This Shall Not Be!
Edited from an article by David Tryon
A special time had come in the life and ministry of Jesus.
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples
how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things
of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed,
and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and
began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: THIS
SHALL NOT BE unto thee.” Matt 16:21-22
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross
and follow Me. For whosoever WILL SAVE HIS LIFE shall loose
it and whosoever WILL LOSE HIS LIFE for my sake shall find
it.” Matt 16:24-25
When Jesus said this, He was stating an inescapable law of
Christian life and progress. No single one of us can escape
it. We have great plans for our Christian lives, as Peter
had for His Master. And when the shadow of the cross comes
anywhere near us, instinctively we react as Peter did, and
say, “Be it far from me, Lord: this shall not be unto
me.” We cling to our own ideas as to how things should
be, thereby “saving our lives.”
Yet, isn’t it true that again and again we seem to
come to the very threshold of a fuller Christian life. We
see it so clearly, yet somehow we do not get there, something
comes between. The vision tantalizes us, but we do not reach
it. We feel we are nearly there; just a little further effort,
just a little more prayer, just another stirring sermon, and
we shall be there! We are sure we see the way, yet again and
again we are defeated and baffled in our attempt.
Why is it that we are continually frustrated? What is this
hard, apparently impassable barrier which seems to block our
way to the life for which we long? It is this law that “whosoever
shall save his life shall loose it.” In our effort to
be “keen” Christians, we weary ourselves and bring
ourselves to despair against this law. And when we have recovered
a bit, we try again, quite sure that by saving our lives we
shall find life.
What does it mean to “save our lives”? It means
to say, “No, this shall not be unto me” when the
shadow of the cross draws near. It is how we react to the
coming of the cross that decides whether we shall lose our
lives or find them.
What are the outward indications of a life that is saving
itself? These signs are many. One is a spirit of grumbling
and self-pity. Another, a continual attempt to justify oneself,
resenting criticism; or, holding on to past resentments, never
forgetting an unkind word or act. Another is refusing responsibility
that ought to be accepted, because of a false “humility”
which will not risk hurt to our pride, should we fail. Another
is drawing attention to our own good deeds, very casually,
of course, but doing it none the less. Another, being swayed
by our moods and feelings. Another is using our prayer time
to try to persuade the Lord to accept our point of view.
As long as these and similar things characterize our lives,
however keen and zealous our Christian service may be, we
can be sure that we are trying to “save our lives”
and that the law of which Jesus spoke will operate inexorably
to keep us out of Life. “For whosoever shall save his
life shall loose it.”
What is the alternative? The alternative is to let Him bring
about for us a complete reversal of this way of living, teaching
us gently the meaning of the cross, of loosing our lives rather
than saving them. He will teach us how we may die to self-pity,
to self justification, to all resentments, past and present.
We shall learn to die to our moods and feelings, our plans
and programs. And we will learn how to welcome every unpleasant
thing, which previously we had resented. Now, we will gladly
accept these things as His way of bringing the Cross to bear
upon our lives.
This is the way to the Life that we so desire to possess.
We must discover in experience that “only by losing
our lives shall we find Life.” To know it merely with
our minds will do us little good. Only Jesus by His Spirit
can teach us the truth about all this.
To find the true way into Life will mean the complete reversal
of the way we were going about it before. This is a thing
which “flesh and blood” cannot accomplish. Only
the Holy Spirit can show us, and then lead us in this path.
Now, we will find that our bruised, battered and broken spiritual
lives are being gently lifted through the open door of His
Cross into the borders of His “Resurrection Life.”
He is calling us to share this life with Him.