The Cross of the Believer

Who cares to let the Saviour in? We today are a very caring society. We care about our family even though the family may have done us a lot of hardship, we still care for our family. We care for our animals. We put such care into our business life. As the song says, have you any room for Jesus? There is no room for Jesus; there is no time for Him.

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture Reading Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;


We are looking at the cross of the believer. We have contemplated the cross of Christ but now we are turning our attention to the response that the believer would have as he contemplates the cross of Christ.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.

No man can ever ascend up into heaven until he first comes down just as Jesus did. Jesus took the cross; He came down from heaven and took the path of the cross so the believer may follow His example. He speaks to Nicodemus and says, Nicodemus, come down; come down and become born again. Come down from the heaven of your own glory.

Apostle Paul was like Nicodemus. Up in a very lofty heaven of human, fleshly glory. Before Apostle Paul was Paul, he was Saul a great man in the Hebrew regime.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

He was a very high and lofty person, up in the heaven of his own fleshly sense.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,  9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 

The resurrection of the dead pertains to going to heaven. When you’re resurrected from the dead, you are resurrected to be taken to heaven. To get there Apostle Paul is describing here his lofty position which he came down from. He came down from the heaven of his pharisaic pride. He came down, he counted all things but loss for Christ, to know Him; the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable unto his death so that he might experience the power of the resurrection and the rising to heaven.

The words fellowship of his suffering; this is the bonding message of the hour, the cross of the believer; fellowship with Christ. Why? The word fellowship comes from the root word fellow, my fellow; as it was expressed by God the Father to His Son, my fellow in the Godhead. We are called upon to enter into a fellowship together with Christ. Why? It is because Jesus entered into fellowship with us. He came down from heaven to enter into fellowship with us.

What Jesus did. Do we care? Who cares about Jesus? Jesus came to enter into fellowship with us to suffer with us so that it would appeal to our heart response of care about Jesus. When we look at Gethsemane we notice that Jesus in Gethsemane, was actually yearning for his disciples to have fellowship with Him.

Isaiah 63:5 And I looked, and [there was] none to help; and I wondered that [there was] none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.

Here we see Jesus looking and wondering is there no body that can enter into a fellowship with me here? I look for some to help; I look for some to uphold as I am struggling with their sins they don’t even want to join with me in that struggle.

The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. {DA 687.3}

He said is there none to uphold in my suffering?

This longing Christ felt to the very depths of His being. In the supreme agony of His soul He came to His disciples with a yearning desire to hear some words of comfort from those whom He had so often blessed and comforted, and shielded in sorrow and distress. The One who had always had words of sympathy for them was now suffering superhuman agony, and He longed to know that they were praying for Him and for themselves. {DA 687.3}

Can you see the powerful context here of the fellowship? – Praying for Him and for themselves because it was for them that He suffered like this.

How dark seemed the malignity of sin! Terrible was the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt, while He stood innocent before God. If He could only know that His disciples understood and appreciated this, He would be strengthened.  {DA 687.3}

He was looking for somebody to understand what He was doing. Do we care how Jesus feels? Do we care that He is really longing for us to understand what He was doing for us? Do we care about Jesus? He is now in heaven and still as our High Priest with humanity upon Him and the memory of His suffering in humanity looking down upon us, looking for those who understand. He could be encouraged even in his ministry as a high priest if He could only know that His disciples understood and appreciated His personal suffering for them, He would be strengthened and encouraged.

Jesus is a very social being. We see it in all His experiences here upon earth with the disciples. There was John the beloved, or people like Mary, Martha and Lazarus; He enjoyed warm relationships with those who appreciated His care for them. In the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He was able to relax with them because they appreciated and embraced His wonderful meanings and He didn’t have to feel uncomfortable because He couldn’t be understood. They believed Him; they trusted His words so He blessed them in relationship with Him. This is what He yearns to do for us. Even as our High Priest right now He is calling out for us

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Supping together as in Gethsemane; He came to sup with the disciples. He came to sup with us as sinners and He is saying is there nobody that wants to sup with me and watch with me and engage with me? We read His words of high priestly prayer in the following Scripture and you see Him expressing this yearning for union and fellowship with the human sinful race appealing to their union with Him.

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Can you see His high priestly prayer here appealing to the Father that the human race that He came to redeem may become one like the Father and the Son are one in social intimacy?

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Fellowship among the believers like the fellowship of heaven.

