Mike Novotny - Suffer Anyway
I'm standing in the old city of Jerusalem. It's a bright, beautiful day. It's also a busy day. It's a Jewish holiday. So if you hear cars and children and horns and motorcycles, don't panic, that's just life in the big city. I'm actually standing in front of the Zion Gate, one of the many gates that surrounds and fills the ancient walls of Jerusalem. If you don't know much about the ancient world, they built walls because people weren't always nice. When enemies would come marching in, the walls would keep you safe and keep you away from the danger that was outside. But you still had to build gates, right? For people to come in and out, to work the fields, to get water, to visit relatives, and they could close the gates if there was any danger.
There's this really interesting line in the book of Hebrews that mentions what happened to Jesus when he died. Listen to these words from Hebrews, chapter 13, "And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood." That's a way of saying, Jesus physically was crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem, out in this dangerous place where enemies were. You know exactly what happened to him.
And yet, listen to how the passage continues: "Let us, then", believers, "go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore." That's a call to leave the safety and security of these little cities that we build for ourselves, to truly follow Jesus even if it means we have to take up a cross and suffer for him.
In fact, the whole book of Hebrews is about that. That, if you follow Jesus, not everyone will love you or accept you. They might not agree with your values or everything you post on social media. And it's very tempting to play it safe and stay inside the city where we deny Jesus with our words and actions. But the author here says, "Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore." And let me leave you with the reason why. Verse 14: "For here", with Jesus, "we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come."
Like, even a city like Jerusalem, can only keep you safe for so long. Eventually, you take your last breath and you have to see God. But if you go to Jesus, and give up everything in this life, Jesus offers you the Heavenly Jerusalem, a place that's filled with joy and happiness, comfort, safety, there is no threat, no danger. There's just God. And it endures forever. So don't be afraid to suffer for Jesus. At your middle school, your college, your family, on your social media feed, Jesus offers you the best thing in all of human history, a place in the city of God. That's a powerful message we learn right here at the city of Jerusalem.