Lord help me keep my commitment
Last week I wrote a piece about the triumphant entry of Christ to the City of Jerusalem, I titled my message as “Jesus the King.” I managed to unveil how in many ways Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was beyond doubt of a king. However, unlike what other kings might have done to have come to Jerusalem on war chariots, Jesus, whose kingdom is not of the temporal, chose to ride on a colt, a donkey, he is a meek king, a heavenly king not an earthly king.
The last week of Jesus’ earthly life, also called the Holy Week in the Christian tradition culminated into Jesus’ death on the cross, the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin, was an atonement for the entire world. However, we have to accept this sacrifice if we are to be forgiven of our sins and accepted into the Kingdom of God. Today, this Thursday of the Holy Week is often called the Maundy Thursday, a day when Jesus passionately prays in the garden of Gethsemane after the last super and just before his arrest. It is also the day when the disciples deserted him starting with Judas Iscariot who master minded his arrest to all the others with only Peter who tried to follow from a distance but who later denied three times knowing Jesus. There is need for us to pledge an allegiance to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
It was a busy day that people were preparing for the Passover celebrations in three days and also the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. This was an instruction Moses gave to the Hebrews in Egypt as they prepared for their exodus to the promised land. They were to remember this day and so Jesus, born of a Jew had to observe this day, to which he later gave a new meaning. He commissioned the feast of the Lord’s super or the Eucharist on this fateful day with the unleavened bread and the wine signifying his body and blood which is offered for the sin of the world and told his disciples to do this as often as possible in remembrance of him. So after super, they had sung a hymn and retreated to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus, knowing what was ahead of him, in the wee hours of the night, withdraw to a lone place to pray having told his disciples to do the same (to pray). The next few hours were going to be a hard moment for Jesus, for he was human too, having flesh and blood, troubled in his soul, he prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” I don’t know and perhaps will never know like the disciples how it felt to Jesus having known that indeed he would be executed in a couple of hours. You can follow this story from your bible, well recorded in all the four gospels. This is a portion in the scriptures that always moves me to shedding tears whenever I read it, yet Jesus had to go through it for the sake of humanity, that we can be saved. For now, let me turn to following Jesus with a commitment, an allegiance pledged to the Lamb of God.
No sooner had Jesus retreated to pray for the second time and returned to the disciples than, Judas, who should have been among the twelve arrived with a garrison of armed men ready to hand over Jesus to them for thirty silver coins. The hour at which darkness reigns had come, only for a will, but in a powerful manner. As Jesus restrained his disciples from striking, he handed himself to the men who came to arrest him. As it was written, strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered, all the disciples went their way safe for only one, Peter, who courageously followed from a distance up to the courtyard where they had taken Jesus. Peter had earlier vowed never to leave Jesus even if it meant death, he tries to follow his vow but will he make it? No, as Jesus had predicted earlier that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crow, indeed Peter being asked about his knowledge of Christ three times said, “I don’t know him.” He denied Christ three times.
It is important to note that although Peter denied Christ three times, unlike the other disciples who ran away, Peter tried his best to remain true to his commitment to Christ. We cannot remain true to this commitment unless Christ himself through the Holy Spirit enables us to. However, we have to make the commitment, and surrendering to him (Christ), let him take over; for he promised that those whom the Father has given him will never be snatched out of his hands. In our weakness comes his strength, in our foolishness comes his wisdom. The Women of Faith sung, “when I am weak, I know I am strong,” yes, we are not and shall never be strong enough in the flesh. Only in Christ lies our strength and even the strength to keep committed to him.
As we remember his death on the cross in this season and celebrate his resurrection on Easter day, I would like to make it categorically clear that Christ died on the cross to reconcile us to God. God did his part in Christ, and you are obliged to do yours, which is responding to God’s initiative of reconciling us to God. Will you today, by faith respond to him (Christ), and accept his perfect sacrifice on the cross for your sin? John the Baptist said of him, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29), and I say, behold him hanging on the cross, saying “I did this for you.” Turn to Christ, accept him and become a child of God (John 1:12), reconciled to God in Christ. And make an allegiance to follow him, with all your heart, with all your strength, with all you are, for Christ alone. May this dogma of Easter make you see God’s love for you and God’s power to make you a new creation.
Happy Easter. God Påske.
Julius Izza Tabi.