Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Ashamed

Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson for 7.6.12
Yesterday I was so mad at my father! He took this beautiful little lamb out behind the house and he killed it. Can you believe that? He said this guy, Moses, told him to, for some dumb reason. Dad tried to explain it to me, but I didn’t want to hear it. Especially when I heard that mom was going to cook up the cute little critter and we were supposed to eat it this last night.
Believe me, supper last night was definitely the strangest meal I’ve ever eaten. We stood around and ate all dressed like we were going on a trip. And while mom was getting the meal ready, my dad did something really weird, and kind of gross. He took a branch from a bush and a bowl with the lamb’s blood in it and painted it all around our front door. I just could not wrap my mind around the explanation he gave me. It was from that Moses guy again, something about some kind of plague thing that was going to happen to all the firstborns and whatever. It all sounded like some kind of superstitious mumbo jumbo to me, and I was pretty embarrassed to think that my father had been one of the ones taken in by it.

But then, somewhere after midnight my dad woke me up and told me we were leaving Egypt right then. We gathered all of our things, met up with all our neighbors and started walking. There were so many people and animals, all walking together.
As we walked along I heard other people talking to each other about what had happened to the Egyptians at midnight. Every firstborn had died – every single one. I even heard people say that some Jewish families had lost firstborns. Apparently those families hadn’t listened to Moses when he was telling them about putting the lamb’s blood around the door, or they thought it was just some kind of superstitious mumbo jumbo.
My heart started beating faster and my head felt like it was filled with bees. I felt beads of sweat forming on my forehead as the realization hit me – I am a firstborn! What if my father had not done the necessary things yesterday? I tried to think of what he’d said. “Without this blood, no one can be saved.”

Have you ever been embarrassed to admit that you are a Christian? When someone characterizes all Christians as uneducated and superstitious, do you try to shrink into the background? Are you ever afraid that someone will ask you if you’re a Christian? Many of us are.

Have you ever been in a situation in which your survival depended completely and totally on someone else? I have a friend whose kidneys have stopped working. She needs a new kidney – that is her only chance to get well. A couple of weeks ago, an old friend of hers offered to donate one of her kidneys.  My friend is overwhelmed at the thought of someone she knows being willing to give her such an incredible gift. “How do you thank someone for saving your life?”

Do you think my friend is embarrassed to talk about what this other friend has done for her? Absolutely not! She is awed by the gift, but never embarrassed.
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Sometimes we like to think that those of us who are alive right now have a harder time than people who worshipped Jesus a long time ago. Maybe that’s true, but God’s people have always been at risk for being portrayed as less intelligent than those who don’t believe.
“In a piece of ancient graffiti discovered in Rome that dates back to about the time of Paul, we can get a glimpse of the type of razzing and contempt that Christians must have experienced as a result of their faith. … It depicts a crucifixion scene where the individual on the cross has the head of a donkey but the body of a man. Beside the cross a young man can be seen kneeling in worship. Scratched below the cross is the statement: ‘Alexander worships [his] god.’ The point is obvious—Christians were seen as stupid for believing in Jesus.”[1]
Clearly, some things never change. Many people think now as people did then, that Jesus Christ failed at His mission because He died. We know that’s just not true and that His death was valuable and necessary to pay for our sins.
“Christ was the one who consented to meet the conditions necessary for man’s salvation. No angel, no man, was sufficient for the great work to be wrought. The Son of man alone must be lifted up; for only an infinite nature could undertake the redemptive process. Christ consented to connect himself with the disloyal and sinful, to partake of the nature of man, to give his own blood, and to make his soul an offering for sin.”(E.G. White, Signs of the Times, March 5, 1896
Jesus did what had to be done. In fact, He and God worked out all the details before They ever created Earth. He knew that we would fail and had His plan ready when we did. Jesus was not ashamed to leave His place of King of the Universe to become a lowly human on Earth. Jesus was not ashamed to be the Son of an unwed mother who lived in a town with a bad reputation. Jesus was not ashamed to work as a carpenter. Jesus was not ashamed to be found in the company of prostitutes and tax collectors.

Jesus knew what He had to do to ensure all of us a chance to live with Him forever and He was not ashamed to do it.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was 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 endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4
Read it again, it says, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame …” Not only was Jesus not ashamed to become one of us, He did everything He did “for the joy that was set before Him.” What was that joy that caused Him to willingly do the terrible things that needed to be done?

You and I are that joy.

I am not ashamed to be the joy of Jesus. What about you?
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16 AMP

[1] Carl P. Cosaert , The Lesson in Brief and Learning Cycle, Lessons 1–13, Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide – Teachers’  Edition

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