The most unfathomable concept in all of Christianity is the fact that Jesus died for us. This wasn’t some romantic fairy tale death of a hero. Nor was it the death of a man whom everyone knew deserved it. His was a real death, dirty, painful and torturous. He endured things that you and I can scarcely imagine, much less ever have to experience. Why? Because He loved us; He knew this was the only way. This was His mission. It was not something he necessarily wanted to endure, but He was willing to do so because He knew it was the only way. He would have to become the sacrifice so we might live. It’s odd to me that we often gloss over His death and how rarely we truly dwell on it. True, His resurrection is the brilliant culmination of the story, and the part that made it all worth it. But there would have been no resurrection had He not first chosen to die.
One of the things I often contemplate is what my reaction would be if I had to choose between being put to death and denying Christ. I am confident I would choose death. What if the choice was between ongoing torture and denying Christ, would my answer change? An untold number of our brothers and sisters in Christ face this very decision every day of their lives. Although I have some trepidation as to what effect physical torture might have on my resolve, I feel I can honestly say still that I would choose Christ and not deny Him. If you are a devoted follower of Jesus, I suspect that you feel the same as I do. No one wants to face a violent death or brutal torture, but we know He endured both of these things for us; we must be willing to do the same for Him.
Which leads me to an uncomfortable question: if we are willing to die for Christ, why is it we continually refuse to die to self? Are we more important than Christ? We say we would die for Him, but we won’t give up certain parts of our life to Him. “I’ll do anything for You Jesus, I’ll even die for you… just don’t ask me to give up [insert your idol of choice here]”. It cheapens our supposed commitment to Him. To imply that we are too precious to die for is almost blasphemous. He did not consider His own life too special to not offer it up for you. Yet every day we refuse to die to self, every time we protect our personal idols, we tell Him He’s just not worth it. God forgive us for our ignorance and our hardened hearts.
What parts of your life are you refusing to give up? Which parts of your life have you resisted putting to death? He gave up everything for us. It will be difficult and may cause some anguish. We may beg to hold on to our little idols. But only a life that is submitted to Christ in every area can claim to be following in the way of Christ. He did it for us; we must do it for Him. He died for us; we say we’d die for Him. But are we first willing to die to ourselves?