Unique in the annals of religion is the claim by Christianity that the reason Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was born was so that He could die. He may have, and did, come to do other things as well but without the primary reason of coming to die none of these other things mattered.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45, NKJV).
This makes no sense to our being whose inner drive is to find chayim (life) and to find it abundantly. We fight and we struggle not to die because death is something revolting to us. No one who has a lev (heart) of ahavah (love) has anything good to say about death other than in extreme situations such as to put a life out of irreversible and unbearable misery. Death shocks and horrifies us, especially when it concerns someone we are close to.
Extinguishing your own life is the last thing any sane person wants to do. When human beings come to the point of wanting to end their own life, or the life of another, they have fallen to rock bottom in the stakes of life. When there is nothing left to live for, life in its absolute sense has come to an end for that person. They have linked themselves to the spirit of anti-life which is the spirit of death and of Satan.
Looking around at this desperate world with all its misery and suffering it's understandable why many might not want to live any more. But it makes absolute no sense at all for the One who was the fullness of life itself choosing to die unless there was some grand and glorious purpose. Acts of self-sacrifice - of someone laying down their own life in order to save another - profoundly shake us and fill us with stunned awe, for self-sacrifice makes absolutely no sense to the ego - the self. Indeed, what such acts do is to reveal that there is more to a human being than self and self-seeking - there is something beyond us, and yet a part of us too, that seeks the welfare of others before self, and that when this self-negating, other-seeking is in motion, it animates a power that makes everything connected with self that we call 'life' seem so pale and miserable by comparison.
We know it's there - this 'beyond self' part of us - but for some reason we prefer to look away from it, as though it were either something unreal or contrary to self-survival and self-welfare, and therefore to be avoided. When you boil down all human experience and try to distill out the elements that make up the kind of life ultimately worth living, no matter what religion or culture you come from, you always come to this conclusion: a straight choice between serving self and serving others.
And we don't move on to the second level of understanding the purpose of life until we deal with this question.
Understanding the drive to survive is easy. Even the animals understand this. But understanding the reason to go beyond self-survival is what decouples us from the awareness of purely material existence and connects us to something much higher and less tangible.
You can be religious and never get beyond the first level. You can be absorbed in how you yourself can be saved and maintain that salvation. But what an irony for until you get beyond that, you really aren't saved at all! Not until we are interested in the salvation of others have we actually come anywhere near the core of what and who Elohim (God) is - and this not for ourselves but for Him!
For years I thought that I was a very spiritual person, and others thought I was a very spiritual person too, simply because I had met Yah'shua (Jesus), been born again, received the new life, and knew an awful lot of theology and human psychology. I knew that thinking such a way was not spiritual so I attempted to simply deflect all praise away from myself and mentally 'give Elohim (God the glory'. But it was play-acting.
We're awfully good play-actors. We see spirituality and try to mimick it without ever being spiritual. We think that imitation is the real thing. We simply ape religion. We have intense feelings about things and assume that this is the evidence of spirituality. But so long as we are looking at anything we do in the mirror or through the lens of a camera or imagine how others view us, we are deluding ourselves. We're just pretending to be what it is we are seeking for. For spirituality isn't even aware of itself. The moment it is, it ceases to be spirituality but egotism. It then identifies itself as being of the mortal, impermanent psyche.
Connecting to Yahweh-Elohim - for real - breaks that cycle of self-absorption. And the flesh hates it passionately and will devise any strategy to get self back into focus. The lens of self-focussing is what caused Heylel or Lucifer to fall. And it's what every fallen man and woman has done since.
We inherit that old recording of Satan's switch from looking at Elohim (God) to looking at self. It's a very old, scratched record that has been meticulously copied from generation to generation, from parent to child. It's the most pernicious form of virus replication known to man. It's mankind's deadly contagion.
We can't get rid of it so as not to pass it on to the next generation. There is no surgical procedure that would allow us to do so. We will never be able to bring forth a seed free of it. It is there in all its potency - all we can do is quarantine it by surrendering to Yah'shua (Jesus) until it perishes with the death of the mortal body. Even the flesh that the Son of Elohim (God) was born into was not free of it - it was there to tempt him in the raw just as it is us. So He knows. He understands. And He understands perfectly. Only He never yielded to its demands and lived a sinless Torah-obedient life and thus qualified to be our sin-bearer.
The reason Yah'shua (Jesus) died was to show us how we can deal this death-bug a fatal blow. Men have sought to deal with it in their own power but have spectaculously failed over and over again. Most attempted methods were violent and ineffective because they involved mutilating, imprisoning or suppressing parts of what it means to be human. The only method that seemed to 'work' was by denying humanity altogether and turning man into a kind of feelingless zombie, so transcendental as to be like taking a peanut out of its shell, discarding the peanut, and then calling the shell 'holy'. And even then you need demonic power to do all of that. It's a no-win situation.
Most oriental religion centres around this exercise in self-mutilation. The goal is to turn everyone into shells in the belief that all these shells will one day merge together and become one giant, formless shell called 'Nirvana'. That's their big goal, though they don't decorate the theology in quite that way and speak of it in more abstract terms like 'absorption'.
Sadly, much of Christianity has tried to imitate this oriental way through aestheticism. It too kills off vestiges of human personality (like demonising sexuality) even though it doesn't consciously seek to to that. It sees the cancer but doesn't know how to excise it without gorging out parts or the whole of the soul. It's a form of spiritual self-mutilation.
