Matthew 16:21-26 (NIV)
Jesus Predicts His Death
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
In the New Testament there are 4 Greek words for love, each with it own specific meaning for love.
- Eros - the love of intimacy, or desire
- Philos - the love of friendship, or brotherly love
- Storge - a natural love, affection, or family love
- Agape - a love that acts no matter the cost, & requires nothing back in return. This is the "love" God has for His children. It was manifested by Christ on the cross. It is the "love" that was mentioned in John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 13, as well as being seen in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues (or languages) of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, (Some early manuscripts body that I may boast) but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.(footnotes added in parentheses, emphasis added in red, by Amy)
"faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." In this passage Paul is explaining that "love (agape) is the greatest" because it surpasses gifts & will outlast them all. These sought after gifts, (ie: prophesy, faith, tongues, knowledge, etc.) will one day be unnecessary. But, agape love, will remain forever as the central power behind all that God and His redeemed people are and do.
Now, let's link what we've learned about agape love to what we know about suffering. Jesus clearly looked at suffering in a different way than the world does. A good explanation for this is that of His agape love for God. He "loved" God & was willing to suffer at any cost, to glorify His father.
Luke 22:42 (NIV)
42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
John 9:1-3 (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
Matthew 5:45 (NIV)
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Paul too, displayed a different outlook on suffering than the world does, when he wrote the following:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Human weakness provides the ideal opportunity for the display of devine power.
Now, lets discuss some questions together. Some of these might be difficult to answer, they are for me, if answering anonomously makes you more comfortable, by all means do so.
- Would you be willing to endure suffering if it would bring glory to God and do His work?
- What is the cross you are presently carrying? How joyful are you about it?
- What was the last completely selfless (agape) thing you did?
- Is there any saying of Jesus that the world is more in complete disagreement and ridicule than this one? Watch the TV commercials this week and see how many are contrary to the life Jesus talks about.
- Knowing this, that 68% of all the hospitals in the world are built in Jesus' name, 80% of all colleges are built in His name, the Roman Catholic Church takes care of more orphans & feeds more hungry than any other government or religion combined, do you think Jesus made a difference in the world?