(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
Do you know what the shortest battle on record is before one army surrendered to another?
In modern era, one might guess the Iraq war when in 100 hours the ground assault was over and Iraq surrendered. However, the shortest war on record was fought between Britain and Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) on August 27, 1896. The huge British fleet issued an ultimatum to the sultan of Zanzibar, then followed with 38 minutes of bombardment before the badly mismatched sultan surrendered!
No one enters a battle planning to surrender. Military objectives assume victory. Usually one side doesn’t surrender until all options of victory are exhausted.
When you surrender, it means you yield control to the one you were fighting. You become servant to the one who won, or at least under their control. Your will is now subjected to the one to whom you surrendered.
From a human standpoint, it seems that total surrender would not be a good thing. It means we have to give up our control to someone else.
Yet, that is what the Christian life is all about: Total Surrender
What does it mean? What does it not mean? Who is surrendering to whom?
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
What Jesus teaches is quite compelling and commands total commitment. Jesus had just explained to his disciples that he would be moving forward with a path that involved suffering and death. Peter, naturally, rebuked Jesus and said, “This will never happen.” Yet Jesus had surrendered his life to the will of his Father, even if it meant heading to the cross.
Jesus wasn’t “giving up” as one defeated, but yielding his life and will to his Father. It was a voluntary surrender, not a forced one.
“Whoever wants to be…” This is a statement of reality. Jesus wasn’t going to force his disciples to make this sacrifice, but invite it under the shadow of his willingness to yield all for their benefit and salvation.
Matthew 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Jesus would not surrender to the enemy, but to his Father. He yielded his will to his Father because he knew the importance of the mission to bring all people to himself.
Surrender for the Christian isn’t giving in to the enemy, Satan, but rather giving up our sinful nature will to follow the grace-filled will of our Savior Jesus. It is a surrender that isn’t forced by defeat, but one that is yielded because of victory. Surrender is a recognition that my will, my plans, my life is better following the Lord Jesus than it would be if I tried to figure it all out myself.
So how does that happen? We’ll explore this week!
Apply: Reflect on Matthew 16:24-26. What do you think “taking up your cross” means as it pertains to following Jesus?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for taking up your cross and following your Father’s will to complete our salvation. Help my with your Spirit’s strength to take up my cross and follow you!