John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

What a subject to meditate on!  How Jesus is yearning in His high priestly prayer that the intimacy of the Father and the Son was transferred to the human race by Jesus becoming a human being and taking up the cross right from the time of His inception when He came into the womb of Mary. From that time onwards, it was a constant suffering. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect. This was His whole purpose for them, that they may be made perfect; that they may be able to enter the heavenly perfection. He left heaven and came to us so that we might think and have care for Him who suffered so much so that we may have an incentive to pursue.

Did you notice that He is giving us an incentive but He is not gate-crashing?  In Revelation 3:20 He says, Behold I stand at the door and knock. He doesn’t just knock and come in; He stands and waits because He is not a gate-crasher. He yearns for our response. It is one of the characteristics that come out very clearly in the nature of Jesus interaction with humanity.

John 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Jesus walked by as John the Baptist said this is the Lamb of God. Jesus didn’t say straight away come and follow me, He walked by and let them follow Him and then He turned around and asked why are you following me; what are you looking for? It is very interesting the way He communicates to appeal to people to consider for themselves whether they actually want to follow Him; if they actually want to open the door to Him. This was repeated another time after His death and resurrection on the road to Emmaus where He met those disciples walking along in misery because of the crucifixion. Jesus just connected with them and they started talking and He asked them questions and so on. When they arrived at their home He moved on to act as if He wouldn’t bother them anymore, but they insisted, come and stay with us. This is the nature of Jesus; this is the nature of the mind of God. He does not force His presence upon anybody. He leaves it to them whether they will recognise that there is something there that they yearn for in fellowship with Him. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

This is repeated in the experience of Abraham as he saw the three travellers walking past. Instead of just letting them go past he called out to them and ran after them and said, come and stay with me. They made to move on and he said no; he insisted, stay with me, and he made a meal for them. As a consequence of that, God could speak to him. Lot sitting outside the gate saw the two angels but they were two men walking past. Lot insisted that they come and stay at his home. Jesus will not force His companionship; He waits for people to care about Him, to care what blessing He can impart to them if they would only care about His yearning for them.

This picture of behold I stand at the door and knock and waiting for the person to open the door, the place that Jesus quoted from was Song of Solomon where He is portrayed in prophecy along these very veins of thought. The church is typified by the woman and the church is reclining in bed, comfortable in their little heaven of their own comfort zone.

Song of Solomon 5:2 I sleep, but my heart waketh: [it is] the voice of my beloved that knocketh, [saying], Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, [and] my locks with the drops of the night.

Here is a distinct picture of Jesus in Gethsemane having been out all night praying and He is saying please can I come in? I want to bless you. What does the church say/the woman say? I am in my comfort zone.

Song of Solomon 5:3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

I have to get up and make my feet dirty on the floor again, oh dear. The comfort zone is too comfortable to get up.

Song of Solomon 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door], and my bowels were moved for him.

In those days they had the latch on the inside and there was a little hole; his fingers were trying to get to the latch but he couldn’t anyway. The yearning of Jesus trying to get in touches the heart of the woman and her bowels were moved for him. He loves me and wants to help me, oh dear.

Song of Solomon 5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped [with] myrrh, and my fingers [with] sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

This languid, drooping way of getting to the door.

Song of Solomon 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Jesus had yearned to come into fellowship with us and we are so in our little heaven of comfort. He is dependent upon us to open. His hand of love is in the hole, He has come and touched us with our experiences. His intense longing to touch us is there but we are so lethargic. We like to stay in our little comfort zone.

As we contemplate this intense engagement of Jesus with us, it does exactly what the woman said. I saw His hand coming through the door and my bowels were moved. The incentive to get out of your comfort zone was being stirred.

2 Corinthians 5: 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Here are the blessings of the Saviour’s fellowship with man. He says may I come in? I want to sup with you. I want you to sup with me so that I can sup with you. That is the yearning. You who are experiencing eating and drinking the consequences of your own actions, your sins; I want you to sup with Me, I want you to experience with Me the sins together, you and I. He was made to be sin. For what purpose? So that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Do we care? Do we care about Jesus enough so that we will come down out of our fleshly heaven which is so decrepit and nothing in comparison with the heaven that Jesus left for us? To come out of our comfort zone and take hold of Jesus together with us suffering with our sins and then wanting to impart to us His righteousness, Jesus stands by to enter into the sinner’s fellowship in order that His righteousness might be imparted to the sinner. Do we care? Do we care about Jesus? He enters the experience of a hopeless sinner that suffers guilt and horror. He says I am here to suffer this with you so that you can enjoy communion of righteousness and peace which is mine. I want you to have what I have and I want to take what you have; I want to sup with you.

