April 10, 2015


Recently we celebrated the Christian Holy Week.  This week is a remembrance of the final week of the life of Jesus.  The events celebrated begin with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and end with a crucifixion and resurrection.  The story tells how Jesus went from from a crowd praising and celebrating Him (Luke 19:35-40) to a crowd calling for His violent death (Luke 23:18-24).

When Jesus began His ministry, the religious establishment of the time had twisted God's direction.  You see, Israel had been given God’s Law, it was perfect.  It taught the people about God and how to live in right relationship with Him and with each other.  During this period, a group of Jews called Pharisees were the religious establish of the day. They loved the Law.  The Pharisees were intent on following the law.  The were so focused on following the law they even made up their own rules to add to the Law!  The problem was that they totally missed the reasons behind it and therefore clearly mishandled God’s Law.  

Jesus spoke clear as to his feelings towards the religious leaders lack of true religion in Matthew 15:3-9(ESV) “He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Jesus was wholly devoted to the Father and His life and words exposed the pointless rules of men while raising the bar for the Law given to Israel. When Jesus began preaching, He challenged the man-made religious rules.  Although, these rules seemed as if they were the right things but totally miss God… for their focus was more on the rules than on the relationship. Jesus was all about living for the Father.  The reason upset establishment of the times is that He followed God with His whole heart, and the words He spoke and the actions He took reflected His total commitment.  

So many in the world today want to play by the rules on the outside, but inside, their hearts are far from God. Some want to follow God and live for Him, but we won’t let it show on the outside because of what others might think of us… they fear upsetting the status quo. Jesus calls us to a different kind of life. Listen to this passage from Mark 8:34-36 “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

After celebrating such a important holiday, let us heed the call of Jesus to take up our cross and follow Him… to upset the status quo and to impact the world.