A hill to die on

By , September 9, 2011

“…he went out to the place of the Skull…Here they crucified him,”
John 19:17-18 (NIV)

My wife, a psychotherapist by training, has an arresting figure of speech she likes to use with both her clients at times and occasionally with me. It is in the form of a question and is, “Is this a hill you are willing to die on?” At times many of us get very upset over things that are not worth a lot in the long run.

For some the size of the issue is of no significance whatever, control is all that matters. They are determined to have their way regardless of the cost. To these people we need to shrug our shoulders and steer clear of them.

Years ago when I was preaching somewhere, in a day when men usually cut their hair shorter than women, I was in the foyer after church speaking to a fine young man who sported a long pony tail. An older man who apparently knew him came up to us and grabbed the young man’s pony tail and said to him, “When are you going to cut this off?”

You may wonder what sort of church I was preaching in. Well, I am not about to confess, except to say that I knew it was not the common opinion among the members. I believe it was a safe judgment that the regular members were just very happy that he chose to come at all.

Yet, in life, there are those rare occasions when we know we are on a hill we must die on if push comes to shove. All through the Gospels you can witness Jesus in difficult situations where people pushed Him to the limit. Yet He did not retaliate or insist on His rights. He taught us to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). As far as I can tell in the accounts of Jesus life He only once refused to turn the other cheek (John 18:22-23).

Yet, when it came to His identity, Jesus chose that as the hill on which to die in more ways than one. In various Scriptures Jesus laid claim to being God. He took sacred names reserved for God and claimed them for Himself such as Shepherd (Psalm 23:1 cf. John 10:11); Bridegroom (Hosea 2:16 cf. Mark 2:19). He also claimed to be able to do things people knew that only God could do such as forgive sins (Jeremiah 31:34 cf. Luke 5:21).

The audacity of anyone doing this consigns them to a psychiatric ward in our modern hospitals as delusional. In Jesus’ time it was far more serious and called for a trial and if found guilty the penalty was death. That was the hill Jesus died on, the hill of His being God in human form.

This is the One that we encourage you to come to with your load of sorrow and sin and ask Him to be your Shepherd, the Shepherd who died on a hill called Calvary (the place of a skull). We urge you to call Him the Lord of your life because He rose from the dead. He is the One who has all power and authority to strengthen and guide His sheep all the way home. Do you see that Jesus is enough and will you come today?

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