How much of a difference can one person make? Probably more than you think. Jesus was just one person, but his selflessness changed humanity.
Everything about Jesus is pretty amazing. His birth was miraculous, his relational skills were remarkable, and although he stood for righteousness, law breakers and rebels were very drawn to him. That would be like die-hard vegans not being able to resist hanging out with the owner of the world’s largest steak house – pretty phenomenal if you ask me!
Jesus’ life was amazing at every point. He amazed people at birth, as a pre-teen, and he amazed even the hardest of hearts when he died.
By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”
Luke 23:44-47 (NLT)
Roman officers were not soft or sensitive folks; they were ruthless and they got the job done. There is a reason why they were the most powerful people of that time. They were fierce, and they conquered, destroyed and tortured enemies of Rome. But here we see a Roman officer who was moved to worship God because of what he saw in Jesus.
What convinced the Roman officer?
- It could have been the way Jesus held up under the anguish of the cross.
- It could have been the way Jesus lovingly made allowance for his mother’s care while on the cross.
- It could have been how Jesus prayed specifically for his forgiveness. I am positive the Roman officer had never heard such a prayer from a cross.
All we know is that the officer worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent…”
Isaiah 53:1-5 (NLT) is a great illustration of Jesus’ innocence:
Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
This passage teaches us that what Jesus did for us was not only real, but very personal. When he died on the cross he carried each of our sins and weaknesses.
So what did he specifically do for us? How did we affect Jesus?
- He carried our weaknesses
- He was weighed down by our sorrows
- He was pierced by our rebellion
- He was crushed by our sins
Why did Jesus do all this? Jesus embraced his destiny. He was chosen to die for our sins. This destiny was one that he willingly chose, even though he knew just how painful and ruthless the whole process would be.
However, despite the incredible love and sacrifice Jesus showed on the cross, the Bible teaches us that at one point or another, we’ve all turned our backs on Jesus and didn’t care about what he did for us.
What happens when we don’t acknowledge Jesus’ destiny for us? We become bitter.
Bitter at Destiny
Bitterness is poisonous and destructive to our relationships. And often, when we are infected with bitterness, we don’t see it! Bitterness is not limited to age – you can be bitter when you’re old or bitter when you’re young. What are some things we get bitter about? Here are some examples, see if any strike a chord. Have you gotten bitter about:
- your lot in life
- your first dating relationship ending in heartbreak
- feeling abandoned by your parents
- never knowing one of your parents
- your parents divorce
- your own divorce
- unfaithfulness in your marriage
- health challenges (physical or emotional)
We can allow the hardships of life to make us bitter at destiny, or we can choose to embrace God’s destiny:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
I love this quote because I think God wants us to dance with destiny. Bitter people don’t dance; they sulk and criticize and complain. Before you can dance with destiny, you must first deal with your bitterness.
Bitterness is the enemy of change. Bitterness keeps you stuck in the past, unable to see what God wants to do in your future.
How did Jesus defeat the enemy of change?
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
Hebrews 5:7-8 (NIV)
Jesus did two things to prepare him for his destiny:
- He prayed
- He learned from his pain
We have learn to pray like Jesus did. Because he had an incredible prayer life, he had the power to embrace what I call the 3 R’s:
- Resilience (gave him the power to defeat sin for us)
- Risk-Taking (gave him the courage to love us)
- Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV)
- Resurrection (gave him the opportunity to rewrite our destiny)
- John 3:16 (NIV)
- Ephesians 1:18-21 (NIV)
Rewriting your Destiny
God doesn’t want you to just attend a church service. He wants you to take the time to consider your life and start rewriting your destiny. If Jesus really did die for you, isn’t it worth it to learn about him and respond to this incredible love?
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:36-38 (NLT)
Rewriting our destiny starts with acknowledging that Jesus died for our sins, but that he also was raised from the dead. Then we can take responsibility for our sins, change, and get baptized.
Maybe you already got baptized and you’ve been a Christian for awhile. You can still rewrite your destiny. You don’t need to get stuck in certain patterns or have the same relationship with God you had ten or twenty years ago.
What do you need to do to rewrite your destiny?
Today, we have 2 choices: become selfless and make an impact like Jesus did, or live for ourselves and what we see right now. Which will you choose?
18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
Phil 3:18-19 (NIV)
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Phil 3:10-11 (NIV)