Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Friday, June 3, 2016
Are you concerned about the salvation of others? Do you have a passion, or even an interest, in telling others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? To what lengths would you be willing to go to help others come to Christ? Would you be willing to break your back working on behalf of Jesus? Today we will see how the Apostle Paul was one person who was broken and burdened to share the Good News, and he was willing to experience a “broke back” on behalf of his LORD.
In the Book of Romans, Paul gives us a treasure of deep theology. It is the single greatest deposit of Christian theology in the entire Bible – a “Mother Lode” of theology. But occasionally, Paul takes a break from relating the theology and gives us a glimpse of the passion in his heart. He had a heart for evangelism and a passion to see his fellow Jews come to know our Savior, and he gives us a personal word of testimony regarding his willingness to break his back (figuratively) and have his back broke (literally) for others.
“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” (Romans 9:1-3). “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1).
Do you hear the brokenness and burden he has for his fellow countrymen? Paul is saying, “I am not exaggerating or overstating the issue when I tell you that I have an enormous burden and constant grief in my heart knowing that my people, the Jews, have rejected Jesus as Savior and Messiah.” He knows they are missing the incredible life Jesus can offer them. He even goes on to say, “If it were possible, I would be willing to give up my own salvation and relationship with Christ, I would be willing to go to Hell myself, if that would somehow help my own race come to salvation in Jesus.”
Paul’s testimony is astounding when you consider these are the very people who regarded him as their enemy. They had been trying ruthlessly to stop his ministry – inciting riots in towns where Paul preached, arresting him repeatedly and putting him in prison, sending false teachers to undo his work, stoning him and leaving him for dead. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-26, Paul stated, “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one”, adding that he was in constant danger from his countrymen.
John Piper responds to that statement by Paul, saying, “Lest we pass over this too quickly, without having the breath knocked out of us, consider what is meant to receive ‘forty lashes less one.’ It meant the victim was stripped and tied to some kind of stake so he would not run or fall. Then a person trained in flogging would take a whip, maybe with or without shard in the leather, and lash Paul’s back thirty-nine times. Halfway through, or earlier perhaps, the skin would probably begin to break and tear. By the end there would be parts of Paul’s back that were like jelly. The lacerations were not clean, as with a razor blade. The skin was torn and shredded, so that the healing was slow and perhaps complicated by infection. They knew nothing of sterilization in those days, and had no antiseptics. It would take months perhaps before his garments could hang on his back without pain.
Now with that in view, consider how this happened a second time on the same back, opening all the scars. It healed more slowly the second time. Then consider that some months later it happened a third time. Imagine what his back must have looked like. Then it happened again. And finally it happened a fifth time. And this is just one of Paul’s sufferings. (Let The Nations Rejoice, John Piper, p.85).
Talk about a broke back. Yet despite all this, there is no hint of anger or bitterness towards these people. In fact, Paul displays the opposite view – love. Paul has such a compassion and burden for these people that he would gladly forfeit his own salvation in exchange for the salvation of his self-declared enemies. Paul gives us a powerful demonstration of what it means to “love your enemies”. (Matthew 5:44).
Paul shows us it is normal to have a “broke back” and an unbridled burden for the salvation of others. But as great as Paul’s burden was, it was not equal to the burden Jesus Christ has for you and me. Jesus was willing to have His “back broke” (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 27:26) for each of us so that we might also have eternal life. Are you willing to have a broke back for Him?
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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