Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus as written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the order twenty-two verses or the twenty-first chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find Jesus beginning His journey to Jerusalem—His journey to the place where He would ultimately be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. Thus far within the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus as recorded by the apostle Matthew we find two distinct and specific instances where Jesus began revealing to His disciples that He must needs go unto Jerusalem, be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders, suffer and ultimately be put to death. In fact, the first recorded declaration of Jesus’ need to journey unto Jerusalem is found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. What’s so interesting and unique about this particular declaration, however, is that it cake immediately after and directly on the heels of Jesus asking His disciples who men said that He was. After hearing the opinions of others and what the disciples had heard concerning the identity of Jesus, Jesus then flips the script and asks the disciples very pointedly and plainly who they said and who they believed Him to be. The apostle Peter immediately opened His mouth and emphatically declared and proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God. This declaration was praised by the Lord Jesus as He knew and understood that flesh and blood had and did not reveal this unto Peter, but His Father who was in heaven. What’s so interesting and unique about Jesus praise of the apostle Peters declaration and profession of faith was that immediately after this experience and encounter Jesus pulls his disciples aside and begins speaking unto them how He must needs go to Jerusalem, be betrayed into the hands of the scribes, chief priests and elders, and be handed over to death. Ultimately, however—despite being betrayed, suffering and being handed over to be put to death He would rise from the grave on the third day.
What we find in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is a wonderful and powerful picture of one who was willing to make the necessary journey to a place that most others would reject, and most others would shy away and run away from. What we find in this particular passage is Jesus beginning to make His way to the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of the scribes, the chief priests and the elders. Pause for a moment and consider this awesome and tremendous reality—the reality of knowing you must needs make your way to a certain and specific place where you would not only suffer many things, but would also be lulled and crucified. Tell me—if you knew that by going to a certain place you would surely and ultimately suffer many things at the hands of others, would you go? If you knew that your journey to a specific place would not only bring you much pain, much suffering, many wounds, many bruises, and could even cost you your life—would you go? How strong is your faith, how strong is your trust, how strong is your confidence in the living God to make such a journey, and to perhaps leave the comfort and relative safety and security of where you are in order that you might not only fulfill the plan of God for your life, but also suffer at the hands of others? How many of us would not only willingly and voluntarily make such a journey, but would in fact openly embrace both the journey and the suffering. EMBRACING THE JOURNEY AND THE SUFFERING! We dare not miss or lose sight of the significance of agreeing to make the journey to a place we know we will inevitably face, experience and endure suffering at the hands of others. In all reality, many of us would do whatever we could to avoid the place of suffering, and suffering altogether. There are many of us who would without thinking twice do anything and everything we could to void making our way to that place we know we are going to face and endure suffering.
When I read the words which are found and contained within this particular passage of scripture, I can’t help but be faced and confronted with one who was willing to embrace the journey to suffering. EMBRACING THE JOURNEY TO SUFFERING! EMBRACING THE JOURNEY TO DEATH! What we must recognize and realize is that as surely and as certainly as Jesus was embracing the journey to suffering, and as much as He was embracing the journey to death on the cross, that which she was ultimately don’t was embracing the journey to fulfilling the will of the Father. By embracing the journey toward suffering, and by embracing the journey to the place of death, Jesus was in all reality embracing the journey to fulfilling the will, the plan and the purpose of God. Would it surprise you if I declared unto you that sometimes embracing the journey to the place of suffering, and embracing the journey to the place or death is embracing the journey to the will of the Father? How many reading this writing would believe that the journey to the place of suffering and the journey to walking in and fulfilling the will of the Father are one and the same? How many would believe that the journey to the place of our death and the journey to fulfill the will of the Father are one and the same, and are intrinsically linked and connected? There would be those among us who would choose to believe that we can separate the journey to the place of suffering and the journey to the place of fulfilling the will of God. There would be those among us who would think and believe that we can someone disconnect the journey to the place of suffering from the journey to fulfilling the will of God within and for our lives. I am becoming increasingly convinced that there are certain and specific times within our lives when fulfilling the will of God for our lives and facing, experiencing and enduring suffering are one and the same. We would like to think that somehow we can separate suffering from the will of God and suffering from fulfillment of the will of God, and the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and cannot be the case. Regardless of how hard we might try to separate fulfilling the will of God and suffering at the hands of others, there are times when the two are one in the same and cannot be separated. Try and try as we may to separate suffering at the hands of others and fulfilling the will of God, the two are more synonymous than we would even think, expect, and even realize. What’s more, is that there are certain and specific times within our lives when suffering at the hands and at the behest of others is in fact the true and complete fulfillment of the will of God. When Jesus made His way to the city of Jerusalem, what He was ultimately doing—as certain and as much as He was agreeing to the journey toward the place of suffering was agreeing to fulling the divine will, plan and purpose of the true and living God.