As we were looking at the scenes of Christ’s life climaxing at Gethsemane and the cross and a final resurrection and ascension; all this has a purpose to invite us into a close fellowship with Jesus. These scenes of beholding Jesus in His life of the cross and Gethsemane and the cross at the end, is the knocking of Jesus upon our heart’s door. I am doing my utmost to save you, do you care? I want to come in and spend time with you. I want to spend fellowship with you in your suffering so that you can fellowship with my sufferings and with my eternal blessed peace, my righteousness.

Who cares to let the Saviour in? We today are a very caring society. We care about our family even though the family may have done us a lot of hardship, we still care for our family. We care for our animals. We put such care into our business life. As the song says, have you any room for Jesus? There is no room for Jesus; there is no time for Him. It’s a little bit like Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha was so busy caring to provide food for Jesus. Of course we are caring, but Jesus was wanting something more from Martha. Mary was taking what He came to provide. What is the warning for us in this picture?

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?

Haven’t we cared? We have prophesied, we have laboured.

Matthew 7:21 …and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Notice how Jesus answers. You have cared; you have done all this work.

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

You see, while you did all those works, while you were active, caring, telling other people about Jesus, you never supped with Me. You never received My righteousness; you never entered into what Apostle Paul was writing about to come down out of the heaven of your own making. You did not come down and acknowledge your sinfulness, acknowledge your corruption, to keep those commandments as you should have; you did not receive the righteousness that I came to provide for you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  This is really serious material to think about.

These may profess to be followers of Christ, but they have lost sight of their Leader. They may say, “Lord, Lord”; they may point to the sick who are healed through them, and to other marvelous works, and claim that they have more of the Spirit and power of God than is manifested by those who keep His law. {7BC 975.12} 

We are doing so many Christlike things and here are these law keepers that are not doing all these things. We do more.

But their works are done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness, whose aim it is to deceive souls, and are designed to lead away from obedience, truth, and duty. In the near future there will be still more marked manifestations of this miracle-working power; for it is said of him, “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (ST Feb. 26, 1885).  {7BC 975.12} 

They profess to be faithful carers of souls but Jesus said you don’t seem to care about Me and what I am after in your life.

Saddest of all words that ever fell on mortal ear are those words of doom, “I know you not.” The fellowship of the Spirit, which you have slighted, could alone make you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast. .  {COL 413.1} 

The fellowship of the Spirit was slighted. We can be so full of care, so full of doing what we need to do that we bypass the fellowship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As we bypass that, we do not know Him and He does not know us and so there can be no joyous fellowship in the heaven above.

In that scene you cannot participate. Its light would fall on blinded eyes, its melody upon deaf ears. Its love and joy could awake no chord of gladness in the world-benumbed heart. You are shut out from heaven by your own unfitness for its companionship.  {COL 413.1}

I know you not. There is so much to think about as to what Jesus is really looking for.

Mark 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 

Some of the wheat falls among the thorns and thistles and the weeds. The cares of this world. There are so many cares that we have to take on board because we care, but these will prevent us from caring about Jesus. We get so busy that we have no time to fellowship and appreciate the amazing work and sacrifice of Jesus. As we are to be saved by the Word, we do not have time for the Word. The Word falls amongst all these cares and all these occupations and choke that which is going to save us. Yes, a very caring humanity but without Jesus.

There are many professing Christians who know not Christ by an experimental knowledge. {1SM 81.4}

Did you notice the word experimental? We need to have an experimental; some people say experiential; experimental is something we engage in, an interchange.

Oh, how my heart aches for these poor, deceived, unprepared souls! As I stand before congregations, and see the self-sufficient, self-righteous ones, and know that they are not preparing themselves to do acceptable work for Christ, and to meet Him in peace, I am so burdened that I cannot sleep. I ask myself, What can I say to these souls that will arouse them to a sense of their true condition? Self is the all-absorbing theme of their life. I long to reveal Christ so plainly that they will behold Him, and cease to center their attention on self {1SM 81.4}

Among those to whom bitter disappointment will come at the day of final reckoning will be some who have been outwardly religious, and who apparently have lived Christian lives. But self is woven into all they do. They pride themselves on their morality, their influence, their ability to stand in a higher position than others, [and] their knowledge of the truth, for they think that these will win for them the commendation of Christ. {1SM 81.5}

What a statement! They are all occupied with the heaven of our own opinion in matters of Christianity even.

