Summary: The Cross is the ultimate in Courage.

Matthew 20:17-19

“The Test of His Courage”

By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer,

Pastor of Parkview united Methodist Church, Newport News, VA

There are, at least, two kinds of courage.

There is the courage that is a kind of instinctive reaction…

…it’s like a reflex action…

…it’s the kind of courage of those who are confronted—out of the blue—with some crisis to which they instinctively react, without much--if any--time to think.

It’s kind of like suddenly jumping in front of a train in order to push another person out of the way.

It’s an act of great courage….of great bravery in the heat of the moment, and many folks have displayed this kind of courage.

Another kind of courage is the courage of those who see the train approaching far, far ahead of time… …who have plenty of time to turn back, who could, if they chose to do so evade the situation altogether…and who still go on despite knowing what they will face…

…having lots of time to think about it…

…to let it sink in.

Many would say, and I would have to agree with them, that it is far more courageous to deliberately face the future…knowing that you could turn back…but deciding that you will not—no matter what personal sacrifice you yourself will have to face.

And that is the kind of courage that Jesus Christ showed as the picture became ever more clear what our redemption would cost Him!

“Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus tells us in John Chapter 15, “that he lay down his life for his friends.”

And so, with this ultimate love in mind, the Man from Galilee faced Jerusalem…and headed toward Jerusalem knowing that this meant suffering to endth degree in heart, mind, body and soul for the salvation of those who would believe!

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.

They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.”

Now, Jesus could have gone back to Galilee instead of to Jerusalem.

He could have chosen safety, with many long years of teaching…He may even have been able to get tenure at a prestigious university.

And the safe choice certainly would have been justified.

Who could blame Him?

Isn’t this the kind of choice that most of us make each and every day?

Do not most of us choose to take the easy path over the difficult path?

Don’t we seek safety and security over danger and sacrifice?

Here in Matthew Chapter 20 Jesus predicts His death, but this is not the first time He has done this.

Remember back in chapter 16 that when Jesus told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem where He would suffer terribly and be killed and then raised to life on the third day “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

Then Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! …you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” ?

Like Peter, many of us enjoy declaring that Jesus is the Christ on Sunday mornings, but we don’t really like the truth of what that means!

Because we don’t live into what that means.

If Jesus had in mind the things of men or of humanity…He would not have had the courage, nor the selfless motivation to face every kind of physical and emotional and mental suffering that this world could inflict upon another.

And this is exactly what Jesus deliberately chose to face, simply for the salvation of you and of me and of all who will believe.

He would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and scribes, and thus face the suffering of a broken heart…

…a broken heart smashed to bits by the disloyalty of friends.

He would be condemned to death and face the suffering of the most horrible kind of injustice.

With our current and increasing knowledge of DNA we often hear of folks who have been sentenced to death or to life in prison—falsely.

They did not commit the crime.

They may have served 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more and we are in awe of what they had to endure.

Some have faced the death penalty and then have been spared at the last moment because new scientific evidence has proven that they did not commit the crime.

Still, they paid a price.

Well, Jesus was completely innocent of all sin, and yet, He deliberately paid the ultimate price for the sins of us all!!!

It is very hard to bear the suffering of injustice, but this is one of the many things Jesus courageously faced as He deliberately went up to Jerusalem to die.

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