One of my favourite television programs is the Band of Brothers. My favourite episode in that series concerns a Lieutenant Spiers. In that episode, Easy Company had emerged from a torrid time in a forest in Bastogne under freezing conditions. They were asked to take over the little town of Foy from the Germans. Easy Company was under the charge of an ineffectual commander and couldn’t break through the German defence until Spiers stepped up and took over. Spiers stepped up, took command and lead from the front. He blazed through and ran from one vantage point to another, methodically and courageously picking out snipers and artilleries. His brave feats lead Easy Company to complete victory and they overcame the enemy.
Later as the men took a well earned rest, someone asked Spiers how he did it. What was his reply? He said:
The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it.
To function as a soldier, one has to accept that he is already dead. The sooner that acceptance occurs, the better the soldier will be able to function.
Dying to self is essential to effective function. He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. These were the words of Jim Elliot the missionary was killed in Ecuador.
The Bible has always taught giving up of self. The elevation of self is the greatest lie the devil perpetuated to continue to suppress man and deny him the fullness of life that self sacrifice was meant to bring. Leave the 99 sheep behind to seek that one lost sheep and forgetting the nine coins in order to find the one which is lost. Giving up what we have – which we can’t keep – to find the greater gift given by God – which we can’t lose. The devil seeks to stoke our egos, our self.
Genesis 3:4 has the serpent saying to Eve 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Elevating man to the status of God seems on the surface, to be fulfilling man’s “purpose” but in fact is the death knell that sees man separated from God. To truly live, the self is to first die.
To move forward, one is asked to first lay down himself to the extent of death. Jesus has shown us what this means. In John 12:23
23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
So this morning as we remember His death for our sake let us seek to forget ourselves and focus on Him. More than 500 years ago, Nicolaus Copernicus discovered that the earth is not at the centre of the universe. Let us embrace the Copernican revolution and accept that we are not at the centre of the universe – God is. It is not about us. It is all about God and His plans. Let us see things from the perspective of God’s Kingdom and His purpose for His Kingdom. For only then can we be one as His family, as He commanded us to be.
Let us give thanks together
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your gift of redemption in and through Jesus, your only begotten Son. We thank you for His obedience. We ask that you will teach us to obey just as He obeyed. We ask that just as submitted to Your will we too will know how to look beyond ourselves and yield to Your will and Your purpose for Your church. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
In Matthew 26, it says in verse 26:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Let us eat the bread together to remember Jesus’ obedience on the cross.
Verse 27 – Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Let us now drink from the cup and accept the shedding of Jesus blood on the cross for our sin. May God bless us all.