Friday, February 10, 2012

By Faith... Moses, Part 29 of 54

Idea: We’re identified with Jesus, and He is identified with us.

Purpose: To help listeners understand how Christ identifies with us and how that lifts our suffering for Him to a new level.

Can you think of Christians who have suffered because of their faith in Christ?

How do they cope?

What could you tell them that might encourage them?

I. In Romans 15:3, Paul writes, “For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ ” (NIV)

Where do you think Paul may have learned the experience of that quote?

Think about what Paul was before he became a follower of Jesus Christ.

He traveled to Damascus with letters from the high priest who had authority over Jews in Judea and beyond. Damascus was the nearest important city outside of Palestine. It was about 160 miles from Jerusalem, which would have been a 5-day journey.

Christians would have been Jews who followed Jesus. Paul would drag those Jews back to Jerusalem where they would be tried before the Sanhedrin, which was a Jewish court.

II. What happened to Paul on the highway to Damascus?

Imagine how the conversation might have gone between Jesus and Saul: Jesus asks, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Paul responds, “Persecute you? I haven’t persecuted you. I persecuted infidels, those people who abandoned the Jewish faith.”

Jesus responds, “Saul, you took part in the stoning of Stephen, one of my servants, and you threw stones at Me.” Paul says, “You? We never threw stones at you. Only Stephen. I hated what he had to say.” Jesus says, “Every stone you threw at Stephen hit Me. You have persecuted Me.” Paul answers, “Not you. Only Jews who abandoned the faith.” “Saul, Saul, you have persecuted Me.”

That conversation never really happened, but it could have happened because David said that the “insults that were hurled at me fell on You.” Paul quotes that to the Romans: It may have come out of that experience on the Damascus Road.

Conclusion:

We could say to those who suffer, “What happens to you is felt by the Christ you serve.”