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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Man of sorrows, Man of surrender

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.
And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh He to His disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Matt. 26:37-45).

What is surrender if it doesn’t hurt? What is surrender if we are not at our wits’ end?

“They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” (Ps. 107:26,27).

Isn’t that what we see in Jesus? He was at His wit’s end. All His life His constant, happy song to His Father had been David’s. “Thou wilt shew Me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11).

But, now the only song that came so painfully from His tormented, down turned mouth was, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” (Matt. 26:39). How to escape the sudden dismaying loss of the former, excellent atmosphere of His Abba’s blissful presence was uppermost in His immediate reaction to the sudden, total evacuation of His Father’s peace. Jesus was drinking the cup of “the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His [Father’s] indignation; and [He was] tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels,… And the smoke of [His] torment [ascended] up for ever and ever: and [He had] no rest day nor night.” (Rev. 14:10,11).

As so many times before, the Son of God was truly “beside Himself” (Mk. 3:21). But, this was not a physical distress, as it had been during His whole life. What came over Him in Gethsemane was different. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.” (Isa. 53:5). It was the guilt of ten billion unpardonable sins that weighed so heavily upon Jesus. Haven’t we experienced the chastisement of our peace? The whole world—all who have ever lived—has, or it all couldn’t have been put upon Him for the whole world. The whole world’s incomprehensible, accumulated unmet emotional need, the depression, the world’s infinite sadness, Jesus’ yearning to lean wholly upon His beloved Abba. His spiritual pangs were completely out of His control. All He could do was what He had already practiced under previous trials—seek His Father with all that was within Him—talk to God until He was heard. And He was heard, but without a satisfying reply.

“Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Heb. 5:7-9).

Everything within us must be challenged. The very life of our soul must be on the verge of collapse. We must know what Mary said to Christ, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” (John 20:13). Distraught, distressed beyond measure, the Man of infinite sorrows knew infinite surrender. And infinite surrender didn’t come until He was not only fully cast down, but infinitely destroyed. Not until Christ was lost, guilty of the unpardonable sin and disoriented, and stripped of all restful peace could we identify with His identical human experience with us, which He coveted. Then we could be found with peace and rest in Him. He must know all that has caused us sorrow in our separation from God; and if we follow His example, then in our infinite sorrow He will teach us surrender. In the midst of our sorrow we must say with our Lord, “…nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

Surrender is full of sorrow, and sorrow is full of surrender. It’s not surrender until we have lost our life. If it wasn’t painful to surrender up our sins then we haven’t surrendered them up. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25). “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39). Surrender is of our will, our sins, our spiritual life, and the ultimate surrender is of our literal, actual life. And when that happens we won’t have friends and family standing around to witness it and congratulate us, as in water baptism. We will be among enemies, or alone in the world. Only faith will prevail then, faith that sees a ring of fiery angels surrounding us. By faith we must see “an innumerable company of angels,… the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven, and … God the Judge of all, and … the spirits of just men made perfect, and … Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” (Heb. 12:22-24).

All the tests and trials and distresses that took us to our wits’ lead up to that ultimate surrender.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.
For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.” (Ps. 107:21-32).

Every opportunity to surrender to self-denial is preparation for the final surrender of self. If we aren’t willing to concede to those smaller baptisms of fire, we will come up to the final surrender and final baptism of fire unprepared. We will fail out of final surrender of self and deny the Lord as Peter did.

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:49,50). God, our Schoolmaster, first sends us the torturous trouble, guilt, shame, and chastisement of our peace. Then He brings us to Jesus to be justified by the faith that comes out of the suffering and surrender to both the authority of God to condemn sin and the mercy of His Son to win our loyalty to righteousness.

Of the Lord John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11).

The ultimate surrender was demonstrated by Paul. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (2Tim. 4:6). As he wrote in his last letter,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2Tim. 4:7,8).

Paul had fought an uphill battle his whole life. And he came to the point that he relished the sacrifice of self. But, unlike his Master on the cross, Paul had perfect peace. He had been cast down but not destroyed, persecuted, but not forsaken. Therefore, he had certainty of salvation and knew he would be received by the Lord at His appearing. Paul could say, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2Tim. 1:12). Perfect identification with his Lord gave Paul perfect hope and perfect steadfastness that kept disillusionment from shaming him, even when he looked abandoned by men.

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27).

Paul had the anointing that maketh not ashamed. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1Jn. 2:28). “Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:5).

Paul knew suffering and surrender like his Master, and was prepared to meet Him at His return. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14).

Have we suffered and surrendered with Jesus in our own suffering and surrender? Do we have perfect certainty of salvation in His resurrection from the dead?

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