Before we can truly get into the words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, it is first necessary that we understand the tremendous need Jesus had to make the journey to Jerusalem. What marks and what makes this so incredibly interesting and intriguing is that Jesus had been to Jerusalem before, and yet it had never been the place and source of His suffering. It’s interesting to note and consider the fact that it is possible that we can make our way to a place we have visited before—perhaps even a place we are somewhat familiar and acclimated with—and find in that place something we had never experienced before. It is possible that we are called by the divine will and plan of God to return to a place we have visited and spent time in before, and yet making our way back to that place will bring us face to face—not only with suffering at the hands of others, and ultimately death, but ultimately fulfilling the will of God. There are times within our lives when the living God will require us to return to that place we have once visited, and perhaps even spent time in, and there in that place we not only fulfill the will of God, but we fulfill the will of God through suffering, and suffering at the hands of others. I feel it necessary to present you with both instances and occurrences within Scripture where Jesus begins speaking unto His disciples and revealing unto them the reality that His journey would lead Him to the city of Jerusalem, and there in the city of Jerusalem He would face, experience and endure suffering. I will first bring your attention to the words which we find in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew—including Jesus’ asking His disciples who others said He was, as well as who they said He was. I will then bring and call your attention to the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples a second time concerning His journey to Jerusalem, and there in the city of Jerusalem He would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, scribes, and elders, would suffer, would be scourged, would be mistreated, and would ultimately die upon the cross of Calvary. Ultimately, in both places—while we find Jesus speaking of His need to journey unto the city of Jerusalem, and to suffer and die, we find suffering and death not being the end of the story, nor the end of the road for Him, for He would rise again on the third day. Consider now if you will the words which we find in the sixteenth and twentieth chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the Keyes of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what man is a profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to His works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:13-28).
“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him; and the third day He shall rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19).
It is what we find in each of these two passages that we find both occurrences where Jesus would speak directly unto His twelve disciples and reveal unto them how He must needs travel and journey unto the city of Jerusalem. It is within both of these occurrences and events within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ where we find Him knowing and understanding that He must needs travel and journey unto the city of Jerusalem in order that He might suffer many things—first at the behest and at the hands of the chief priests, scribes, elders and Pharisees, and secondly at the behest and at the hands of the Gentiles. Immediately after asking the disciples who they said and believed Him to be, He immediately followed that declaration made by the apostle Peter with an emphatic declaration that now that they knew and understood who He was, he was going to journey unto Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders and the Pharisees, and would ultimately be killed and crucified. Pause for a moment and consider that reality, for it is actually quite interesting. Consider how immediately following a wonderful and powerful declaration concerning who Jesus the Christ was, that revelation and declaration would be followed by a declaration of Jesus Himself, as He would speak unto the disciples concerning His journey to Jerusalem where He would suffer many things, would be killed, and would ultimately be raised from death to life on the third day. It’s almost as if directly in the face of revelation concerning the identity of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God, Jesus would not only reveal unto His disciples that He needed to journey to the city of Jerusalem, but also that He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders, and would ultimately be killed. It is necessary that we pay attention to this reality, for by paying attention to this reality we allow ourselves to be confronted with the wonderful and awesome reality that almost as soon as the identity of Jesus was confirmed by Himself according to a revelation of the Father unto the apostle Peter, He began shewing unto them that He needed to journey and travel to Jerusalem where He would suffer many things, and ultimately be killed outside the city. It’s almost as if the disciples had finally began to understand who Jesus Christ truly was that He would need to journey to the city of Jerusalem and ultimately be killed. I am completely and utterly convinced that this is absolutely necessary—not only to fulfill the will, the plan and the purpose of the living God for the life of Jesus, and all of humanity, but it was also necessary for the disciples to be brought into the place of complete and absolute trust and confidence in the living God, and upon His Christ. Sure they had followed Him for three and a half years, but there was a need for Him to be temporarily removed from their company and from their presence in order that their faith might be strengthened, and in order that they might truly believe in and on the person of Jesus Christ. It would be His resurrection from the grave, and His shewing Himself unto them with many infallible proofs during those forty days after the resurrection that the faith of the disciples would be strengthened—together with their confidence, their trust, and their hope.
