Suffering with Christ
Pakistan is a country where it is often difficult for Christians to profess their faith in public. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider just recently preached about the Passion of Christ and the fact that those who follow Jesus Christ often do not have an easy time of it. Nevertheless, it is worth it.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visited the congregation of Karachi in Pakistan on 23 February 2020. He based his sermon on Hebrews 13: 12–13, where it says: “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
Outside the gate
The Chief Apostle first of all explained why Jesus had to leave Jerusalem for Golgotha in order to deliver mankind through His sacrifice.
“That was the way the Romans did it.” Like everyone else who was condemned to death by the Romans, Jesus was also paraded through the city and had to carry His cross to the place where He was to be executed. The idea was that the people could see it and that the punishment would have a deterrent effect on them.
“Jerusalem rejected Jesus. He had to go out of the city.” There were several reasons for this, the Chief Apostle explained:
- “They accepted Him as a prophet, but rejected Him as the Son of God.”
- “They did not accept Him as the way of salvation.” They believed that obedience to the law alone would guarantee them salvation.
- “They did not accept Him because He called them hypocrites.”
- “They rejected Him because He did not want to punish the sinners, but forgive them.”
- “Finally, they wanted Jesus to liberate them from the yoke of Roman bondage.” They were disappointed that He would not be their ruler and sort everything out.
“In the Old Testament, in the law of Moses, when a criminal was sentenced to death he had to be executed outside the camp.” Innocent as He was, Jesus took the sins of mankind upon Himself and was prepared to die the death of a criminal so that man could be saved.
In the second verse of the Bible text it says that Christians must “go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach”. The Chief Apostle gave the congregation some practical advice in this connection. He said that we must:
- leave the camp of those who reject Him as the Son of God: “Those who believe in Jesus Christ, those who believe that He is the Son of God and not only a prophet are sometimes pushed to the fringes of society—out of the camp.”
- leave the camp of those who believe that they deserve salvation on account of having done a lot of good: “We know that grace is the only thing that can save us.”
- leave the camp of the hypocrites: “They do good deeds, but it’s all show. They want to be seen by others, but their heart and their motivation is not pure.”
- leave the camp of those who want God to punish the sinners: “He definitely wants to save all sinners. He even loves His enemies.” Punishing them is not in keeping with the gospel.
- leave the camp of those who want to have Jesus as a ruler: “Jesus made it very clear: My kingdom is not of this world. He does not want to fix everything on earth and sort everything out. He wants to lead us into His kingdom.”
“Actually, we too are condemned to death,” the Chief Apostle said. At Holy Baptism the person being baptised spiritually suffers the death on the cross. He kills the old nature by renouncing sin and acting differently. “We carry our cross so that everyone can say: ‘They are not only Christians, but they have also decided to kill the old Adam.”
Those who leave the camp of the sinners and follow Jesus and carry their cross will be led into the “continuing city” (Hebrews 13: 14). “Jesus will deliver us”, the Chief Apostle promised, “and make us free from all sufferings, all difficulties, and from all problems on earth.”
In conclusion, Chief Apostle Schneider expressed a wish: “Let us help our neighbour and share with him.” He asked the congregation to especially intercede for the deceased: “They too have to leave their camps and follow Jesus, to accept His teaching and renounce the idea of punishment for sinners. They have to accept and trust Jesus and be saved through His grace—and we want to pray for them to encourage them.”