Does the name Rufus mean anything to you? If you are familiar with Romans 16:13, you know that Paul praises a Rufus as “a choice man in the Lord.” Where does this Rufus come from and how did he come to be “in the Lord?”
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we learn that a man named Simon was pressed into service to carry the cross for Jesus (MT 27:32; MK 15:21; LK 23:26). This was required, no doubt, because Jesus had been lashed and beaten severely by the Romans. Simon, who carried the patibulum (cross-beam) for Jesus, is basically unknown in scripture. The bible says very little about him, but that he was coming in from the country – basically a passer-by! The bible does record one interesting fact though. In Mark 15:21, we are told that Simon was the father of “Alexander and Rufus.”
Many scholars agree that this Rufus is the same one that Paul refers to in Romans 16:13 as “a choice man in the Lord.” If this is the same Rufus, can you imagine what an impression it must have made on him to know of (or possibly to have seen) his father carrying the cross for Jesus? And did Rufus become famous among Christians because of what his dad did? Is that what led Paul to recognize him as “a choice man” in the Lord? Was Rufus introduced to people as the man whose father carried the cross for Christ?
Of course, we will never know the answer to those questions. But what we do know is that there was a man who may have been the same Rufus, and he was a Christian. He and his family were very helpful to Paul – so much so, that Paul even considered Rufus’ mother to be his own.
Simon taught his children, in a very literal sense, to do what Jesus told us all to do: deny yourself and take up your cross daily (Luke 9:23). Simon carried a literal cross once, but if we would be Jesus’ disciples, we must carry our spiritual crosses “daily.” What are we teaching our children? Will they see us carrying our cross daily? What kind of an impact will that have in their lives? Perhaps our efforts today will help send them on a path to being recorded in the book of life in the same way that Rufus is remembered forever – as those who are choice in the Lord.
The other day, I gave this article to the congregation in the Clover Notes section of our bulletin. I thought I would share it with others in this forum as well. Hope it helps us all to raise our zeal to the way it was at first!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day is said to be the most celebrated holiday around the world other than New Year’s Day. This week, as many people throughout the world give candy, flowers, or a romantic evening to their loved one, perhaps we should take a moment to consider our 1st love.
Jesus tells the church at Ephesus (Rev 2:4) that they have left their “first love.” The church at Ephesus had forgotten what was important. They were told to repent and do as they did at first. We don’t like it when loved ones lose the passion of a relationship, do we? Do you remember what things were like with your “Valentine” back in the day? Did you pay special attention? Did you make them feel special? Open the door? Buy flowers? Clean your car???
Of course, relationships change. Often, relationships which begin based on passion must develop into something more – a deep love and appreciation. But we cannot be in a healthy relationship that has no zeal for our partner. We should make every effort, even though relationships grow and mature, to have the zeal we had at first.
Even more than a Valentine, Jesus wants our love and our zeal. In short, Jesus wants our entire being to be dedicated to the Father. So as you spend time looking for a card, candy, or whatever, give some thought to your eternal relationship. Spend time this week with your true 1st love, Jesus Christ. And try to get back to the zeal you had for Him when you first gave your life over to God.
No doubt, you have seen the news: The pope is resigning. The headline from Reuters reads: “Pope Benedict stunned the Roman Catholic Church on Monday when he announced he would stand down, the first pope to do so in 700 years, saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to carry on.”
Some of my preaching brethren have used this difficult time for the Catholic religion to kick Catholicism, “while it is down.” And, to be fair, there are probably some lessons to be learned and some teaching that can be done. But let’s not forget an approach which is commanded by Christ: pray for others.
If you believe that certain Catholic teachings are contrary to the bible, then you have an obligation to pray for them and for their fallen leader – Matthew 5:44. This pope is exhausted! He lacks the “mental and physical strength to carry on.” I am not sure that the same people who are writing nasty Facebook and blog comments about his misfortune would walk into someone’s hospital room and say, “serves you right” (at least I hope not!)
Frankly, it is amazing that he, or any pope, can maintain their mental and physical strength in the role they have chosen. Think about it this way: the pope sits in a seat which is said to represent the throne of God, speaking ex cathedra (from the chair) with perfect inerrancy. He is alleged to be the head of the Catholic (meaning, “Universal”) church. I can’t imagine the mental and physical exhaustion it would put on a mere man to try to sit in the place of God.
The bible teaches that Jesus is the only one capable of sitting in that seat! [Ephesians 1:22 (God appointed); Ephesians 5:23 (the head); Colossians 1:18 (His body); Hebrews 8:1 (sat down at the right hand); Revelation 5:1,7 (on the throne)]. Unfortunately, a sad road of mental and physical exhaustion lies ahead for any man who would try to sit in Jesus’ throne. Why not rather let God be God and man be man. He has given us His holy word and His cleansing blood. Isn’t that enough? I pray that no man would try to take that on, and I pray for anyone who tries.
To put it plainly, there was a time when Moses couldn’t lead anyone out of a wet paper bag. He was an ineffective liberator. Yes, he tried…but failed spectacularly. You may be asking, “Is this the Moses who brought down the plagues on Egypt and destruction on Pharaoh’s household and freed a nation of slaves?” Well sort of…consider the following.
Exodus 2:11-12 tells us that Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, “one of his brethren,” and he “struck down the Egyptian.” In Acts 7:25, Stephen says that Moses “supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not.” Moses had to flee to the desert due to his failed deliverance. Again, in Numbers 20:8-12, Moses made such a mistake in leading God’s people that he himself was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. How is it that Moses could perform God’s amazing wonders at times, and yet fall so short at other times?
The fine line between successful leadership and failure is our willingness to follow the Lord’s direction. When Moses chose to liberate his brethren without a word from the Lord, it ended in trouble. But when God told him to liberate the people, it ended in miraculous freedom. When Moses chose to strike the rock in anger rather than speaking to it as God commanded, it ended in Moses not entering the Promised Land. But when he asked God to see the land, God granted his request – in his life (Deuteronomy 34:1-4) and eternally (Luke 9:28-36).
Today, we don’t speak with God the way Moses did, but our conversations are just as meaningful. When we act on our own will and try to liberate ourselves and others based on our own timelines and opinions, we fail just as Moses did. But if we will follow God’s word and God’s timing, we can be free and help free others from the bondage of sin. There is only one, true freedom from slavery today, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Whose will do you follow today – God’s or your own?