Call to Obedience
Today is the start of Holy Week. A week dedicated to the remembrance of those final days preceding the tomb and the resurrection of the Christ.
The final week begins. There are great cheers among the crowd and the celebration with the Palms. “Hosanna, Hosanna” rings out in the sky. No jumbotron urging the crowd to cheer for the home team; just spontaneous voices crying out to one another and God. Seemingly a realization that Jesus is in fact the Savior foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. The One from the line of David has arrived to be King.
From the Gospel of John, we read:
12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!"
Dear Church, the story is told to us through the New Testament that many of the same people crying out on the Sunday of the Palms reversed course and cried out wickedness just days later. A call to a wicked crucifixion.
Let me be perfectly clear. This Jesus was 100% righteous in comparison to me. Whereas I can’t seem to fight through the next hour without violating my God’s commands, this Jesus was 100% sin-free. Fully human and fully God. Tempted by sin. In a face-to-face battle with Satan Himself for eternal peace. Yet, crushing the head of the serpent in the end (so well depicted in the opening scene of Passion of the Christ). The eternal war has been won.
Did Jesus’s miracle healings, His teaching or His mesmerizing love stop the mob mentality from taking over? Would the eleven disciples still standing step in and demand a reversal of this behavior?
Peter, John, James?
Obedience anyone? Anyone?
Apostle John recounts the mob mentality before Roman Governor Pontius Pilate and corrupt religious leaders:
19: 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.
19: 15" ... they cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."
What can we make of this?
Here’s my thinking.
This original Holy Week highlights the very need for the Messiah. One who comes to be a sacrifice for sin once and for all through body and blood. One who turns the worst of humanity into a victory for Mankind and His Heavenly Father. Without the One, we are simply lost in our wicked ways. Eternally.
Remember that Jesus goes to the Cross on Friday (which we call Good) for Pilate, the corrupt religious leaders and for the crowd who cheered and then smeared His Name. All could still receive the eternal gift of salvation through repentance and devoting their lives to the very One they helped crucify.
All could still receive the eternal gift of salvation through repentance AND devoting their lives to the very One they helped crucify.
There is a keyword in that sentence: AND.
It is God who demands that we devote ourselves to Him. I’m much better at being devoted to myself, but then I sit in the crucify Him crowd once more. Look back and you will be reminded that the first four of the ten commandments delivered to Moses are not about how we should act toward humanity but how we should revere God. (See Exodus Chapter 20).
For me, Christianity comes down to one word: obedience. We either are or we aren’t obedient to Christ.
Obedience isn’t a call to perfection because LORD knows, the entire 66 books of the Bible scream of an imperfect set of men and women. Count me imperfect.
But what does obedience to Christ look like?
The answer for me lies in the conclusion to this question. Is my faith authentically at the center of my life OR am I simply a Palm Sunday-like Christian singing ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’ and Good Friday wicked otherwise?
Yikes. I know that’s extreme but it’s often that we Christians veer off the narrow road.
I am studying Jeremiah, a prophet of Old. A man charged by God to call out his people group to repent AND re-devote themselves to God Most High.
From Jeremiah Chapter 4:
1 "If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,
2 and if you swear, 'As the LORD lives,' in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory."
3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds."
From Rev. Philip Graham Ryken (President of Wheaton College) on this subject TODAY:
“The Lord is asking for a deep repentance, a much deeper repentance than we are used to giving, a true repentance that gets to the very root of sin and digs it out. He wants more than just prayers of repentance – He wants deeds of repentance. He wants more than just circumcised Israelites – He wants circumcised hearts. And He wants more than just baptized Christians – He wants baptized lives.”