We have discovered and applied all sorts of ways of dehumanising ourselves - such as saying that life-long celibacy is the highest form of spirituality, or separating ourselves from society and retreating inside through meditation - and we perversely call it 'spirituality' to look for imaginary 'Christ-selves' or the like.
It's ironic - on the one hand you have the unbelieving hedonists doing everything to exalt self and you have the extremist religionists trying to deliberately destroy self and substitute it for something intangible. Both results are ugly. Both ways of life create monsters out of what are supposed to be beautiful people.
Dying to self does not mean killing, extinguishing or exterminating self. It means subjecting self to a higher principle in the same way that a son is supposed to subject himself to his father, in the same way that Yah'shua (Jesus) subjected Himself to Yahweh. So long as there is will, there is self. The goal is not to crush will but to perfectly subject or align it to a higher will so that two wills become echad (one), the lesser surrendering to the greater. Submission does not mean death to the self or to individuality. It means presenting self for a higher good and purpose once you have claimed self back from the forces of darkness. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Our will as humans is to the will of Him (Yah'shua) who sent us. Our spiritual food is doing Messiah's will and to finish the missions we have been assigned in this earth-life. That food is infinitely greater than any spiritual food obtainable from mortal people, creatures or things because it is a totally complete and everlasting diet. What is Yah'shua's (Jesus') will anyway? It is that we should inherit everything that He has obtained in sacrificing Himself. How? By being so surrendered that we can become the vessels to actually contain it! No surrender, no ability to either receive, hold or retain the Heavenly Gifts! You see, Yah'shua's (Jesus') motives are ultimately selfless. He simply wants the best for us but we fear in surrendering self to Him that we will get less than best - we fear we will get a rotten deal, eprhaps even cease to exist as individuals. Though cults may seek to steal your individuality, Yah'shua (Jesus) does not - He seeks to align it with perfection.
"My food is to do the will of Him (Yahweh) who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34, NKJV).
For Yah'shua (Jesus), Yahweh's will was paramount even in judgment (Jn.5:30) and in resurrection:
It surprises liberal 'Christians' that submitting to Yahweh's will also concerns submitting to all His perfect and complete teaching, doctrine or Torah too:
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting chayim (life); and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40, NKJV).
Submitting to the will of Yahweh also means yielding to correct doctrine. You can't pick and choose, nor twist it to suit the carnal inclination. But how are you going to do that if you don't know what it is? And how are you doing to know what it is without studying Scripture? If you're not studying your Bible, you're not coming to a perfect knowledge of His Davar (Word) and ipso facto cannot perfectly be in His will because you won't know the divine tavnith (pattern) concerning what it really is to be submitted to Him. Waiting for a revelation or a feeling will never substitute for that ground work any more than willing a beautiful garden into existence will occur without digging, planting, weeding and watering. That's one of the reasons we have been given the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to remind us to get busy in this essential activity. The seed needs good soil in which to thrive. If it isn't given this, it dies (Ezek.17:8; Mt.13:3-23). For how can we meditate on the Davar (Word), be linked to the Giver of the Davar (Word) and so be changed by it if we don't do as the Psalmist testifies?
"My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from Elohim (God) or whether I speak on My own toqef (authority)" (John 7:16-17, NKJV).
Since Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Davar (Word), how can we ever be submitted to Him if we don't truly know the Scriptures?
"My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word" (Ps.119:148, NKJV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) sought to bring glory to His Father in everything (Jn.7:18) just as we should seek to bring glory to Yah'shua (Jesus) in everything and as wife should seek to bring glory to her husband in everything, for a submitted "woman is the glory of man" (1 Cor.11:7, NKJV) as the glory of Elohim (God) is a submitted man walking in divine tavnith (pattern).
Many aspects of Messiah's work are to be realised in this life:
His desire in it all was that we might have an eternal relationship with Yahweh, just as a true husband's desire is that his wife might have an eternal relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus), "that they may know You, the only true Elohim (God) and Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) whom You have sent" (John 17:3, NKJV).
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10, NKJV).
But the primary goal of Messiah was to bring to climax Yahweh's redemptive strategy:
He knew that none of the other aspects of His work had any effect without atonement for sin, which was only possible if a blood sacrifice was made for that sin:
"For Elohim (God) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16, NKJV).
And chayim (life) is in the dahm (blood) (Gen.9:4; Lev.17:11,14).
"Greater ahavah (love) has no one than this, than to lay down one's chayim (life) for his friends" (John 15:13, NKJV).
We too must die but not as Messiah for we are not Elohim (God) - we cannot atone for anyone. However, we may be called to lay down our chayim (life) for Him if He calls for it, knowing we shall receive it back just as He did when He laid down His for us. We must lay down self-centred chayim (life) too so that we can have a Ruach (Spirit)-centred chayim (life) in Him, and thus be in a position to do His will and receive all that He desires to give us.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11, NKJV).
This is the reason Yah'shua (Jesus) came to earth - to die - and so bring eternal chayim (life) to mankind and the whole universe. We have to learn this same tavnith (pattern) of living (and dying) if we want to inherit that Kingdom where that tavnith (life) is the norm - a norm which does not exist in the world system that pursues self and death.
Those who protest the most against this divine tavnith (pattern) have, in my experience, the least shalom (peace) because they are facing away from this Kingdom and are being drawn into death. Let us finally yield to Messiah's Chayim (Life) and obtain every blessing promised by it so that we may lead others to the same. Amen.