The Message of Jesus
As believers one of the greatest privileges we have is knowing and sharing the message of Jesus. What is the message of Jesus? In a moment we will examine it word by word from Mark 1. But before that, think of the wonderful change that the message of Jesus has brought.
What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart. I have light in my soul for which long I had sought, since Jesus came into my heart!
Have you ever thought about what a wonderful change the sweet message of Jesus has brought? Think with me about two dramatically different lives, one accepting and touched by the message of Jesus, the other rejecting the message of Jesus.
Two lives, one message, two responses
Ancient sources give a remarkably clear picture of the destruction of Ninevah, the city Jonah preached to. The year was 612 B.C. the doom of the city arrived. Combined armies of Babylonians and Scythians marched up the left bank of the Tigris River and surrounded the city. It happened in early spring at the time of the annual rainfalls. Since the rains were especially hard that year, the Tigris and other rivers flooded and apparently washed away a portion of the walls, leaving a breach for the armies to enter the city.
The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (c. 20 B.C.) says that the river not only broke down the walls of the city, it also inundated part of it. At this point, the king, Sardanapalus, remembering an oracle to the effect that Nineveh would only fall when the river itself declared war against it, believed that the oracle was fulfilled and abandoned any hope of saving himself. He built a gigantic funeral pyre in the royal precincts, heaped up large quantities of gold and costly clothes, shut his concubines and eunuchs in a chamber he had made in the midst of the pyre, and then burned himself, his family, his concubines and eunuchs, and the palace.
Whatever had not been burned in this conflagration was destroyed by the entering armies. There was a terrible slaughter. Diodorus said, "So great was the multitude of the slain that the flowing stream, mingled with their blood, changed its color for a considerable distance." What a wasted life without the Goodness of God's Message.
Then remember with me the passing of CT Studd. A former lean and fit athlete, now gaunt and emaciated. All his formerly gleaning white teeth now brown or long gone. Stooped, halting with each step he is surrounded by thousands of glistening black bodies. They have come to hear their beloved Bwana for the last time. He speaks after over two hours of singing. There in front of him sit 5,000 former headhunters. Now their oiled bodies, clothed in banana leaves sit in an immense sea of white toothed smiles. With faces turned heavenward they sing of the sweet by and by and that beautiful shore they will someday see.
Passed now are the years of darkness and savagery. The former enemies sit shoulder to shoulder. No weapons of war are left, only the bond of love. This would be the last sight of his dear saintly convert Studd would see. After his message uttered between gasps for air, with every era strainerd to catch each word, he is carried back to his hut. Exhausted, he rests, though only his Savior knew it was his last. In the night the Faithful Shepherd who had led him to China, then India and finally to the very heart of Africa - took CT home. In the morning only the shriveled earthly tent was left. But around that hut and to the furthest reaches of the jungles and on mission stations around the world, the footprints of this giant can be found today.
CT Studd responded to the message of Jesus, he gave every thing to Christ. And in return he lost nothing. Sardanapalus kept everything to the end, rejected the message God had sent his city, and dies as it was destroyed. Jim Elliot summed it up the best, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Today let's find what we can give up that will last forever!
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