“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28 NLT)

Damaras Carbaugh, sang a song entitled “Willingly” on her 1996 album, Giving My Life Away. It was written by Phil and Marie Armenia. You can listen to the song on You Tube. The lyrics are: 

Verse 1:“No one takes My life; I give it willingly. Holy Lamb, beaten and abused; His disciples, fearful and confused. Never understanding, things were meant to end this way; so in His pain and suffering, He turned with love to say, (Chorus) No one takes My life; I give it willingly. For I can see the glory past the cross. So dry your eyes, My friends, and please don’t weep for Me. No one takes My life; I give it willingly.

Verse 2: His Holy life shines in my heart; and its brilliance sets my life apart. Friends who live in darkness say they weep for me. They say my dreams have changed since Jesus took my life from me. (Chorus) No one takes my life, I give it willingly. For I can see the glory in the cross. So dry your eyes, my friends, and please don’t weep for me. No one takes my life; I give it willingly. No one takes my life; Jesus gives me life. Lord Jesus, use my life; I give it willingly, willingly, willingly.”

Is there anything for which you’re willing to lay down your life? You only have one shot at this life and it will pass more quickly than you can imagine. And, whether you realize it or not, you ARE laying your life down for that in which you invest your time and money. How do I know that? Because Jesus said in Matthew 6:21: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Notice He DIDN’T say: “Wherever the desires of your heart are, there your treasure will be also.” Your heart will follow the money! 

For many years I chased after wealth and material things. I had “noble” ideas like: “It will enable me to give more to the church.” “I’ll be able to help more people.” Etc. But at the root of my pursuits was always the big “I” – me, me, me – “Show me da money!” What changed? I finally began to believe what I was preaching to other people. I took a long, hard look at the Cross and finally understood the two words that changed the direction of my life – “For Me!” 

Jesus didn’t have to come to earth as a babe in a manger. He didn’t suffer the abuse, humiliation and pain for anything He did wrong. He didn’t deserve to hang, nailed to a cross, suspended between heaven and earth. He willingly laid down His life for no other reason than He knew we, me and you, and every other person who would ever live, were hopelessly lost and destined for an eternity of suffering and torment, unless He voluntarily stepped in to pay the sin-debt we could never pay.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

In light of the Cross, selling ourselves for “earth-stuff” is like trying to swim the ocean for a candy bar. What’s the point? Jesus didn’t die simply for us to be forgiven, so we could continue to live in bondage to the sin-debt that He willingly paid. He died to give us a quality of life that would give us a sense of worth, well-being and purpose that would outlive this world. He died so that we might live free of our bondage to sin.

He purchased our freedom from sin, death and the grave to enable us to invest ourselves in His eternal Kingdom. He gave His life for us, in order that we might give our lives back to Him as a gift of gratitude, not begrudgingly, but willingly.

In John 15:13 Jesus said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We’re quick to immediately apply that to what Jesus did for us, and it is. But that’s not the point of what He’s saying here. He’s speaking these words to His disciples hours before He would be betrayed, beaten, spit upon and brutally murdered on a cross – yes, for His “friends.” But who are His friends? Verse 14 tells us: “You are my friends if you do what I command.” What does He command? In verse 17 He gives us the answer: “This is My command: Love each other.” 

We’ll look more closely at what that might look like tomorrow.

Blessings, Ed

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