It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
Rebellion…if you’ve ever tried to reason with a toddler why he can’t do something, only to see him do it…you’d think we were born defiant! Unfortunately, since that moment in the Garden of Eden, humans have been on a path of revolution and resistance against God. But where has our fierce independence gotten us? Separated far from God as He looks on with great sorrow at the abject wickedness and corruption of His creation. Rebellion is the road to hell…the time is now to turn from evil and embrace obedience and submission.
People have really good excuses why they don’t want anything to do with God. “Religion is only for the weak that need a crutch.” “I’ll get right with God when I get old and about to die…you know, like Fire Insurance…something you have just incase.” “I don’t believe any of that mumbo-jumbo Jesus garbage.” So when you’re confronted by this, what is the best answer? The Truth. You don’t need to defend God…He’s perfectly capable of defending Himself, thank you. You state the Truth in love, but neither do you water down the Truth to make it more palatable for all. The Truth is, if you forsake God, He’ll reject you…forever.
We find the disciples hunkered down, doors locked, fearing what might happen to them…when suddenly Jesus shows up! And during this short interaction these frightened men went from fainthearted to fearless. So what was it? It was the 3 “P”s. First it says that Jesus came and stood among them and showed them His hands and side. His presence was undisputable to them now…the Resurrection beyond doubt. Next was Jesus’s greeting, “Peace be with you!” This type of peace supersedes anything we can imagine…it is brought about by God’s infinite mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all distresses. Finally, Jesus breathed on them and they received the power of the Holy Spirit. His presence, peace and power turned a rag-tag group of men into a force to be reckoned with.
God is not hesitating out of uncertainty…it’s not from indecision either that He has held off judging the world. No, it’s because of the Lord’s long-suffering grace and mercy that He delays the Judgment Day. For in I Timothy 2:4 it tells us, “God our Savior, Who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Our Lord wants no one to perish, but all to come to the saving reality of Jesus Christ…but neither will God wait forever.
The words of desperation, grief, and discouragement are heavy…they weigh us down to the point we can hardly breathe. This oppressiveness is only compounded by impulsive, frantic actions as we search for answers. It doesn’t help either if we’re sleep deprived. Sometimes the very best thing you can pray for is peace and rest. When our minds and bodies are frenetic, balance and reason can go out the window. Asking the Lord for peace, hope, and sleep can bring us back into alignment.
I find it fascinating how people rationalize and marginalize their sins away. We’ll blame everyone else in order not to place the guilt where it belongs…on ourselves. “The devil made me do it!” doesn’t stand up well in light of such scriptures as Hebrews 4:15 which states that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Taking ownership of our sins is the first step to getting right with God…as is conceding that a sin is a sin – there is no scale from 1-10 of severity of sins…so there’s no difference between a “little white lie” and a serious sin…both are missing the mark.
I used to be a long distance runner…and during those hours on the back roads, I’d yell at God. At the time, I was in the middle of a very personal hell and wanted God to know just how scared and powerless I felt. In my head, I knew the Lord was well aware of the situation…but in my heart, I needed to verbalize the pain. Baring my soul out loud to God was a way I could express feelings I had never spoken to anyone…no one. Putting words to pent-up fear and terror helped me gain perspective. By listening to my own words of anguish, my plight was somehow validated within me. Yes, I yelled at God, but He quietly listened to every word I spilled out…every inner most feelings I couldn’t tell anyone else. For God was there and He listened…He didn’t judge or admonish…He listened.
The crowds were getting larger and larger that followed Jesus and His disciples. In these verses, many have crammed themselves into a private home to hear Jesus teach. No wonder Jesus’ family sent word into the house they were outside wanting to see Him…there was no way they could get into the packed house! When Jesus asked this question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He wasn’t showing disrespect, but rather saw it as a teachable moment. The story goes on in verses 34-35, ” Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s Will is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus wanted the crowd huddled around Him to see that they were just as highly regarded to Him as part of “The Family of God” as His own kin were.
So what exactly is “the Way” and holiness mean to you? Is it being committed to the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind? Is it a way of life that exemplifies Godly actions and behaviors? The Way is a Highway…a road less traveled by most, but a life-long journey for the upright.