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How can this possibly be God’s will? How can the things that are good, godly, and incredible blessings, possibly be those things that God now calls me to lay down for him?
God did bring the ram in the thicket for Abraham, but he didn’t for Jesus. Jesus called to God and no ram was to be found. In fact, Jesus was the ram.
Jesus’ ministry was in it’s “hey day.” Lame walked, blind saw, demon-possessed were free. Had Jesus not been willing to hear and obey the Father’s call to lay aside his earthly ministry, even though it was good, godly, “successful,” and clearly reflected God’s will, there would have been no cross.
God called Jesus to lay aside the excellent, beautiful ministry he had among people, and to venture down the Path of Suffering to the brutality of the cross. Humanly speaking, this didn’t make sense. His disciples had expected that “things were just getting good,” that they would now link arms with Jesus to usher in the dawn of a new age. An age of victory over Rome! Hail the conquering heroes!
God had different ideas. Somehow, the Father had in mind that the persecution of the Romans would not only continue, but it would intensify. God intended that Jesus would set aside the immeasurably good for something that appeared horrific–the cross.
If Jesus hadn’t been willing, there would have been no cross, no redemption, no salvation. Had he clung to his ministry and said, “But look at this, Father! This is great! This is what you have always wanted on earth! This is a godly, pure, wonderful ministry that is making a difference! I will keep on doing this ministry since this MUST be what you want!” then all the people in all the world — you and me — would be doomed to hell.
I know that what is facing me is nowhere near so significant a calling as that to which Jesus was called. But I also know that the mandate is similar. He calls me to come and die. Die to all of the things that he has told me in all my years as a believer (32 of them now) are good, wonderful, godly things to fight for…he calls me to surrender them now…to die to these very things. To surrender to the brutality of a cross of sorts.
I don’t get it.
But I know that is the call.
I am just not sure how I will manage it.