Devotion. Day 33 of Lent. How we finish The Story.
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Rev 12:11
From Day 31 of Lent there was The Story of the Moravian Missionaries and their rallying call of “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!” On Day 32 of Lent The Story continued with Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf’s call to Serve after he read the words, “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?” On Day 33 we finish the story with Devotion, after realizing Christ died for us and we, the Church are the reward of His suffering.
Acts 20:28 says that God purchased the church with Christ’s blood. “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” On the authority of this text we can say: Christ’s bleeding wounds were meant to purchase me. The Savior’s drops of blood were shed to obtain my redemption.”
Understanding that the Church of God is the reward of Christ’s suffering we realize we are not our own. We have been bought with a price. Redeemed from the wrath of God and the destination of eternal hell and given eternal life.
We are Christ’s reward and this truth moves our heart with devotion-an ardent, often selfless affection and dedication to Him.
Christ suffered to cleanse and beautify His people, His bride. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25–27
What was the reward of His suffering? To sanctify His church that the holiness-spiritual beauty-of his people will be His reward. To present her to Himself in splendor; without spot or wrinkle, so His reward will be the beauty of His bride. The Church, Christ Bride, will be splendid and glorious at the marriage feast of the Lamb.
When ask what the most important commanded was, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’ Are you loving Christ with all your might to render to Jesus the reward of his suffering—to offer up to him what He has purchased? Is your heart in tune with his heart, understanding what Christ suffered for, not that you would be blessed with health and wealth and live in a comfort zone of happiness-all outward things, but that you might be holy, spiritually beautiful, set apart for Him, becoming more and more like Him daily. He considered your holiness worth dying for; are you considering His love worth living for or do you neglect what he died to purchase?
So the reward of Christ’s sufferings is the holiness of his people. He suffered and bled and died to obtain a people and to make that people holy—clean and beautiful. Your holiness—your spiritual beauty—is the reward of his sufferings and the purchase of his blood.
This spiritually beautiful bride of Christ will be passionate for Good Deeds. “He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.” Titus 2:11-14 (MSG) Or as the NIV translates, “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”
He gave himself to make a people zealous for good deeds. He shed his blood to purchase your passion for practical righteousness, for showing mercy, for benevolence and goodness and kindness, for courage and compassion. Notice this carefully: he did not die merely to get you to start trying harder, to stop doing some bad things or get you to do some good things. He died to change something in our spirit, to fan into flame a fire in us to serve, passionately.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Christ suffered and bled and died to give you, the people who love Him, a zeal for doing good. Do you have a passion for doing good to people? The eternal good through being a witness of the good news of the gospel and a temporal good of serving others as a means to that end, that they too may be saved. How are you loving your ‘neighbors’? Are you denying Christ the reward of his sufferings by only serving yourself?
The passion of those early Moravian missionaries was zealous and peculiar. Zinzendorf made sure that they never forgot the blood of Jesus. They understood: my life, my holiness-spiritual beauty, my passionate love for others shown in service was purchased at the price of his blood. How can I not live for his honor with every breath I take! How can I not freely offer up to him what he has purchased with his blood and give Him wholehearted service?
Finally, the reward of Christ’s sufferings is a ransomed church from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. In Revelation 5:9 the Lamb of God is worshiped with these words, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
We are the reward of Christ suffering, the redeemed of every tribe, tongue, people and nation, made spiritually beautiful and zealous for good works. The reward of His suffering is also the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and justification by faith (Romans 5:9), and reconciliation with God (Romans 5:10), and cleansing of our consciences (Hebrews 9:14), and the final victory over Satan (Revelation 12:11).
When I first heard this story of the Moravian missionaries, I found in comparison my own heart had a terrible indifference to the price Jesus paid for my holiness and my zeal for service and my passion for world evangelism. Yet their inspirational parting cry to family and friends can becoming our meditative prayer of devotion; making a difference now in how we live for Him. “MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING.”
Lord Jesus, as your reward, may there be nothing we want more in life than what You suffered, bled and died to obtain. Let us love You with all our might to render to You with passion the reward of Your suffering; an inner holiness of a beautiful spirit, a zeal for service, a passion for witnessing to our world the good news of the gospel to the praise of Your glory. Amen