“I am not going to do it! I need to lose some weight. I need to think about my health.” This is what I was thinking as I pushed away the butter-chess pie to the middle of the table. I had already eaten half of it and it was RICH! But my eyes would not move away. My heart began to pound. I thought to myself, “How often to I eat at Furr’s?” (This is the only place I know where I can get it.) That piece of pie seduced me with sultry eyes and a smokey voice calling to me, “Just one more bite…” I was suddenly unaware of any of my surroundings. Lost in a new world of butter-chess wonder, I sat frozen. The Cowboys were actually winning on the television just above me, but it didn’t matter. The tension was building and my blood was pumping. Everything came to a climax as the waitress said, “Can I take that away and clear some space for you?” Why must she be so mean?!? I blurted out my answer the my fate was sealed.
Some things are so difficult to throw away. They seem to be something good and something wonderful, but it is a lie straight from the pits of Hell and no, I am not just talking about butter-chess pie.
When Jesus came back to life after spending three days in the depth of the Earth, the Scripture says that He took the cloth that had been wrapped around him and just laid it down as if tossed without care, discarded to the floor of that tomb. Not so the piece of cloth they had placed around his face. But the cloth that had wrapped his dead body, he frivolously flung to the floor.
These were the strips of linen that those who loved him had filled with 75 to 100 pounds of spices. A common man might be wrapped in linen with one pound of spices, but Jesus was so well thought of by His followers that they overloaded the strips of cloth. It was a sign of honor. It represented His reputation in their mind.
When I first began to study this, I wondered why the face cloth was folded neatly, but these strips of linen were just discarded as if they had no value though so much had gone into them. And we know the Lord does nothing by accident. Before He leaves the tomb, He folds up one piece of cloth and throws away these spice-filled strips of linen. They had been wrapped tightly around His body, but now He disrobed and tossed His reputation to the side as if it didn’t matter what people thought of Him. It was not the first time He had done this. Philippians says that He disrobed His glory to make Himself of no reputation when He left Heaven to fill the womb of a modest woman. At the last supper, He disrobed again and placed a towel around his waist. Leaving his reputation on the floor even as Peter objected, the King became the servant. At his death, before the grave cloths, they removed his robe with great care. It was the robe they had placed on Him mocking Him as the King of the Jews. He diminished Himself to criminal on the cross for our sins. And now, before He breaks out of the tomb, He lays aside the opinion of people.
Our care of what people think of us must be tossed to the side if we ever want to live in the power of the resurrection. Though Jesus was loved by some and they wrapped him in such spices, others hated Him, crucified Him, and then He was placed in the tomb. The tombs of life remind us that we will never please everyone. We will never be liked, much less, loved and approved by everyone. There will always be those who think highly of us and others who want to tear us down. To care too much about what they think is like the grave clothes that wrapped Jesus’ dead body keeping Him limbs from moving freely. The purpose of those dark tomb moments are to reveal to us that we might care too much about what people think. In the darkness, we are alone. We can’t hear the cheers nor the jeers. We are there alone with the One who never leaves us nor forsakes us, even in the tombs. To roll away the stone, we must learn to live for His opinion alone. We must throw our reputation away.
I don’t mean to say that we don’t want to have a good reputation. But to live for the approval of people is a tomb. It brings death. We must live to please God and in doing so, some will think highly of us as we love them and live with integrity. Still others will despise us. If the world hated Christ, why do we take it so hard when people hate us. Allowing their opinions to weigh us down, keeping us from moving into God’s plan for our life is something that we must push away. And sometimes, it is the flattery of others that we must push to the middle of the table. If we let their compliments affect us to much, it is like eating the rest of that butter-chess pie. It tastes good, but for the rest of the afternoon, you will be laying on the couch moaning and groaning in discomfort. Trust me on this one…I know firsthand.
Let us humble ourselves, making ourselves of no reputation just as Christ did. When we learn to live like this, we will defy the spirit of death trying to destroy our life. Instead, we will live in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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