The Way of Life is Surrender

TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 18-21

“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war.” – Jeremiah 21:8-9

Jeremiah prophesies that there are two ways we can go – the way of life or the way of death. These two ways are polar opposites. They have nothing to do with each other.

The way of death is to stay in the city and die by the sword, by famine, or by pestilence.

The way of life is to go out of the city, surrender to the enemy who is persecuting you, and gain your life as a prize of war.

These are the words of Jesus!

How so?

In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” In this verse, Jesus presents to the two ways. One is the way of Satan, which is to kill and destroy and is therefore the way of death. The other is the way of Jesus, which is to give life and is therefore the way of life.

In John 10:17-18, Jesus elaborated on what the way of life looks like, saying, “For this reason the Father loves me, because i lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus presented us with the choice of the way of life or the way of death. He said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Looking back to Jeremiah, to save your life was to stay in the city, in Jerusalem, to fight for your earthly kingdom, your rights, your possessions, etc. But, to stay in the city and fight, which is what the Jews wanted to Jesus to do, is to die at the hand of the enemy by the sword, famine, and pestilence. If you try to save your life by fighting, by war, by the way of the world, then you lose your life. You will die spiritually.

But, if you lose your, then you will find it. Based on what Jesus said in John 10:17-18, to lose life is to voluntarily lay it down. Losing your life means you give up your earthly kingdom, your rights, your possessions, etc. You voluntarily lay it all down. But, in this case, you spiritually come to life.

In Jeremiah, losing your life is going out of the city and surrendering to the enemy. Therefore, notice what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Where was Jesus crucified?

Outside the city. Jesus went outside the city and laid down his life. He surrendered to the enemy. But, this was the victory of Jesus because he had both the authority to lay down his life and pick it up again.

And, Jesus asked us to follow him. He asked us to follow him outside the city and take up our own cross. Jesus asked us to voluntarily surrender to the enemy and lay down our lives.

How else can we love our enemies but by surrendering our lives to them?

Why don’t we do this?

Because we fear that by surrendering our lives – our pride, our will, our kingdom, our rights, our possessions – we will die. We fear we will end up with nothing.

Paul explained clearly that there is no need for this fear that if we voluntarily surrender to the enemy that we will die. In fact, Paul said it was just the opposite.

“For if we have been united with him in a death life his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus did not crucify himself. He surrendered, willingly, to his enemies, and was crucified by them. But, he was resurrected.

We are to do the same. We are to follow Jesus and be united with him in his death. We are to lay down our lives, to surrender to the enemy. We don’t crucify ourselves, but we are crucified with Jesus. And, if we die a death like Jesus’, then we will certainly be raised in a resurrection like his too.

In Jeremiah, it says that those who outside the city and surrender will gain their life as a prize of war. In the Hebrew, “a prize of war” is just one word. It means booty, spoil, goods that have been plundered.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:29, “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.”

Jesus, has fought the strong man, the enemy, the Sata. Jesus won that war on the cross. By winning the war, Jesus freed us from our bondage to Satan. And, Jesus plundered the goods, our very lives, that were in Satan’s house, Satan’s kingdom.

So, there is the way of death, the way of killing, which is the way of Satan. This is the way of fighting for what is ours. This way leads to death.

And, there is the way of life, the way of dying, the way of surrendering, which is the way of Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life. This is way of voluntarily surrendering everything we have to be united in the death of Jesus so that we can live a resurrected life like he lives.

This is when the last enemy, death, has been truly been defeated.

Follow Me: Caleb and Joshua as a Picture of Jesus

TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 14-15

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Found in Matthew 4:19, these are the first words that Jesus directly spoke to any of his disciples. Not coincidentally, Matthew records Jesus’ command to “follow me” immediately after the first words of Jesus’ ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

In the gospels, there are 22 verses were Jesus says, “Follow me.”

Whenever Jesus finds a disciple, he says, “Follow me.”

To find your life, you must lose it.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In Matthew 10:38-39, Jesus says, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

To come after Jesus, you must take up your cross.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his for my sake will find it.”

To inherit eternal life, you must sell all that you have.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

Mark 10:21 says, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

To not walk in darkness, you need the light of life.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

To believe, you must be a sheep that hears the shepherd’s voice.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 10:25-28, Jesus says, “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life, and they will never perish, and no on will snatch them out of my hand.”

In order for the Father to honor you, you must serve Jesus.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 12:26, Jesus says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

“FOLLOW ME” INTO DEATH TO HAVE LIFE

In Numbers 13, Moses sends 12 spies into the land of Canaan to see if it is as God promised. In the land, the spies found a single cluster of grapes so large that two men carried it on a pole. They also found pomegranates and figs.

After 40 days, the spies brought back with them the fruit of the land to show Israel. In Numbers 13:27, the spies said, “We came to the land which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” There was life in the land.

But, there was a problem. There were people in the land who were strong. They were giants. Ten of the spies said it “is a land that devours its inhabitants.” The ten spies knew they were going to die in that land. Those 10 spies caused the whole nation of Israel to grumble. In Numbers 14:2-3, the whole congregation says, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and out little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back t o Egypt?

However, two spies saw something different. These two spies focused on the fruit and not the giants in the land. These two spies focused on the life and not the death. In Numbers 13:30, Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Why was Caleb able to say this? The answer is in Numbers 14:24, which says, “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”

There was death in the land. But, there was also life. Caleb heard the call of God. He heard God say, “Follow me.” Therefore, Caleb went into death. He picked up his cross. He lost his life so that he and his descendants after him could possess God’s life.

Earlier in Numbers 1-2, we read about all the men of war age 20 years old and upward. All these men grumbled against God. They did not hear God calling, “Follow me.” Therefore, they could not enter the land of Canaan. But, there were two exceptions – Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

“FOLLOW ME”: 2 COMMANDS VS. 10 LAWS

10 vs. 2

How interesting!

