Many of us struggle with desires that, if left unchecked, have the power to destroy us. A love of money can lead us down a path in which we would do “anything” for it, and that path leads to death. Our love of food (in my case, french fries and almost anything chocolate) makes us vulnerable to any number of diseases or conditions that have the power to take our lives. And, our societal appetite for sex opens the door to STD’s that can permanently alter, and/or eventually end, one’s earthly existence. In other words, when we lack a standard and the self-control necessary to uphold it, we enter a realm in which it is quite possible that something or someone will take our lives.
The best way to confront the temptations of the world, so that they do not gain the power to overcome and kill us, is to “kill” ourselves. Today, Christians around the world celebrate the fact that Jesus the Christ “killed” himself for all of us. Of course, Judas betrayed Him set Him up to be captured. And yes, He was crucified at the request of manipulative religious leaders, but let’s not make the mistake of failing to give credit where credit is due. Jesus did this to himself.
With all the power of God dwelling within Him and all the angels in Heaven at His disposal, Jesus still allowed Himself to be taken captive and eventually crucified. He knew and even warned His disciples that this time was coming. He wasn’t just murdered…He gave up His life. He saw the bigger picture, recognized the power that obedience to the Father’s plan would bring, and put Himself to the side. Coincidentally, that’s the exact same thing that He taught His disciples to do, and it’s the same thing that we are supposed to do today.
Each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) records Jesus challenging His disciples in this way. They had seen divine power manifest itself through Jesus on countless occasions, as he taught the Word, healed the sick and blind, and performed truly unbelievable feats in their presence. He didn’t give them a seminar in obtaining wealth and/or power so they could be like Him; He told them they would have to “kill” themselves to be like Him. In fact, Matthew the tax collector records Jesus’ instructions in this way: “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 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (16:24-25)
There are things that are a part of each of us that need to be denied, both for our sake and for Christ’s sake. As we each remember Christ’s sacrifice today and the way He denied Himself to be obedient, let us take stock of those things within us that need to be killed so that the power of God may reign more completely in our lives. Whatever it is in you that keeps you from giving yourself more wholly to the cause of Christ, choose this Good Friday to nail it to the cross and crucify it, with full confidence that “killing” your self will bring you the new life you’ve been searching for.