“For my sake!” Not because it’s fashionable or prudent or rewarding or exhilarating.
“For my sake!” Not because it’s the right thing to do or it’s what we’ve always done or it’s what others expect of us.
“For my sake!” Not for truth’s sake or because rational argument points that way or because history proves it or because everyone will be grateful.
When Jesus said do this or that “for my sake” he made everything personal and he risked everything on himself, on how he struck these disciples, on what he could mean to them, on what he would come to mean to them. They would leave old views, cherished tradition, habits and motivations, lifelong commitments, even early views of Him—all these they would leave behind but in the process they would cling closer to Him. What they would do, what they would urge one another to do, what they would urge everyone they came across to do it would all be “for His sake.”
Eternal truths and everlasting realities became a person in the person of Jesus Christ. The invisible person of God became visible and all that earlier truths and events had revealed were not revealed in a person. All that was lasting remained and all that was temporary passed away when they were swallowed up in this person who said, “Do it for me! Do it for my sake! Do it in my name!”
Despite his awful sinfulness David had that quality in him that enabled him to draw gallant souls around him—people who’d fight an army just to get him a drink of water from the Bethlehem well where he would have spent time as a boy (2 Samuel 23:14-17). Jesus, despite his awesome sinlessness had that quality about him too and he was certain that if he were lifted up on the cross (and in preaching/teaching) that he would continue to draw men and women to himself (John 12:32). But that’s the point to be remembered—he would draw men to himself!
I would insist that doctrine matters! I gladly grant that Jesus is more than a specific historical individual and that he means all manner of things; but the “all manner of things” that he means mean nothing—absolutely nothing—if separated from him as a person! Lose that personal element and the Christian faith withers and becomes another religious philosophy with opinions flying, bits of truth here and there, guesses filling the air and the moral/spiritual dynamism of Jesus vanishes and he’s another dead Buddha.
“The ancients taught you,” Jesus said, “but listen to me.”
“Don’t call yourselves ‘teachers’; there’s only one teacher—me—and you are all brethren.”
“Come unto me!”
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life! Nobody comes to the Father but by me!”
“If you’re persecuted for my sake you’re blessed!”
Trade all that in for “the Christian faith” as a system of thought, theologically correct views and belief and something is lost without which there is no life.
And then he says this astonishing thing. “Whoever gives you a cup of cold water because you are mine/he is mine—listen—that person will not lose their reward.” (Mark 9:41) Something amazing happens to a simple kind act when it is inspired by the thought of Jesus and done as an expression of heartfelt allegiance to him. When the disciples for various reasons criticized a woman for pouring an entire bottle of costly ointment over Jesus he defended her and buried their carping simply by saying, “She did it for me!”
And when we Supper together on the Lord’s Day he says to us: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Keep it personal!
“©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.”