There is a group of arranged letters that has proven to be the most divisive in every language that it has ever been translated into. This grouping has caused more separation or strife among people than any other word or name in the history of languages.
Why would this be? Two thousand years after he walked this earth, the biggest controversy of every generation since that time has been whether or not Jesus is who he claimed to be, the Son of God himself, and actually One with God. It’s lunacy, right? How could this still be talked about?
Why do people rise up in angry protest when that name is mentioned in public? Why is there such a large effort to keep this name from being mentioned at all in our schools, courtrooms, or any other public meeting places, even in our streets? Why, when I was silently reading from a Bible in a bagel place did I get a look from people like I am reading from a terrorist handbook(true story)? Why are people afraid of, or resentful of, the people who believe Jesus’ story? Or… why are they afraid of Jesus himself?
Sadly, I fear the answer is that they are afraid his story could be true. Sad, because it means people are making a choice about Jesus without understanding his purpose. Should a drowning man be afraid of a lifeline being thrown from a boat? Grab the rope! Nobody is going to pull it away if you reach. Maybe people have let you down, maybe for your whole life, but God will not. The lifeline is there, and that boat will take you where you want to go, even if you don’t know where you want to go yet.
This isn’t just good news; It is incredible news, news that dwarfs all other. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how many times you have rejected this news in the past. Truth won’t go away, if it is true. God will not stop hoping for you.
Back to the Gospel story. If you missed the first post of “The Stumbling Block”. I encourage you to read it before going on from here, but it is not essential.
His disciples didn’t understand but Jesus was walking toward something all along. His primary purpose was not to tell people of God’s love but prove God’s love to us by fixing our biggest problem, our separation from Him.
Without a thorough study of the history of that region and time, it is difficult to understand the moods of the people. I have already told you of the adoring crowds trying to follow Jesus everywhere he went. But, it was a violent time, the crowds were fickle and could turn on a dime, and there was a group who knew how to play the crowds and use them, the Pharisees.
The Pharisees authority and influence over the masses was significant despite the fact that Israel was occupied by the mighty Roman Empire. The Romans used whatever they could to keep the people from rebelling, including the Pharisees.
For some time Jesus had been avoiding the city of Jerusalem because there had been more than one attempt to kill him. But, as Passover(the biggest Jewish holiday) neared and tens of thousands, some say hundreds of thousands of people, swarmed on Jerusalem for the weeklong festival–Jesus went there as well, along with his incredulous disciples. They didn’t understand completely, but Jesus had made it clear that he was going there to be killed.
We have been in this series for seven and a half posts, so let’s not miss this, or gloss over it. Jesus’ purpose for going to Jerusalem was to die. He knew what was coming and went anyway, not in spite of what was coming, but because of it.
But, even though he went willingly, on purpose, don’t think that Jesus was okay with it. The Bible is clear, he wanted out. He prayed repeatedly for God to take away the coming trial. He was in such a state of anguish, and, dare I say it–fear, that he was sweating blood. Even so, his prayers closed with the words, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”, and he meant it.
Does that sound like weakness to you? Okay Father, if that’s what you want me to do, I will do it. I can see how it could, until you realize the horror of what Jesus was facing. What could be sooooo important to both God the Father and Jesus the Son that they would allow wicked men to control Jesus’ earthly fate?
You know the answer.
Stay tuned anyway. A.J.