Saturday, November 26, 2005

Killing Jesus

John 11:47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.
48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation."
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all;
50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish."

Good question--What are we to do with Jesus? Should we let Him keep on performing miracles and drawing people to Himself? Should we let Him keep on doing His transforming work in our lives? Should we let Him continue to make us uncomfortable, guilty, and ashamed of ourselves? Should we let Him take the fun out of our lives? Should we continue to let Him tell us what to do and what not to do? Should we let Him destroy our social lives? Should we allow Him to destroy our reputations and interfere in our careers? Should we allow Him to mess up our families and relationships? Should we allow Him to interfere in our spiritual lives? In short, should we continue to allow Him free reign in our lives?

Or should we do something about this? After all, isn't this getting a little out of hand? What will people say? It was fun at the start, but now He's getting a little too pushy, don't you think? What gives him the right to tell me what I can do and what I can't? Who is he to tell me what to wear or what kind of music to listen to? Who does he think he is, anyway? And besides, what will my friends at church think of me? Suppose they start to call me "goody-two-shoes" or something like that? Suppose they think I'm "holier-than-thou"? Or even worse, suppose they start leaving me out of things because I'm "too good for them"? Or what about my friends at school? Suppose they think I'm ignorant or stupid or something? Suppose they think I'm a fanatic? Or the guys at work? Suppose they start calling me names, or making cruel jokes about me behind my back?

I know God has been working real miracles in my life lately. But what if I'm right that this is going too far to ask that of me? Suppose He starts to ask me to do all kinds of weird things, like going to Africa or something? Or--oh horrors!!--suppose He wants me to witness to my friends? What will I do then? I can't do that! I can never do that! Why, they would think I'm crazy! That would destroy all my friendships!

I know Who you are, Jesus, but I just can't do what you're asking me to do. It would make me much too uncomfortable. It would destroy the peace and order in my life. It would take away all my friends, and even family. It would destroy my religious and spiritual life, really it would. You are just asking way too much. There is no other way out. It's the only thing left to do, if I am to be comfortable and safe in my life. I will have to kill you, Jesus.

The above scenario went through my mind after I read this passage. It's easy for us to condemn the chief priests and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and blindness. We can easily recognize their malice, pride, and jealousy. But how easily do we recognize the same sins in ourselves? We tend to think that we no longer have the option of killing Jesus, but the truth is that we face that choice probably daily.

Either we are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), or we are crucifying Him by our choices and decisions. We either mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13) or crucify to ourselves the Son of God afresh (Hebrews 6:6).

There is a song that asks "Is There Blood Upon Your Hands?", and reminds us that "by the very acts you do, you can crucify Him too." It was our sin that put Jesus on the cross, whether that sin was 20 years ago or within the last hour. We can, and do, kill Jesus.

We do so by choosing self and sin, or even ease and comfort, above Christ. Our souls are kingdoms with only one throne. Either "I" am on the throne, or Christ is. No man can serve two masters. When we become Christians, we put Christ on the throne. As King, He demands unconditional surrender and full and complete obedience. But He also gives us free choice. We can obey Him and kill ourselves, or disobey Him and usurp the throne by killing Him, removing Him from our lives. The choice is ours.

This choice also involves a paradox, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." (Luke 9:24) The Jews thought that by killing Jesus they would save themselves, the Temple, and the nation from the Romans. They died in their sins, the Romans completely destroyed their Temple, and their nation was also destroyed. Those who try to preserve their comfort and pleasure by killing Jesus will lose both comfort and pleasure in the eternal fires of hell. At the same time, the One they killed is still alive, and is King of kings and Lord of all. In the same way, those who choose to crucify themselves will live forever, reigning with Him.

So the question now is, what will you--and are you--doing with Jesus? Are you "killing" Him to save yourself? Or are you "killing" self to live for Him?

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