Friday, October 9, 2009

The Marks of Jesus


“The marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17)

The cross is central to all of Paul’s writings in Scripture. The cross is central to all of Scripture. Paul makes it clear that those who preach Christ crucified will bear “the marks of Jesus.” Persecution is not some sadistic way of living but rather a beautiful way of dying.

I can see the confusion now: “Why is he telling us that persecution is not a sadistic way of living but a beautiful way of dying? What does that mean?” I’m glad you asked. This life is not where the Christian finds his ultimate satisfaction. There is sorrow, pain, sin and so much more making us long for an eternity with Christ. In the book of Philippians Paul speaking about life on earth says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (3:7-8). Paul basically says any status he had gained in this life was of no value compared to knowing Christ. He counted all as loss to gain Christ. He suffered the loss of everything and counted all this world had to offer as junk to bear “the marks of Jesus.”

It seems as if Paul had hatred against the world, which he did to some degree, but this is not completely the case because Paul knew the true purpose of this world. We are here to magnify our great Savior Jesus Christ and share the gospel of Christ with others. Paul had the proper perspective for this world. He understood that each breath was a gift from the One he was created to worship. The cross made fellowship possible between sinners and God. Paul knew the significance of the cross and the reality of everlasting life with his Savior which is why he suffered so much persecution for the sake of the gospel. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Paul put his faith in God’s promises which is why he bore “the marks of Jesus.”

Christian, do you look upon this world as if it is the only life to live? Are you convinced of the lie that this is your best life now? If this is true you are missing out on the gospel. We are strangers on a pilgrimage to the eternal city! C.S. Lewis sums it up, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” Are you focused on an eternity of everlasting joy and pleasure with Christ? Stop trying to satisfy your soul with the comforts of this world. Your car will perish. Your house will perish. Your talents will perish. Your body will perish. Your soul will live forever. That begs the question: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36)? This is the question we must all answer. The answer will determine whether you bear the marks of self or “the marks of Jesus.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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