Mission makes all the difference. A strong sense of mission gets you up in the morning. Mission can carry you through unimaginable obstacles. A clear mission fills you with purpose and joy.
Do you know your mission?
Jesus knew his mission and as in all things, he set the perfect example for us. I recently preached a message on Mark 15:16-32 on the humiliation of Jesus. You can listen to it here. The text is brutal. Spend some time meditating on the words of this passage. Imagine the barbarous treatment of Jesus. It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary.
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
This account details the systematic humiliation of Jesus. The word humiliation comes from the Latin root humus. It means earth or dirt. It wasn’t just about killing him. It was about tearing him down, diminishing him and making him like dirt. Everyone took their turn. The soldiers physically tore Jesus to shreds with a leather whip covered with stone and sharp pieces of bone. They then dressed him up like the king he was supposed to be and mocked him, spit on him and beat him with his kingly scepter. Jesus was forced to carry his own instrument of death until he couldn’t do it any longer. He was stripped naked in public and had spikes driven through his hands and heels. Jesus was lifted up as a public spectacle for all to see and deride. He was placed between two other victims so that he was the center of attention. Pilates sign that read “the King of the Jews” is one last insult from the govenor. Everyone took turns insulting him: the crowd, the religious leaders and even those being crucified with him. It was all one great insult to the Son of God. There are easier ways to execute a man. This is deliberate. It was a horror show intended to reduce Jesus to nothing…to dirt.
Weren’t we talking about mission? Yes and Jesus was on it.
Jesus knew this was coming. He predicted every detail. See here. Jesus knew it was coming and he was willing. He deliberately took it for you and me…for the mission. Jesus was righteous. We were worthy of shame. Jesus takes our shame so that we can have his righteousness. This is what Martin Luther called the “wonderful exchange.”
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners; wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.”
Jesus could have stopped this whole ordeal at any time. He told Pilate as much in John 19:10,11 “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
Pilate wasn’t doing this to Jesus. Jesus was allowing Pilate to crucify him. He was fulfilling his mission. The Bible says that this plan was mapped out before time began. Jesus was committed to fulfilling it because he was committed to you. He was committed to the mission of the gospel.
Hebrews 12:2-3 tells us why we need to pay attention to the ugly details of Jesus humiliation.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus endured his humiliation for the joy of his mission…giving you life. The author tells us to think about…to consider that opposition so that we will not give up…so that we too will live on that same mission for others. It’s easy to lose heart…to want to give up. Don’t do it. Look how far Jesus went. Look at what he endured.
We are on this earth to do the will of God. That is it. We are not here to make nice little lives for ourselves. We are here to build the kingdom. To live on mission for Jesus Christ. To know and do the will of God. That will look different for each one of us, but we cannot look at the example of Jesus Christ and be content with our excuses. How many reasons could Jesus give for not taking on humanity…for not dealing with our rejection…for not taking on our sin through his suffering? It didn’t matter. The mission mattered. The significance and joy of it was the driving force of Jesus life. It sustained him. That is what the mission of the gospel can do in our life, too.
Consider the example of Jesus, Rise up and live for the mission of the gospel.
Thanks for reading. If you find this helpful, please share it with others. It is a small thing that could make a big difference. It is one little way to get on mission.