Who Are You in This Story?
It was the final week of Jesus on earth.
The Son who had been sent from the Father to save all of mankind from their sin was now on the last leg of His earthly journey. Jesus was about to complete what He had come to accomplish.
He had been born of a virgin.
He had healed the sick and had raised the dead.
He had calmed storms and had multiplied meals.
He had taught us how to pray.
He had laughed … taught … cried … discipled … and had dug the very fabric of His heavenly heart into the rich soil of humanity.
He had been a friend.
He taught us all how to believe.
Jesus went about doing good. Day after day. In every way possible.
He confronted sin and pride.
He confronted injustice and religion.
He had gone to weddings and to funerals. He had accepted dinner invitations and had gone on boat trips with friends.
He threw money-changers out of the temple yet partied with tax-collectors.
And He loved. My! How that Man could love!!
He loved children and He loved prostitutes.
Jesus loved His band of brothers and He loved John the Baptist.
He loved lepers and short people and women with issues.
He loved the demon-possessed and starving widows.
He loved because He is Love. He knows of no other way to be.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God for God is love …
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” – I John 4:7-9
But there was yet more for Jesus to do. His task on earth was not yet complete.
It was time for Jesus to die.
Jesus went into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey and the crowds went wild. They cheered and threw their cloaks in front of him.
They waved palm branches and danced along the way. It was a ticker-tape parade in first-century style.
On that day … on the day that we now call “Palm Sunday” … Jesus was the talk of the town and there was a parade thrown in His honor.
These crowds, however, were fickle crowds. On Sunday they cheered … and on Friday they jeered.
During this momentous, horrible, tragic, yet triumphant week, Jesus was in need of some time with the Father. He went to a garden to pray. He took with him his closest earthly friends. Peter, James and John were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.
Jesus prayed and they fell asleep.
Jesus cried out to the Father and they snored.
Jesus sweat great drops of blood while they drooled.
Some friends, huh?
Not only did His three besties fall asleep at His greatest moment of human agony, but the rest of His friends were MIA as well.
His band of brothers was nowhere to be found on Friday. Matthew tells us that they all ran away.
“All of Jesus’ followers left Him and ran away.” – Matthew 26:56
I wonder if Matthew wrote those words slowly with tears running down his cheeks.
I wonder if Matthew argued with the Holy Spirit if this one particular detail should be included or not.
You see, Matthew wasn’t merely pointing his finger at others … he was indicting himself. No one stayed.
Matthew didn’t stay.
Although Judas had sold Jesus and Peter had denied Jesus, what Matthew knew was that no one in the entire group of 12 had stayed faithful to Jesus to the end.
“All of Jesus’ followers left Him and ran away.”
The band of brothers had become a bunch of cowards. Yellow bellies. Chickens.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.”– II Timothy 2:13
While everyone else ran and hid … Jesus remained true to the Father’s call and to His purpose.
Have you seen yourself in the story yet?
Do you cheer when others are in agreement but run and hide when the going gets rough?
Do you enter into worship on Sunday morning with the roaring crowd but then turn and walk away because you are disappointed with the way your life has turned out?
Do you intend to pray but fall asleep instead?
Do you justify your embarrassment when asked about your relationship with Jesus?
Those are the questions that we all must respond to during the week of Palm Sunday … of the Last Supper … of the Garden of Gethsemane … and of the Cross of Calvary.
Who are you in this story?
It’s a good question to ask … to ponder … to pray about … and to answer this week. And, if you don’t like what you discover, perhaps it is also a good week to bow in prayer and in repentance.
It is a good week to re-evaluate your words … your choices … and your motives.
It’s a good week to become who Jesus believes you to be … the object of His greatest affection and the reason why He came.
Jesus knows that you are so valuable … so extraordinary … and so precious … that He died for you.
Now … what will you do for Him?
Will you worship? Will you pray? Will you stay?
Thanks for listening to my heart this week.As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!