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Choose Jesus

March 19, 2018

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus . . .” (Philippians 2: 5)

On the first Sunday in Advent we remembered the crowd’s excitement over the prospect of the coming Messiah as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as predicted by Zechariah in the Fifth Century B. C.:[1]See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey . . . He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9: 9-10). [2]

The Passover crowd was delirious with joy, expecting Jesus to lead them to freedom from the Romans: “The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting ‘Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’” (John 12: 12-13).

But Jesus knew what his fate would be, and on their hike up to Jerusalem for Passover he had warned his disciples of what was to come.  A few days later, when they were in the upper room, Jesus reminded them that he would be betrayed: “’It is one of the Twelve,’ he replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born’” (Mark 14: 20-21).

Everything occurred as Jesus had predicted it would occur; he was betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, spit upon, flogged and killed: “[T[he Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him” Mark 10: 33-34.

The excited crowd who had welcomed him in the parade five days before, now turned against him, and shouted to Pilate: “Crucify him!” (Mark 15: 13, 14).   They didn’t understand that he had come to free them from their sins, not from the Romans.

Jesus not only knew what was coming—he engineered the events that led to his death: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 5-11).  Jesus wasn’t a victim of circumstance.  He wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was in charge of how the events played out that week—and during his whole ministry.

He knew that it was the Father’s plan for him to die on the cross for the sins of all.  He chose to come to earth as one of us.  He chose to move the events to his crucifixion.  He chose Jerusalem as the place of his death.  He chose the Passover festival as the time of his death when Jerusalem was packed with pilgrims.  He chose to give us the gift of his body and blood in the sacrament.  He chose to give us the gift of salvation.  He chose to leave his Spirit with us to help us.  These are a few of the choices he made to carry out God’s plan of salvation.  It wasn’t easy, but it was his choice to be obedient to the Father’s will.

Now it is your turn to choose.  Paul suggests that “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus . . .” (Philippians 2: 5).  Choose humility.  Choose obedience.  Choose love.  Choose forgiveness.

Choose Jesus.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] See Saved, published November 27, 2017.

[2] The Scripture texts for Palm Sunday are Zechariah 9: 9-12; Psalm 118: 19-29; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; John 12: 12-19; Mark 14: 1-15.

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