Self-seeking or Self-giving

KEY VERSE: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” —Matthew 16:24

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 16:13-26

JESUS, knowing that he was destined to die upon a cross, used the cross to symbolize the fact that his death would be a sin-offering for the world.

Jesus’ work of sacrifice began at Jordan, where he offered himself to the Father in complete consecration. There he fully surrendered himself. For three and one-half years he continued this work of laying down his life, entailing a course of suffering, humiliation, and misunderstanding by the world. It was finally completed upon the cross of Calvary by his actual death.

We believe that the daily suffering, the sacrificing, and the final death are all included in the thought of the sin-offering. In Hebrews, chapter thirteen, verses eleven to thirteen, Paul specifically included Jesus’ suffering as part of the sin-offering picture. Whereas suffering could not atone for the sins of the world, it was an integral part of the picture from the moment the sacrifice began. Note Isaiah 53:10,12: “Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, … he hath poured out his soul unto death.” Not only at the moment of expiration of life on the cross, but for three and one-half years Jesus poured out his soul unto death, unto the cross.

Concerning the purpose for Jesus’ sufferings, the Scriptures provide the following reasons: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and [thus] being made perfect.” “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”—Heb. 5:8,9; 4:15; 2:17,18

By the things which he endured and the experiences encountered, Jesus was being prepared to carry out his role as a kingly priest to bless all nations. The Bible speaks of a mystery which was “hid from ages and generations but [which] now is made manifest to his saints.” What is this mystery? It is: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”—Col. 1:26,27

From this and related texts we understand that the Christ is not just one individual; rather, it is a class, consisting of the Head and body members. The entire Christ class, we find, is to be given a share in this stupendous role of sacrifice. All the members are to walk the same pathway as their Head and Master, and to lay down their lives in the service of God. Collectively, these “better sacrifices” are considered as the one grand offering for sin. Stated another way, the Heavenly Father has arranged for all the members of Christ’s body to share in the offering for sin by counting their sacrifices as part of Jesus’ sacrifice. We see in this a wonderful privilege extended to all who would follow the Master, while recognizing at the same time that this is a matter of reckoning on the Father’s part, since all the redeeming merit stems from Jesus alone.

From the human point of view, the trials and experiences which make up the church’s sacrifice do not appear any different from those present in the world at large. Yet, under the direction and control of our Lord, these are accomplishing significant purposes. One is the molding and developing of the character of the Lord’s people, which is so necessary for the proper functioning of the sympathetic priesthood class in the next age.

May we not soberly ask ourselves, What am I doing in the way of sacrifice, in promulgating the Lord’s work? This may well be the most important consideration for us in life! God has made possible the church’s share in the sin-offering, but are we making full use of this feature of grace? Let us remember our vow of consecration unto death, and endeavor to honor our commitment to him. If we carry our cross faithfully now, we shall rejoice throughout all eternity!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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