Have you ever had an appointment that loomed in front of you? Dentist appointments are like that for me. I don’t mind having my normal routine six-month check-up, but if there’s any work that needs to be done, that date on the calendar looks at me like an angry bull. I know it’s coming, and I dread it. I even make references to other dates around that one date. “That upcoming meeting will be after that appointment. We go on vacation just before the appointment. On and on it goes until the thing is finally over.
When Christ came to this earth, He came to die for our sins – that was always before Him. While I know that He did it willingly and because He loved us, I also see in Scripture that the cross was always looming before Him. He made many references to His death and the suffering as He walked and ministered. In Mark 14, for example, Mary of Bethany has come and annointed His head with oil and was then rebuked by onlookers for the “waste” of the perfume. Jesus said in verses 6-8, “Let her alone: why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to annoint my body to the buying.” This is only one of many times that Christ makes reference to His suffering and death that is to come. It was always before Him. He always knew that He would suffer the wrath of God toward our sin as He bore our punishment in our place!
An amazing thing about this is that He could have said “no.” He could have retreated, but He didn’t. He fulfilled God’s plan for our salvation, spite the awfulness, the isolation from His Father, and the pain of the cross. That date with death was fulfilled (but praise the Lord, so was His resurrection!).
As I’ve pondered this thought in recent days, it makes me shake my head at my own whimpiness. Our Savior had the cross and all its suffering ahead of Him, yet He kept pressing forward. He kept on, knowing that this “appointment” with the cross would come. My pressing forward for Christ brings no suffering. I can serve Him without risks on my life. No pain is involved, no persecution, yet I choose my way instead of His. I serve if it’s convenient, if it’s easy, if I feel like it.
Is this really following Christ? No. For He said, “Deny yourself. Take up your cross.” You know what? The times that I really do that, there is no dread in it! There is only joy, because the things that are accomplished are what only God can do. Is this why the Scripture says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God”? (Hebrews 12:2)
What happens when I keep the appointment with denying myself? What is the result when I serve when I don’t necessarily feel like it? What happens when I do His will and not mine? His name is glorified, and I am becoming more like my Savior. Little by little. No, there’s no dread in that!
Are you denying yourself consistently, or only being obedient when it’s easy? Consider the dread of the cross that Christ took for you…then follow His example.