In Gal. 6:1,2 we learn that we "fulfill the law of Christ" when we restore a brother who was "overtaken in a trespass." This was not premeditated sin, but the sudden expression of temptation, lust and submission to weakness in one's life. In compassion, gentleness and introspection, the stronger Christian lifts his brother up form the torture and quagmire of error. Yes, "Bear ye one another's burden." Our failure to practice such loving deeds will cause precious souls to be lost.
The crescendo point in Gal. 6, however, is the famous utterance in verse 17: "I bear branded in my body the marks of Jesus." God told Israel, in Lev. 19:28, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am Jehovah." Yet in the middle of the first century millions of slaves were "branded" by their masters. Paul, in Gal. 6:17, was saying in essence, "It is evident by my life to whom I belong."
The word for "marks" in Greek is "stigmata" - which is the word from which we get "stigma." The apostle tells us that he was "a fool for Christ's sake" (1 Cor. 4:9-13). He refers to ardent servants of Jesus as a spectacle before the world and as filth and garbage to society. Being a Christian in the first century was neither popular nor prosperous. The overwhelming suffering of which our Lord spoke in Mk. 10 was a grave reality in the persecution poured out upon those early Christians.
Paul wrote of his own persecutions, "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorifying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:30,31). Once at Lystra, in the region of Galatia, that great servant of the Redeemer was stoned nearly to death. Paul literally bore in his body "the marks of Jesus." When men can tell that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), any struggle on the road to heaven will turn to joy.
By Johnny Ramsey in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 45, Nov. 10, 2006.
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