We always think of “giving up” something for Lent. Some people give up meat, or sweets, or alcohol, or television.
One friend asked another what she was giving up for Lent, and received the following answer: “Anne’s giving up drinking, Terri’s giving up chocolate, and I’m just giving up.”
Ever feel like that? “Just giving up”?
“Just give up” was the Pharisee’s advice to Jesus in today’s Gospel text. Herod is after you. He wants to kill you. Run away, quick! Give up your mission!
When Jesus heard this warning, He surprised those Pharisees by both ignoring and embracing their message. Jesus dismissed the threat of Herod—he is nothing but a “sly fox,”—plotting but powerless against God’s mission in the world. Jesus had His own schedule, His own agenda, His own mission to fulfill, and the time frame had already been set by the Father.
Boldness is necessary to accomplish redemptive purposes. Jesus was boldly assertive and wanted there to be no doubt about what His Father had sent Him to accomplish. Here’s both a lesson and a model for us—Jesus is set on finishing His work or ministry. Are we set on finishing ours? When we come into a right relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, our calling to redemptive work begins to unfold.
How much goes unaccomplished because we simply are not bold! There is no good reason to complicate the matter. We serve a risen Lord whose forthrightness always challenges.
A word of caution: we need to be very careful differentiating between our Lord's dictates and our personal, questionable agendas. Human nature can tell us to call down fire from heaven on most anyone who disagrees with us!
Further, Jesus embraced the message of the Pharisees by asserting that He will indeed give up—He will give himself up. He will travel to Jerusalem and continue in the sad tradition of that city alluded to in the phrase—“Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it” (v.34). Jesus will give up everything, His very life, in order to fulfill His eternal mission of salvation.
“Oh, Jerusalem!”—if Jesus was filled with compassion for them, how dare we fail in sharing His heart for a lost world. Amen.
Lenten Reader 2018
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