(the following is an excerpt of sermon preached years ago by Paris Reidhead)
“And Jesus answered them saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Four times in the ministry Jesus mentioned the word ‘cross’.
- Matthew 10:38: “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
- Mark 10:21: He said to the rich young ruler; “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me.”
- Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
- Luke 14:27: “And whosoever doth not beat his cross, and come after Me, cannot be my disciple.”
The only four times the Lord Jesus mentioned the word ‘cross’ was in reference to His disciples. No wonder His disciples did not understand!
Let’s refer back to the immensity of the word “salvation.” Salvation includes not only saving us from sin but from the world. We have lived in this world; it has governed and controlled us. We have sought its rewards and served its interests.
In addition, salvation includes salvation from the flesh, our own personality and nature, traits and interests; those habits and attitudes we have developed and acquired. Another thing included is salvation from the devil. We were his bond slaves. We had given him control of our lives, at the age of accountability. The Lord Jesus died to set His people free. “Whom the Son makes free is free indeed.” (John 8:36) You are free from the fear of death, free from the fear of hell, free from the power of the devil. This is all part of His great salvation. No wonder the writer of Hebrews says, “How can we escape it we neglect so great salvation!?” God’s salvation intends deliverance from the penalty of our sin and from the certainty of hell, from the power of the flesh, the personality, the nature and the traits of the individual. This immense salvation includes deliverance from the power of Satan himself and the demons of darkness. How unthinkable it is to be selective!
After President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Confederate states, a plantation owner in the backwaters of Mississippi explained this landmark decision to his illiterate slaves in this manner. “I can’t sell you to anyone else, so you can work for me under the direction of the overseer, live in the slave cabins with your usual diet. Your families won’t be separated since I can’t sell you, but your daily life will be the same.”
The unfortunate slaves labored under that misinformation and abuse year after year until some outsider finally explained what emancipation” meant. . . FREEDOM.
Years ago an Englishman had made his fortune in the gold fields in California. He was returning to England to live. He forwarded his wealth to London and came overland by stage and river steamer to New Orleans. From there he planned to take a ship to New York and from there to England.
As a tourist in New Orleans he did as most tourists do; he went down to the slave market. In the early 1850’s slaves were still being sold in New Orleans and elsewhere in the South. It was a noisy, active market. Men were gathered observing a young, very beautiful black woman who was up for bid. He heard the men’s comments as they were speaking about her. He saw two evil looking men bidding for her, quite heatedly, and then he overheard them say what they would do with her. His heart revolted against the whole swinish business.
Finally, as the bids rose higher and more frenzied, he beckoned to the auctioneer and quoted a figure which was exactly twice the last bid, utterly beyond anything that had ever been paid for a slave in New Orleans before.
The auctioneer said, “Have you the money?” “Yes, I have.” So the bill of sale was made out. The Englishman went over to the block to claim the woman he had purchased. As she came down one step and stood just about level with his eyes, she spat full in his face and hissed through her clenched teeth, “I hate you.”
He said nothing. With the back of his hand he wiped the spittle away. Then he took her by the hand, walked down the street, through the mud, and down another street. Finally they came to a little office building. She couldn’t read and didn’t know what the building was.
The Englishman went to the desk and began to speak. The man behind the desk began to protest. Ignoring the agent’s protests, the Englishman said, “I insist. It’s the law. I insist.”
Finally, after the business transaction was completed, the Englishman received a paper with an official seal. He then walked over to the black woman, who was like a beast ready to spring on him. He extended the paper to her. “Here are your manumission papers. You are free.”
Still she hissed, “I hate you.”
“Don’t you understand? Here are your manumission papers. You are free.”
“No, I don’t understand. You paid twice as much for me as any buyer in the New Orleans market, now you are giving me my freedom. I don’t believe you.”
“Yes, these are your manumission papers, signed and officially sealed.” And he put them in her hand.
“Do you mean to say that you bought me to set me free?”
“Yes, that is why I bought you; to set you free.”
Tears came up into her eyes. Her face softened, and then she slipped to her knees and reached down and put her hands on those rough miner’s boots, and then laid her cheek down on the toe of one of them. Through her tears she sobbed, “You bought me to set me free; you bought me to set me free. You paid an exorbitant price just to set me free!”
Then she choked through her tears, “Sir, all I want in life is to be your slave. You bought me, to set me FREE.”
Listen, the Lord Jesus Christ bought you, to set you free. When you comprehend that it’s the joy of your life to be His bondslave forever. He bought you. He bought you to set you free, not only from hell, but from the world and the flesh and the devil. Oh, come to Him, kiss His nail pierced feet, and through humble tears, surrender yourself to Him who is most holy, and serve Him.