As I watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” I finally got the answer to a question my 10 year old daughter has asked me countless times: “Daddy, what if you could go back in time and be any one you wanted to be?”
I have decided that if I had that opportunity, I would like to be the man who helped Jesus carry his cross on the Via Dolorosa. Can you imagine? What an honor and privilege that would be!
Knowing that opportunity will never come my way, I was encouraged to come across a classic sermon by one of my all-time favorite preachers, Leonard Fox. This is a man who back in 1976 spoke prophetic words over my life as a part of the presbytery at my convocation in Bible College and whose sermons always challenged me to the core.
The sermon is on Galatians 6:17 where Paul writes:
“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
Fox points out that Webster defines “mark,” among other things, as:
What A “Mark” Signifies
1) recognition of ownership
2) The outer sign of something that is stamped in written I the character of the person.
So when Paul writes “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” he is proclaiming Christ’s lordship in his life and testifying to the transforming power of God’s grace in his character.
These marks– distinctive traits– were first manifested in the life of our Savior…then the apostles….then passed on to us all who are “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom. 8:32) They are the distinguishing characteristics of all disciples of Jesus.
According to Fox, here are…
8 Distinctive Marks of Jesus
1. Forgiveness of injuries (“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do…” Also Col. 3:13; I john 2:6)
2. No self pity (“Don’t weep for me” …Luke 23:28)
3. Joy in spite of difficulties…(“Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross”…Heb 12:1-4)
4. Calm receptivity…(“I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence”…John 8:38)
5. Courage (Jesus had courage in the face of growing opposition and certain crucifixion–Isa 40:31)
6. The power to take it…unbeatable (“obedient to death…therefore God exalted him.” Phil 2:8-9)
7. He cared deeply…every man’s hunger was His own (“he had compassion on them” Matt. 9:36)
8. He gave himself (“he suffered death, so that … he might taste death for everyone” Heb 2:9).
While only one man was chosen to help Jesus carry His cross on that fateful day 2000 years ago, today the invitation is open to us all:
” Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)