Apr 23, 2008

Chew on This

I have taken so many notes this week that the sermons and teachings are starting to run together. I can't seem to remember who said what and where we were when we had the class. In order to put things right in my brain I thought I would share one of the lessons I learned this week.

Welcome to Elevate Chapel...

Michelle brought us a great teaching from Matthew 16:24 at this week's chapel service; it goes a little like this:

Matt 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me." (Red = the words of Jesus)

We are big about studying the scripture in its original context so Michelle gave us a little history lesson before she really got into her teaching.
  • It was about 27AD when Jesus was speaking to his disciples. This was a period in history when your name determined everything about you. It determined your career, your social status, and how far you could get in life.
  • Rabbi - a teacher
  • Talmidim - a follower of a Rabbi, they had to go through sort of an application process in order to be chosen by the Rabbi to follow him. You know the Rabbi would have wanted someone he thought was good enough to be know as his student.
  • The goal of the Talmidim was to become so much like the Rabbi that they weren't recognized by their own name anymore. They were recognized as "students of such and such Rabbi"
So when Jesus was walking along the beach calling out to Peter and the other fisherman to come and follow Him, they knew exactly what He was asking them. Jesus was a respected Rabbi. The disciples jumped at the chance to follow Jesus because it was their ticket out of the life of a fisherman. You see, if they were fishing it was because no one else wanted them as students so they were trained in the profession of their fathers, aka fisherman. Jesus took the leftovers, the ones that weren't worth the effort, and by choosing them in this unconventional way He was saying "I believe in you."

But Jesus had to straighten them out a bit right in the beginning. He was not the conventional Rabbi. He was different from the rest. If you followed Him it wasn't going to be glamorous. So he let them have it in Matt 16:24.

Back to the Verse:
Matt 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me."
  • The word "Cross" in the scripture above is usually misinterpreted to mean the cross of Jesus, but Jesus hadn't been crucified yet so the disciples wouldn't have been thinking of that cross. They were thinking of the cross a criminal carries to his death. It represented suffering, troubles, pain, loneliness, the price of their sin or the crime they committed which lead ultimately to crucifiction and death.
  • The words "Take Up" in the original Greek mean to elevate or lift up to God.

To sum this up:

cross = troubles
take up = give to God
end result of cross = death by crucifiction

So Jesus was saying in effect: lift up your pain, suffering, troubles, sins to God to they can be crucified and removed from your life and you can follow Him. There is a daily taking up of the crosses in our life when we seek to be followers of Christ.

But Michelle had a good point, this isn't about giving up what you want , it is about shifting to what God wants for your life. God's definition of love is laying down your life, so if you love Him, or anyone else for that matter, you will lay down your life for them ... not in the literal dieing way, but in the shifting what you want to what they want way, the laying down of your selfish desires way.

Chew on that for a while. If you like the flavor you may want to try out the Healing Place School of Ministry, aka Elevate. You get to learn stuff like this all the time...it is way cool. Well, I hope you enjoyed your mini hermeneutics lesson for the day, thanks to Michelle Gros, Dean of Students at Healing Place School of Ministry.

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