The more I consider the reality of Jesus recognizing His need to journey unto the city of Jerusalem, the more I can’t help but think of another individual within Scripture whose journey would also require Him to travel unto Jerusalem. If you turn and direct your attention to the New Testament book of Acts, you will find the account of the apostle Paul, and that when he was saying goodbye and bidding farewell to the Ephesian elders knowing he would never see them again, he began to speak unto them how he must needs continue his journey—not only not knowing what will befall him, but knowing that wherever he would travel bonds and afflictions would follow him. I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome and tremendous reality of what we find in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the eighteenth verse of the chapter. It is within this particular chapter where we find the apostle Paul not only bidding farewell unto the Ephesian elders, but also speaking unto them concerning that which he would experience from that moment forward. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders as he bid them farewell:
“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testify both to the Jews, and also the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:18-35).
What we find in this particular passage of Scripture is the first declaration of the apostle Paul concerning his need to journey unto Jerusalem, and how he did not know what would befall him there. The only thing Paul knew was that the Holy Spirit bore witness and testified within his heart and spirit that bonds and afflictions would befall him in every city. Imagine knowing you must needs make your way and make your journey to a specific place, and not knowing what will befall you when you made it there, but knowing that everywhere you would travel leading up to that place would contain bonds and afflictions. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the apostle Paul knew that in every city where he would travel, bonds and afflictions would befall him—this after he had already experienced tremendous opposition in Corinth, in Thessalonica, in Berea, in Athens, and in various other cities. In fact, chapters seventeen and eighteen contain a tremendous amount of language concerning the tremendous suffering the apostle Paul experienced at the hands of the Jews in these various cities. So intense was the suffering which the apostle Paul experienced that he moved from city to city—not only to escape the opposition and persecution of the Jews, but also to spread the Gospel concerning Jesus Christ and the kingdom of heaven unto the Gentiles. With that being said, it’s worth noting and pointing out that the apostle Paul would abide in the city of Corinth for a full eighteen months before moving on from that place, and would abide in the city of Ephesus for the space of three years before moving on from that city. We dare not think that the apostle Paul ran from all opposition, all affliction, all suffering, and all persecution He experienced as he pursued the call of God upon his life. The apostle Paul wasn’t one who ran away from struggle. The apostle Paul wasn’t one who ran away from suffering! The apostle Paul wasn’t one who ran away from the fight! The apostle Paul wasn’t one who ran away from affliction and opposition! The apostle Paul was one who followed in the footsteps of His Lord and Master Jesus Christ, and faced trials and tribulations head on. I can’t help but be reminded of what would take place within the life of the apostle Paul in the twenty-first chapter of the same New Testament book of Acts beginning with the eighth verse. Consider if you will that which is found and recorded in this particular passage of Scripture:
“And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owners this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them not Manson of Cyprus, an old disciples, with whom we should lodge” (Acts 21:8-16).
ARE YOU WILLING TO RUN TOWARDS THE FIGHT? ARE YOU WILLING TO RUN TOWARDS THE STRUGGLE? ARE YOU WILLING TO RUN TOWARDS THE OPPOSITION? WILL YOU CEASE YOUR STRIVING AGAINST THE SUFFERING? WILL YOU CEASE YOUR STRIVING AGAINST THE WILL OF GOD? WILL YOU RECOGNIZE THAT IN STRIVING AGAINST SUFFERING YOU MIGHT VERY WELL BE STRIVING AND CONTENDING WITH AND AGAINST THE WILL OF THE LIVING GOD? I can’t help but consider within my heart and spirit that right now at this very moment the Spirit of the living God is calling us to cease all our striving against suffering, and to cease all our striving against affliction, and against opposition, and against trials and tribulation. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his second epistle unto the Corinthian saints in the eleventh and twelfth chapters. It is within these chapters where instead of finding the apostle Paul running away from the fight, and running away from the struggle, and running away from the opposition, he welcomed and embraced it. I am convinced that before we transition back to what we find in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, we need to look at and examine the words which we find in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second epistle written unto the Corinthians. Beginning with the sixteenth verse of the eleventh chapter we find find the following words:
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly), I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am i. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am i. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands…”
“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third haven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fall; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I will take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10).
