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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?

The following is attributed to an unknown bullfighter: "To fight a bull when you are not scared is nothing. And to not fight a bull when you are scared is nothing. But to fight a bull when you are scared – that is something." I saw several bullfights in Mexico on a Sunday afternoon a few years ago. I discovered that Aesop was right when he said, "It is easy to be brave from a distance." Many people are very brave when it comes to preaching or teaching or leading singing or visiting the nursing home or hospital or inviting someone to church. The reason why – they stay a safe distance away from doing these things! That's one reason Jesus amazes me. He bravely faced the cross -- and the closer He came to it the more bravely He acted. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus faced the most intense night of pressure in His life. Judas has gone off to betray Him into the hands of wicked little men who will violently abuse and humiliate Him. The cross is coming, only hours away. The thought of becoming a sin offering caused Him who never knew a sin to recoil in spiritual horror. Praying in anguish and agony, His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). Was Jesus afraid to physically suffer? Probably. It's hard to believe He was looking forward to being beaten within an inch of death and then having spikes hammered through His hands and feet to fix Him to a piece of timber where He would hang for several hours in excruciating physical pain, dying a slow-motion death. But don't tell me the fear of physical suffering alone explains what we see in Gethsemane. Jesus is about to be made an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). That is the chief source of the travail of His soul (Isaiah 53:11). Though never separated from God for even a moment since eternity, Jesus was about to be cut off from His Father as He took on the sins of the world. With all of that as a backdrop, Matthew 26:39 says, He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, V My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. " There it is – "He went a little farther." He had already come farther than we can ever understand (John 1:1, 14, 18; 3:13, 31; 6:33). But to do the will of God He had to go a little farther. Holding nothing back, Jesus went a little farther in love and sacrifice and service — all the way to the cross where He gave His life for you and me.

The call of Jesus comes to every person in Luke 9:23 — take up the cross of self-denial and follow Him. He who went a little farther for you wants to know, how far will you go for Him?

Dan Gulley,
Smithville church of Christ