Last night as I contemplated the suffering and adversity that Jesus endured on the cross, I thought to myself: Yeah, Good Friday was good for mankind but in no way, shape, or form was it good for Jesus (the man). No sooner had this thought entered my mind, it was replaced by a voice that reminded me that while a selfish man will avoid adversity at all cost, a selfless man who has died to himself welcomes and rejoices over the adversity that comes from doing what is right, upholding the truth, and fulfilling a purpose that is infinitely greater than himself.
I was also reminded yesterday that Jesus was dead well before He ever died on the cross. He had totally and utterly died to himself and had become completely selfless – especially after the episode in the garden of Gethsemane. It was this selflessness that emboldened him to break the established rules in order to fulfill the law of love (God is love). The leaders in his time did not like that he broke the rules, so they found every reason to accuse him, arrest him, and sanction his suffering and subsequent death on the cross.
In sanctioning the death of Jesus, the religious leaders thought they were putting an end to Him. How laughable! In truth they were only working to fulfill His most noble purpose. Moreover, he arose from the grave 3 days later. How shocked they must have been! What they did not consider is that it is ‘difficult’ to kill a dead man…a dead man cannot be killed off..he can only come alive!
Consider Nelson Mandela. The ones who held power thought they could put an end to his crusade to end apartheid by throwing him in prison; a place where they thought he would die. All they ended up doing was fueling the fire of change in the country. Mandela rose from the sentence of being a dead and forgotten man to being resurrected from his pitiful prison to rule the nation from his presidential palace.
The story of Mandela is in some way similar to that of Joseph in that Joseph went from the prison to the palace. Both left an undeniable imprint in their country and left a long and lasting legacy in the world.
So friend, if you are dead and selfless, be prepared to endure adversity. The folks who seem to hold sway may not like you (for whatever reason). They may even be convinced in their heart that they are right – like the pharisee believed. But remember that just because someone is honest in their belief does not mean their belief is not honestly wrong. Take heart and carry on in the will of God – no one can stop your impact in your world. Just as the only way a seed can produce fruit is if it dies (see John 12:24), the only way our lives will produce good fruit is if we die to ourselves and surrender ourselves completely to the will of God. Remember that the consequence of doing the right thing is not our responsibility; it is God’s responsibility. So die to live!!