What I absolutely love about that which is written and recorded in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is not necessarily the fact that Jesus sent two of His disciples to go into the village where they would find an ass tied, and a colt with here, nor even that He instructed them to loose them and bring them unto Him. When this passage begins and opens up, it does so with Jesus making His way unto Jerusalem, and within the very first verse we find Matthew recording “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come unto Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives.” It is quite clear from reading this first verse that Jesus was not one who chose to shy away from suffering, nor was He one that shied away from persecution, nor was he one that shied away from afflictions and opposition. In fact, I would dare say the exact opposite is true, for what we find is Jesus running towards the suffering, running towards the affliction, running towards the opposition, and running towards that which would ultimately cost Him His life. Much like Abraham who rose early the next morning after the Lord had instructed him to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac at the place He would show him, Jesus made His way to Jerusalem knowing that it would be in Jerusalem He would not only fulfill the will of God, but would also fulfill the will of God through suffering, through affliction, through opposition, and ultimately through death. The first verse of this chapter brings us face to face with a Jesus who faced head on the suffering that was before Him—a reality which we find in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3). If you read the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, what is the first thing you find Jesus doing knowing He must needs journey unto Jerusalem? Upon reading this particular passage you will find that the very first thing Jesus did while making His way unto Jerusalem was beginning to fulfill the will of God, and even fulfilling Scripture. Consider what is found beginning with the fourth verse and continuing through to the very next verse: “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4-5). In His pursuit to embrace and face the suffering and opposition head on, Jesus began that journey by fulfilling Scripture, and by further fulfilling the will of God for His life. Oh, please don’t miss that, for in His journey and in His pursuit to journey unto Jerusalem where suffering and death would befall Him, Jesus set out to fulfill Scripture, and thus fulfilling the predeterminate will of the living God.
I absolutely love what we find and read in this particular passage of Scripture, for not only do we find Jesus fully embracing the journey to Jerusalem, but we also find Jesus fully embracing the journey to the place of suffering, and the journey to the place of affliction and opposition. I can’t help but read these words and be completely and utterly convicted and challenged by the tremendous need to not shy away from the suffering, to not shy away from the struggle, to not shy away from the fight, but to actually embrace and run towards it. Even if that means we carry our cross along our own Via Dolorosa, and even stumble along the way, we are to embrace fully and completely the tremendous and awesome need to suffer, to struggle, and to experience opposition and affliction. There are far too many men and women who will run away from the conflict, who will run away from the struggle, who will run away from the battle, and there are very few who will stand and fight, and even fewer who will actually embrace the journey toward such a place of suffering, such a place of affliction and opposition, and even such a place of death. Much like those who after the Twin Towers were struck by terrorists nearly eighteen years ago chose to run into the destruction and run towards danger instead of running away from it in order that they might save the lives of those inside the buildings, so also men and women who follow Christ are destined to run towards the fire, to run towards the flood. Oh, there are far too many men and women who would choose to run away from the fire, and who would choose to run away from the flood, and do not recognize and realize that for such a life were and have they been called. Oh that you who are reading these words—including myself who am writing them—would come to the awesome and tremendous realization that more often than not suffering and the will of God cannot be separated from each other, and that more often than not they are synonymous with each other. In these last days, the Spirit of the Lord is looking for those who will not only deny themselves, who will not only take up their cross, those who will follow Jesus the Christ, but those who are willing to fully embrace the struggle, and fully embrace the conflict and the battle. Are you such a one who will not only embrace the conflict and the struggle, but one who would run towards the conflict and struggle, and one will face and deal with it head on. Now is not the time to tuck tail and run away from hardship, run away from conflict, run away from the struggle, and run away from the battle, but to stand our ground and fight, and to even recognize when we are called to embrace and journey toward the place of suffering and struggle. Oh that we would not seek a life of comfort and ease, and that we would not allow ourselves to get too comfortable, but that we would with everything that is within us make our way to our own Jerusalem, and fully embrace the will and plan of God for our lives, knowing that such a course will put us on a direct collision course with struggle, with conflict, with suffering, with opposition, with affliction, and perhaps even death.