As we head towards the death of Jesus this week, and his subsequent Resurrection, I can’t help but think of the things that led to Jesus’ death. Yes, Jesus’ death was not only part of God’s divine plan, with the details painstakingly revealed in Scripture for centuries. What I want us to reflect on today is how God chose Jesus’ death to occur. It did not occur in a vacuum, but happened in a very specific way we can learn a lot from. Jesus was killed because he upset the teachings, positions, and preferences of the religious leaders of his day. He teaches were firmly rooted in scripture, but many scriptures had not been lived out by the religious leadership. Specifically, Jesus called out the fact that what they preached was often true, but how they lived their lives was far from God’s plan. Check out his rebuke to them, as well as his instructions:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:2-12
There is a lot to touch on here, but lets look at two key points.
- Read, speak, and do God’s Word: Jesus is making the point that we have to read God’s Word, teach and share it, and live it out. If I’m honest with myself, I often struggle to live out this “trifecta.” There are times where I’m good at reading and speaking, but my daily life does not exactly exalt God. Other times I’m an ok servant, but I don’t really engage in God’s Word. Its not enough to just be doing one or two of these. We need to strive to strive to live out all three.
- Humility matters: There is not a better example of humility then Jesus. God CHOOSES to take on our flesh (whose various frailties and ailments we incessantly complain about) to not only be with us, but to DIE FOR US. As God humbled himself to serve us we are called to humbly serve others. Honestly, this is a pretty uncomplicated teaching when you really think about it. We not called to tackle a list of 4,596 things for God. We are simply asked to serve others in the way God modeled humility and service to us. Is that hard? Absolutely! But was it hard to give up heaven for death on a cross? We need to all start approaching all of life with an attitude of humility and a heart for service, just as Jesus so powerfully did for us.