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What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 47 (Easter)

47. Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

Finish Race

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Perspective, perspective, perspective. Before we understand Christ’s perspective, we must understand ours. Fixing our eyes upon Jesus.

The Greek word for fixing is defined: to look away from other things and look only on one thing. There is an aspect of turning one’s back and to look away as part of the process.

There is a multitude of verses which speak to this exclusivity. It’s not just a simple matter of making Jesus first, with a panoply of other options, interests, needs, wants and preferences crowding in behind Him. Yes, He is in front, but there are all those distractions insinuating themselves behind Him; many seeking to supplant and usurp Him. And since we essentially have no will power, we need to clear the deck, turn away from all else and fix our eyes only on Jesus.

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ( James 4:4)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. ( John 15:19)

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)

Country Asphalt road in strong flare

The last two verses demand our attention in regard to our perspective. Jesus is not just a choice—not even a first choice. Nor is He our last choice. He is our only choice. He is our only master, our only God. There cannot be another. So when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, there are no distractions, no colorful backdrop, not even a context. There is only Jesus. And when He is all you see, then you will have the appropriate perspective for everything else.

Who for the joy set before Him.

Before we ponder the joy, we should consider what was set before Him, that which was the source of the joy. The Greek word for set before has an interesting application. It could be restated as lie before, which can refer to a dead body laying in state. Now I’m not sensing a whole lot of joy coming out of that particular app, but is speaks accurately to our condition. Without Christ, we are dead in our sins and trespasses. We are a corpse. He saw our condition, knew what was to be done, and did it. Thus He saw the joy for His obedience, and saw the joy for the glory it brought His Father, and He saw the joy in raising us from the dead.

Set before can also apply to an infant, which also speaks to our state after we have been saved by Him: we are—in the words of Peter—newborn babes (1 Pet 2:2;1 Cor 3:1).

There is also an exposed sense to the word; as a prize that is set before all who would see it. We should consider this exposure. When God looks upon us, there is nothing hidden. All our private thoughts, concealed attitudes, secret sins—and what ever else we would seek to disguise—all lay open and  bare to His omniscient gaze. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? It should, unless you have been hidden in Christ, so when God turns His omniscient gaze upon you, all He sees is Christ.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. ( Ephesians 5:6-13)

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. ( John 3:20-21)

So we’ve seen examples of what may have been set before Him; and since God the Son is omniscient, then surely there were more things which He saw set before Him. The defeat of sin, Satan, death and the grave. Accomplishing the work given to Him by His Father. We must not forget that He saw you and me specifically and individually. The was not a general redemption. He died and rose again for you. All the other things that were set before Him—and they are myriad—should pale in comparison, when you know the Holy Son of God, Jesus the Christ, died for you. You were on His heart and mind. You were set before Him.

There’s the joy. And if Christ could push through, look past all the yuck, there is the key for us to do the same.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ( Jas 1:2-4)

James tells us why we are going through trials, and the end result. But Jesus show us how. So we can consider it all joy when we look not to the trials, or the situation. Or even the results. We must look to Jesus. Again, not our first choice, nor our last choice, but our only choice.

Tomorrow a recap of What God Gave Up for Lent

 

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 5

5. Can You Look?

Cross and Crowd

For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me. (Psalm 22:16-17)

For dogs have surrounded me. The meanings behind the word dog are quite potent. Besides the actual animal, it can refer to base and contemptuous men, pagan sacrifices, and male prostitutes. Here it has to do with base and contemptuous men. Paul associates other types of men with dogs: Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision. (Phil 3:2) Who are those of the false circumcision? That would be the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were so wrapped up in their ritual and their status, they not only missed Messiah, but they put Him to death. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:36) Now, when you think of the crowd that surrounded the cross of our Savior, and many of them were from the religious community, let us be mindful that it is not a difficult thing to be so distracted with rules, or with minutiae, or with self and our own righteousness, we can lose sight of the Savior, and our lives and expectations become base and contemptuous.

They pierced my hands and my feet. Whereas this was a prayer and song of David, and many of these circumstances took place within his own life, there is no doubt that he is looking through the lens of divine revelation when he speaks of his hands and feet being pierced. For indeed, he speaks not of himself, but of the suffering Christ.

They look, they stare at me. We return to the crowd that surrounded our Lord. Can you identify with any of them?

Are you like Mary whose eyes were filled with tears, whose body was wracked with sorrow, making it nearly impossible to see her Son clearly?

Are you like the disciples who could not look up, because they were overwhelmed by their shame?

Do you turn away in abhorrence and disgust, unable to look upon One so tortured, so maimed, so disfigured, that you are physically and emotionally ill?

Maybe you’re a crowd watcher. You’re consumed by the surrounding drama and distracted from what is really going on. Did you miss the point?

Or are you like the religious folk, observers who watched from a distance, who stared, who gazed, who nodded in approval, and looked to one another; who inspect and gave close attention to each “deserved” laceration and wound, the flow of blood, the thorns and the nails that pierced Him?

Are you willing to look upon the sorrow, the pain, the suffering and anguish of the Savior? Can you look past the brokenness and wounds, torture and ruin, and gaze a little deeper to see the disfigurement and deformity caused by the sins laid upon Him? Your sins and the sins of the world?

Finally, what can you do to get those around you, to look at the Savior? That they may see their guilt and sin He took upon Himself so they might be saved? And then to look a bit further and see the love that held Him there, the love that would not let Him stay in the grave, and the love which purchased your forgiveness and salvation. Will you look? Do you understand? Will you help others see?

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