break down completely. In effect, his body died except for some tiny cells that were ACTIVATED.

Those cells began to use the nutrients of the Caterpillar in such a way that he was BORN AGAIN INTO SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW. It was a miracle. He was born again.

When the transformation was complete, he could hardly wait to see himself. He nibbled a small hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and… “

(At this point I released a butterfly from a small box. He stayed on my finger for a while and then flew into the audience only to land on someone else) 

Butterfly Morguefile

“… A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY emerged. He spent an hour basking in the sun to dry out his new wings and then as the wind lifted him, he took flight. He glided aloft, fluttering and riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after flower, tasting the nectar and ‘showing off his vivid colors to the vibrancy of the blossoms.’ 

HE THOUGHT, THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRULY CREATED FOR.”

  1. CHRIST

THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS SPIRITUALLY TO US WHEN WE GIVE OUR LIVES TO JESUS AND TRUST OURSELVES TO HIM.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

  1. FAITH

THE BUTTERFLY SYMBOLISES BEING BORN AGAIN.

In John 3:6-8 Jesus says, “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be BORN AGAIN.’

The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are BORN OF THE SPIRIT.”

There is much more to life than what we now see and what you may have accepted. And there is hope beyond the grave.

The parable of the very Hungry Caterpillar reminds me of the hunger every person has on the inside for relationship with God. When we trust in Christ, something new is activated from within. Our old life is gone but nothing is wasted. In His hands, we are made new, with a new life. We are a new creation.

The Bible says God became a man but without sin. The Bible says He paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the Cross for us. He was laid in a tomb.

BUT EASTER DOESN’T STOP AT THE CROSS, … OR AT THE TOMB …

The story of the Cocoon and Crysalis reminds me that on Sunday Morning after Jesus had been crucified and taken to the grave, the disciples came to the tomb and saw JESUS’ GRAVECLOTHES lying there, much like an EMPTY CHRYSALIS. An angel told the startled disciples. “HE IS RISEN,”

(At this point in my message I released 15 other butterflies into the audience)

Why do we have this Easter service? To go through the ritual? Not at all! Rather we gather to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death itself. He is our Lord and our Savior, His Victory is our victory. In celebrating His resurrection we celebrate our own assurance of ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER DEATH.

YOU CAN BE BORN AGAIN BY PUTTING YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST.

Let’s pray this prayer together. It is for all of you who would like to know for certain that you are born again and that you have eternal life. 

Lord God, thankyou that You have created me for much more than I can even imagine. Thankyou for creating a hunger in me for spiritual truth. Thankyou Lord Jesus, for dying for my sins. Thankyou for rising again so that I too could have new life. 

Come into my life, Lord Jesus. Make me a new creation. I am under Your authority. I am in Your hands. I spread my wings, and fly to You, 

Amen. 

Pastor Ross

Related Posts

see also

http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/buterfly.htm

The Parable of The Butterfly

 

 

Risk and Reward 4.png

Risk and Reward © Image by Ross Cochrane using GetPaint. net

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 2 

And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT). 

Jesus says that … 

2. ETERNAL LIFE WILL ALSO BE A REWARD FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN UP EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW CHRIST 

The Apostles and all followers of Christ who are willing to pay that price know that it is worth the risk, whatever they go through; a hundred times better, even in this life, but the reward of knowing Christ is multiplied beyond this in eternity.  

He’s saying that some followers of Christ may lose possessions and even families through persecution, so the sacrifice is great. The risk is great. The reward in knowing Christ and honoring Him, however, is even greater. The blessings of this earth are precious but always held in the light of seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  

When we come to Christ, we hand over everything to His rulership. Coming under His authority means everything we have is under new management. 

We know that no matter what happens in this life, we serve a sovereign God, who understands and who is working out His purposes in us and in the world, until Christ returns and this world is made new. Christ is pre-eminent for those who follow Him and life is full (John 10:10), beyond possessions and even relationships. 

The invitation of Christ is to trust in Him and the work He has done on the Cross in paying the price for our sins and then continue to serve Him. The by-product of knowing Christ and living under His rulership is great reward and life everlasting. 

In John 5:22-26 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” 

John 17:3 says “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” 

Pastor Ross