Stay true to your calling regardless of the circumstance.
(Inspired by Luke 14:27 – “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”)
The book of Luke paints a beautiful picture of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. I am amazed by the power of God at work through the miracles he performs, the compassion that he has for the lost and brokenhearted, and by his authoritative teaching that transforms and renews our minds. God sent his one and only son to die as a living sacrifice, so that we may have eternal life.
We deserve no such thing. Jesus was innocent.
He is so full of love.
Jesus was holy and blameless, the only human being free of sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Yet because God did not want us to perish, he sacrificed his very own son, that we might become righteous before God and dwell with him forever. This is the epicenter of our faith; the ultimate gift in which we cannot be grateful enough, neither can we fully comprehend it.
What profoundly stood out to me in this account of Jesus’ life though, was the walk to Jerusalem. The fact that he was perfectly aware of the outcome of that walk, and that he still chose to walk it, and that he had the courage and strength to finish it.
He knew that one of his very own disciples would betray him, (and loose his soul by doing so.) And that another disciple, a close friend of his, would turn his back on him; disowning him three times. He knew that he would be delivered over to the Gentiles. That he would be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. He knew that he would be flogged and killed. He knew.
But he kept walking.
That is my question.
For a people so underserving of such a gift. For a people enslaved to sin and slow to repent. For a people so greedy, so arrogant and so careless. If it were for his family, his friends or for someone else he cared about we could possibly grasp it. But for a people who rejected him, mocked him and mistreated him? It would take extraordinary strength and courage to take those steps towards Jerusalem.
What really moved me to tears and convicted my very core is Jesus’ character throughout the book of Luke. Try to imagine for just a second; willingly stepping into betrayal, hatred, public humiliation, and excruciating pain to the point of death.
Have you ever been cheated or betrayed, humiliated for standing up for something you know to be true, tortured both physically and emotionally, not accepted by someone you love dearly? We have all been pained in ways we thought we would never recover from because it hurt so much. Jesus went through all of the above at the very same time.
He carried it all at once.
But his character remained the same. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” His love towards the people did not alter. He did not shrink back in fear and despair. He chose to keep healing, to teach and to love. He did not let the frightening task at hand keep him from serving his Father in Heaven wholeheartedly. He remained faithful, compassionate, patient and loving although he knew no one that could relate to his pain. He had no one to encourage or to console him, yet he kept walking in truth and in love.
Too often I allow my circumstances define my willingness to serve God. I justify my slothfulness by feeling weary and burdened, although Christ has offered to take that yoke upon himself. I neglect my responsibilities as a follower of Christ when things aren’t working out perfectly for me. When I feel distressed or tired or wronged in some way or another. Bearing one’s cross and following Jesus in the good times is easy, but we cannot call ourselves true disciples if we do not bear our cross through the tough times. It is when a challenge arises or when pain is inflicted that our true character should shine forth in a Christ-like manner. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” I do not want to allow my circumstances or my emotions define my willingness to serve God any longer. I want to make conscious efforts to act in the opposite spirit when my fleshly desires are against the desires of God. I no longer want my emotions to steer my walk with the Lord. I want the fruits of the spirit to shine through me in times when I feel like acting in them the least.
Claudia J. Maniscalco (SBS Student 2012-2013)