paul m hanssen
A LITTLE FURTHER - by Gwen Hanssen
“A LITTLE FURTHER” - by Gwen Hanssen
In the Word of God, we are given many examples of those who have “gone a little further”, who have pressed in and have pressed on past the norm. Jesus, Himself, is one such example of having pressed deeper in order to do His Father’s Will.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
It’s hard to fathom that before Jesus, the Son of God, could give Himself to be crucified, He was required to “go a little further” in His pursuit of doing the Father’s Will. Imagine that! Even the spotless Lamb of God was required to “go a little further” than the rest as He fell on His face and prayed for His Father’s Will to be done, rather than His own. Since Jesus was required to go a little further to do the Father’s Will, then shouldn’t we also be pressing on a little further than the religious crowds of the day if or since we profess to walk in the footsteps of Jesus?
As I contemplate this principle of “going a little further” there are three other examples in the Word that come to mind:
1) Blind Bartimaeus pressed on and went “a little further” as he pressed past the religious crowds of the day who were attempting to shut him down as he cried, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-52) In spite of his blind condition, he “went a little further”.
2) In Mark 2: 1-5, we read about the four who pressed past others in order to break open the roof in the house where Jesus was teaching so that they could lower the paralyzed man down to Him. They “went a little further”.
3) In Luke 8:43-48, the woman with the issue of blood went “a little further” as she pressed through the throng just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
The Word is full of plenty of examples of “going a little further”. Even the Apostle Paul said that ‘he pressed towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14). There is a requirement in pressing toward the high calling - we must “go a little further”. If the Apostle Paul needed to press, then how much more do I need to? Undoubtedly, I am miles behind him in my spiritual journey, and yet he felt the need to press - to “go a little further”.
There is one final and very powerful example, that I would like to give concerning one of Jesus’ followers “going a little further”. This example comes from a historical account given in “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” Andrew (Peter’s brother), was one of the twelve disciples, but was not mentioned a great deal in scripture. However, history says that after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Andrew preached about Jesus in various parts of Greece to any and all who would listen. He made ‘the powers that be’ angry because he was so bold, unashamed and unafraid. So much so that the governor instructed him to immediately stop teaching and preaching these things, otherwise he would be fastened to a cross himself. Andrew simply replied, “I would not preach the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross.” Because of his response, the sentence of death was pronounced, and Andrew was taken away to be crucified. Andrew never flinched, even though history says that most who were to be crucified lost their minds from fear or would frequently faint at the mere sight of the cross.
Instead, out of his deep love for Jesus, he spoke these astoundingly powerful words:
“O cross!” he declared, “O cross most welcome and long anticipated! I come to you with a willing mind, with joy and desire. Since I am a follower and a student of the One who died on you, I have always loved you and sought to embrace you.”
What a powerful example Andrew’s life was as he “went a little further” to fervently embrace walking in the footsteps of Jesus. He did this because of the deep love he had for our Redeemer. He, no doubt, had laid hold of a clear, unwavering understanding that going to the cross was not a dreadful tribulation, but was rather joyous and desirous. What a revelation!
As we learn from the allegories given to us through the examples of our forefathers in the Faith, let’s press on and “go a little further”. “Going a little further” means pressing on with an understanding that my flesh must needs die on the cross in order to carry the weight of His Glory and be all that He has called me to be. Let’s pray for the Grace of God that will empower us to “go a little further” as we seek to do His highest Will; not because of a fear of “not making it” or because we think that we are better than anyone else, but because of an intense love and desire to give of ourselves to our Bridegroom, Jesus. It truly is all about love.
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
-Gwen D Hanssen