Moses gave ten laws on tablets of stone in the old covenant. Jesus summed every law up in two commandments that are written on our hearts in the new covenant.

In Matthew 19:16-22, the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. So, the rich young ruler asked which ones. Then, Jesus basically listed the last six laws of the ten laws Moses gave. These six laws pertained to how we treat others while the first four pertained to our relationship with God.

The rich young ruler said he had done all those. He asked Jesus what he was still lacking. And, Jesus said sell everything you have and “Come, follow me.” It’s easy to see this passage focusing on material possessions and earthly wealth. But, to sell everything you have means to sell your whole life. Lose your life. Pick up your cross and deny yourself. The rich young ruler was unwilling to sell everything he had to follow the first four laws of Moses.

But, isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ initial response was six of the laws from Moses? The rich young ruler was doing those but knew he didn’t have eternal life. He knew it wasn’t the law, the ten commandments, that would lead him to eternal life.

In Luke 10:25-28, Jesus was asked by a lawyer what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked the lawyer, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Notice carefully what Jesus asks the lawyer. Jesus asks him how does he read, or understand, the law. He doesn’t ask him simply to recite the law. Jesus asks the lawyer to tell him what the law means.

The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” That is exactly the two commandments that Jesus fulfilled in his life and exactly the two commandments that Jesus told us to follow. Jesus said to the lawyer, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Entering the land of Canaan is a picture of entering into eternal life. Jesus tells us that we enter life by following his two commandments of perfect love for God and neighbor and not by following Moses’ ten laws.

“FOLLOW ME”: 2 SPIES VS. 10 SPIES

Ten spies gave a bad report that caused the whole nation to grumble against God. But, two spies saw the fruit of the land. To enjoy the fruit of this land, these two spies were willing to die. These two spies knew the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his for my sake will find it.”

What two tribes were these spies from?

Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. And, Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. Recall the sentences spoken over Judah and Ephraim when they were born.

Judah – “I will praise the Lord.”

Ephraim – “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Do you see what God is saying through the chiefs of these tribes that were willing to go into the land?

I will praise the Lord because he gave me life when I picked up my cross and heard his call, “Follow me.”

The chiefs from two tribes entered the promised land, eternal life, while the chiefs from 10 tribes died in the wilderness. All the people that entered the land, the wives and the children, followed the two chiefs that were willing to fall by the sword. All that people that entered Canaan, eternal life, followed Caleb and Joshua. Caleb and Joshua are a picture of Jesus.

“FOLLOW ME”: CALEB THE SON OF JEPHUNNEH

Caleb means faithful servant.

In Matthew 3:17, when Jesus was baptized “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'”

In Matthew 17:5, when Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration and Moses and Elijah disappeared “a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'”

Jesus, the beloved Son, is a faithful servant to the Father.

As a faithful servant, Caleb gave a good report about the land of Canaan. He was a faithful witness to what he saw.

Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus is the faithful witness. Jesus truly revealed the Father, the God who is life.

Jephunneh is an interesting name. The root word that forms the name is pane, which means face. As a verb, it means to turn to. Pane is the root word for pinnah. One of the meanings of pinnah is cornerstone. The “Je” at the beginning of the name is a syllable found in many names that means the Lord or of the Lord. So, a possible meaning of Jephunneh is the Lord of the cornerstone.

Caleb is the faithful servant, the son of the Lord of the cornerstone.

Caleb is a picture of Jesus we are to follow.

“FOLLOW ME”: JOSHUA THE SON OF NUN

The name Joshua comes from the root word sawa, which means to call for help. His name also has the prefix that means the Lord or of the Lord. So, Joshua’s name means to call to the Lord for help or the Lord saves.

Nun is both a Hebrew letter and word. It means to propagate or increase. The pictograph, the symbol, for the letter nun is a sprouting seed. One possible translation of “the son of Nun” is “the son of life.”

Joshua gives us another beautiful picture of Jesus. Here we see Jesus as the Lord that the saves, the son of life.

Notice too that Joshua was Moses’ assistant. He was always with Moses – on Mt. Sinai when he received the ten commandments, in God’s presence in the tent of meeting, etc. Moses represents the law. Joshua represents the Lord that saves. Moses dies, unable to take the people into the land of Canaan, eternal life. But, Joshua, the Lord that saves, the son of Life, leads the people into eternal life.

“FOLLOW ME”: FALL BY THE SWORD

Recall that the nation of Israel was reluctant to go into the land of Canaan because they thought that God was bringing them there to “fall by the sword.” They refused to go in because of this. But, Caleb and Joshua were willing to walk right into that sword.

What is the picture here?

Canaan is a picture of eternal life. To enter eternal life, Jesus says, “Follow me.” But, to do so we have to pick up our cross, deny ourselves, lose our lives so that we can find them.

We need to face the sword that is the land of Canaan willingly. But, that sword is Jesus. By falling under him, we can partake of all the fruit of eternal life.

In Hebrews 4, we read that Joshua actually failed to take Israel into the true rest of God. It was just a picture of what is possible for us. But, it wasn’t the true rest as there still remains a Sabbath for the people of God. Hebrews 4:11-13 says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God [Jesus] is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

Did you notice that the writer said the word of God that divides soul and spirit is a he – “no creature is hidden from his sight?”

Jesus, the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, separates all that is of the earth in us from all that is of heaven. It’s a profound truth that God creates by separating. Just look at Genesis 1 and John 1.

So, let us hear the words of Jesus, “Follow me.”

Let us willingly come to Jesus, the Word of God. Let us fall under the sword so that we can lose our life to find his in us.