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Friday, December 27, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit# 57

The Victory of the Cross of Christ (continued)

Now, in order to grasp the full significance of that which took place in Acts twelve, we need to go back a few years and consider that which is recorded in Mark 10:28. In Mark 10:33 and 34, the Lord Jesus had just finished telling the twelve of His Cross, He had told them that He would be killed, and that three days later He would rise again. About this time, James and John came up to Him and said to Him: "Grant that we may sit in Your Glory, one on Your right, and the one on Your left." And Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking or. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" And they said to Him, "We are able." These "sons of thunder" were ambitious, they were interested in becoming the greatest in the kingdom; but James and John were not much different than Peter, who not long before this had said, "Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee." Which is one way of saying: "What do I get out of this?"

The Lord knew that the twelve had discussed and argued among themselves  who was the greatest among them. Jesus knew how ambitious their natural man was, but He also knew that their heart was wholly dedicated to Him (except for Judas). He knew that after the cross had done its work in their lives that they would be "able." they would, in measure, have their Gethsemane; so He said to James and John: "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I AM baptized." And in saying it to them, He said it to all who will take up their cross and follow Him.

You know, beloved, when Peter said, "Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee," he was referring to earthly things, and earthly riches, and earthly ties (Mark 10:29). But when the Lord Jesus Christ answered Peter, He was not speaking of the earthly realm. He was speaking of the hundredfoldness, limitless, spiritual blessings of the Kingdom of God. When Christ spoke of houses, brothers, sisters, and mothers and lands, etc., He was not speaking of the earthly realm. He was speaking of the spiritual blessings and the unsearchable riches which are In Him. Christ also said that this hundredfoldness of His Kingdom was to be received by us now, in the present age, "along with persecutions." He also said that we would receive this hundrefoldness, the unsearchable riches that are in Him, throughout eternity.

Christ was speaking of His Kingdom, which is not of this world. He was speaking of the Kingdom of God in which the greatest is the One Who is the servant of all (verse 44), and only Christ is the Greatest; and in this Kingdom those who reign with Him must suffer with Him. he Tribulation, the Kingdom, and the Patient Endurance which are in Jesus Christ are irrevocably linked together.

So the Lord Jesus Christ said to James and John, "The cup that I drink ye shall drink:; and "The cup He drank" always leads us to the agony of Gethsemane and the suffering of the Cross. Thus, in the Word of God, it is by Divine Design that the last two times Peter, James and John are recorded as being together is at Gethsemane, and then at Jerusalem, 12 or 15 years later, when the Holy Spirit solemnly tells us: "Now, at that strategic, significant period [in the growth of the Church and the success of the gospel message], Herod the king laid his hands  upon certain of those who belonged to the Church for the purpose of maltreating them. And he put James, the brother of John, out of the way, beheading him with a sword ... and he put him (Peter) in prison" (Acts 12:1, 2).

Herod put forth his hands to "vex", to maltreat, to afflict with evil, "certain of the Church." There is something very sinister and cunning, very malicious and venomous, behind these words. This is the first time one of the Herods have been mentioned since the Cross of Christ, and this Herod, Herod Agrippa I, comes on the scene with murder in his heart. This Herod is from a long line of Herods who had murder in their hearts against the Lord and His chosen ones. It was Herod the Great who murdered the innocent children when Christ was born in order to stop Christ from becoming King of Israel. It was Herod Antipas who, under the influence of Herodias, ordered the beheading of John the Baptist; and Herod Antipas also took part in the condemning of Christ to the Cross. And now Herod Agrippa I, moves to maltreat the Church, and he beheads James, the brother of John.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58)

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