What is Sacrifice?
Today, I want you to think about
sacrifice and what it means. Have you ever given up something for someone
else? Maybe for your brother or sister, or a friend? What have you given up
lately to help someone else?
Now think about that for a minute. Did it put great hardship on you? Did
you feel pain? In fact, did it put your life in danger? You know, I hear a
lot of people complain about little things they have to give up. Some things
we think are important, are nowhere within reach for others. Examples? Your
Game-boy breaks, you get put on restriction from TV, the internet is down,
you have to eat mashed potatoes instead of French fries. Oh the horrors!
Sound silly? Think of all the little things like that in your life that you
have to compromise for, and upset you. Now I want you to think about the
young boy or girl living in a shelter with no family and only the clothes on
their back. What about the kids in 3rd world countries that are
fighting to stay alive because they don't have food. Actually, that happens
right here under our noses! And we complain about the comforts we have and
going without. We are too comfortable if you ask me.
Switching gears, we know Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, none
but I want you to look at some often overlooked examples. The
Disciples. Think about this, Jesus told them to follow Him. That meant, drop
everything. Now, they were fishermen, not a rich mans job, but it provided
money and food for them and their families. Jesus told them to lay it all
aside, this meant even their families. Peter, his brother Andrew, John and
his brother James, all did just that. Gave it all up to follow Jesus. Pretty
big sacrifice don't you agree? Well, it doesn't end there.
In an ultimate show of sacrifice, and proof Jesus died on the cross and
was raised from the dead, let's look at how the Disciples died.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being
whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied his body to the cross with
cords to prolong his agony. When he was led toward the cross, Andrew said:
"I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been
consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to
those torturing him for two days until he died.
Bartholomew- beaten then crucified
James (son of Alphaeus)- stoned to death
He was thrown over a hundred feet down from the church in Jerusalem when he
refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived
the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. This was the
same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation.
James (son of Zebebedee)- beheaded
The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his
faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of
execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge
and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian
John- exiled for his faith, died of old age
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil
during a wave of persecution in Rome. He was miraculously delivered from
death. He was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos
where he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was later freed and returned to
serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey.
Judas (not Iscariot)- stoned to death
Matthew- speared to death
Peter- crucified upside down
Thomas- speared to death
Matthias- stoned to death
Tortured and then beheaded by the evil emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67
This sends two messages. The first is, Jesus undeniably was who He said
He was or 12 men would not have died horrible deaths they could have avoided
by just saying it was all untrue. The second thing it shows us is, as
humans, what TRUE sacrifice really is. They gave up everything, including
their lives to follow Jesus Christ. They gave up rewards that would last
only a short while here on earth, and saw the bigger picture and planned on
what would happen in eternity in Heaven. You know Jesus is worth it. Are
your sacrifices really that great and troublesome? And more important, are
you making sacrifices you need to that bring God glory? Don't get hung up on
what's in this world, 70-80 years on earth is a short time compared to
forever. Don't build your life on a comfortable retirement here, but rather,
on a glorious eternity in Heaven.
In His Grace,
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