“Lord,” they plead, “we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26). “Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22).  {1SM 81.5}

But Christ says, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me.” {1SM 82.1}

This is something deep to meditate about.

The very blessings which God has given to these men to prove them, to see if they will render “unto God the things that are God’s,” they use as an excuse that they cannot obey the claims of truth. They have grasped their earthly treasure in their arms and say, “I must take care of these things; I must not neglect the things of this life; these things are mine.” Thus the hearts of these men have become as unimpressible as the beaten highway. They close the door of their hearts to the heavenly messenger, who says, “Come; for all things are now ready,” and throw it open, inviting the entrance of the world’s burden and business cares, and Jesus knocks in vain for admittance.  {3T 384.1} 

What do they do? They throw the heart open inviting the entrance of the world’s burden and business cares and Jesus knocks in vain. How sad! How serious! With all our preoccupation in this present fast age, isn’t that where we are situated today? Everything is so fast; there is so much to care about; so much that is burdened upon our hearts. Is it possible that in this Laodicean period Jesus is left behind? We have left Jesus outside. We care so much about everything else. We have such an experience with Mary and Joseph to illustrate this danger and this problem.

Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not [of it].

Isn’t it interesting, what an interesting illustration? They leave the festivities now that they are over and they travel back home but they are not aware that Jesus is not with them. He has been left behind.

Luke 2:44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among [their] kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

They were occupied in the cares of travelling back home after they had been to a very important spiritual feast talking with the people around them expecting Jesus to be there because they thought Jesus is there all the time. Isn’t He with us all the time? Are we thinking He is and really we have left Him behind? This is a very important meditation.

Meanwhile Joseph and Mary were in great perplexity and distress. In the departure from Jerusalem they had lost sight of Jesus, and they knew not that He had tarried behind. The country was then densely populated, and the caravans from Galilee were very large. There was much confusion as they left the city. On the way the pleasure of traveling with friends and acquaintances absorbed their attention, {DA 80.4}

Isn’t that interesting? Caring about our association with each other that absorbs our attention.

and they did not notice His absence till night came on. Then as they halted for rest, they missed the helpful hand of their child. Supposing Him to be with their company, they had felt no anxiety. Young as He was, they had trusted Him implicitly, expecting that when needed, He would be ready to assist them, anticipating their wants as He had always done. But now their fears were roused. They searched for Him throughout their company, but in vain. Shuddering they remembered how Herod had tried to destroy Him in His infancy. Dark forebodings filled their hearts. They bitterly reproached themselves.  {DA 80.4}

Now they have returned to Jerusalem.

If Joseph and Mary had stayed their minds upon God by meditation and prayer, they would have realized the sacredness of their trust, and would not have lost sight of Jesus. By one day’s neglect they lost the Saviour; but it cost them three days of anxious search to find Him. So with us; by idle talk, evilspeaking, or neglect of prayer, we may in one day lose the Saviour’s presence, and it may take many days of sorrowful search to find Him, and regain the peace that we have lost.  {DA 83.1}

This is a deep meditation to take Jesus with you in all the responsibilities of life; that is what Mary and Joseph’s story illustrated where they failed. They neglected Him and continued with their own mind-occupations just taking for granted that Jesus may be there. How many times do we do that? Then we wonder what’s happening and we start to feel anxious. The peace that passes all understanding is no longer with us.

Although we may profess, although we may be in a high position and the works that we are doing are caring for people, caring for their needs, aren’t we doing a good job? Lord, haven’t we done this and haven’t we done that? But their works were done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness. What did they neglect? They neglected obedience, truth, and duty.

In our daily round of life we have something to consider. We have a relationship with Jesus to consider. Remember the cross of Jesus is companionship of Jesus with us. If we have Jesus with us but we are not with Him in this fellowship, then it is very lopsided and Jesus is saying I wish that people could understand. He is longing, He is yearning for our participation with Him in the caring for souls around us. If I do it without Him, it is the deceiver, it is done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness who works as an angel of light.

May God grant us that we can care so much about Jesus. Caring about how He suffered with us that we may please Him and make Him happy. That we would reward Him for His suffering by understanding His suffering and entering into it with Him as the Apostle Paul said, that I may understand this; I have given up everything else for Him. This is my prayer that we will enter into such an intimate fellowship with Him and never let the cares of this world take us away from Him.

Amen.

Posted on August 15, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons, The Power of the Cross and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Very good!

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