Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” is the epitome of arrogance. However, he is not the only one who boasts of refusing to kneel but doing life his own way.
Take Adam, for example. God said “Don’t.” But he did—did it his way. And the world came crashing down on him. Paradise lost, pain begun. A life of hard work, sorrow, bereavement, and death.
And then there’s King Saul. God said “Wait,” but he did it his way and offered the sacrifice he wasn’t entitled to perform. Again, God said “wipe out the wicked Amalekites and all their possessions.” But Saul did it his way, (1 Samuel 15) figuring he knew better than God. That cost him his kingdom. From there on, he was a paranoid shell of a man until he committed suicide.
Judas made a pretense of following Jesus but did it his way, helping himself to the contents of the group’s purse that he carried. And when the opportunity came, he chose to make a name for himself by betraying the Innocent Man and Son of God to death. What did it get him? A crushing weight of guilt that drove him to suicide.
What’s the alternative ? Psalm 1 paints a stark contrast between doing life “my way” or God’s way:
1 Blessed is the person who does not
follow the advice of wicked people,
take the path of sinners,
or join the company of mockers.
2 Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD
and reflects on his teachings day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams—
a tree that produces fruit in season
and whose leaves do not wither.
He succeeds in everything he does.
4 Wicked people are not like that.
Instead, they are like husks that the wind blows away.
5 That is why wicked people will not be able to stand in the judgment
and sinners will not be able to stand where righteous people gather.
6 The LORD knows the way of righteous people,
but the way of wicked people will end.
For three years people had had opportunity to to be exposed to Jesus’ life, teaching and miracles. Now the end was near (though they didn’t know that). The battle lines were being drawn, becoming more distinct—or did some become more fuzzy? Here’s how some of them lined up, including a few surprises.
For Against Undecided
Religious leaders √
Mary of Bethany √
Joseph of Arimathea √
Jewish crowds √ √ For Him on Sunday
but against Him on Thursday
11 disciples Like deer in the headlights!
What about you? In which column would your name appear, really?
Especially when identifying with Jesus is unpopular and even dangerous?
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.…”–Jesus (Matthew 10:32-33)
When Mary poured a fortune in perfume over Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3-10), she was simply expressing her profound love for Him in the best way she could think of. She had no idea of the all implications of what she did:
–Jesus considered it as preparation for His burial which, unbeknownst to her, would happen in just a few days.
–Jesus promised that she would become world-famous for her loving deed. And it’s true–it’s in our Bible for all to read.
–This act, and Jesus’ positive response to it, prompted Judas to instigate his treachery which would lead to Jesus’ death. (Of course, this was God’s plan from ages past.)
I wonder what will result from the things I do for Jesus? Will I have some surprises in heaven?
[God] uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. (2 Corinthians 2:14b-16a)
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Jesus’ disciples were bewildered and confused. After all that their Messiah had gone through (including suffering and death which they certainly hadn’t expected), surely there need be no more delay for the long-awaited Kingdom that Jesus had been talking so much about–right? (See Acts 1:3 & following.)
Finally they just had to ask outright: “Are you going to set up the Kingdom now and be our King?”
Jesus: You’re not being copied on the details, but I have an assignment for you: You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Then He takes off!
Still bewildered, they gaze into the sky until He disappears from their sight and an angel assures them that Jesus will be back. Still, though, they weren’t told when!
Why the delay? As the disciples obeyed orders, God’s wonderful plan unfolded in a way they had never really understood before. It was time for the world to hear and be included in God’s kingdom—including Gentiles like me! (By the way, Judas couldn’t wait, accept, and obey. When the Kingdom didn’t materialize on his schedule, he became disillusioned and—well, we know that story….)
Living with ambiguity isn’t easy for me. I want to know what’s going to happen and when, and what my part is in it. I have much to learn from these first believers: waiting, trusting, obeying one step at a time. Still, as I watch and wait and work on my “assignments,” my heart cry is… “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
In Matthew 26 we read a story of a famous person and an infamous person.
Mary, who valued Jesus above her highest treasure, poured it all out on his head.
Judas, who disdained Jesus as worthless, not only censured Mary but also sold Jesus for a pittance.
Both of these have gone down in history—she in honor; he in infamy.
“What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be…”
[Albert B. Simpson]