How many of us have had our lives go exactly as we planned them to go? I would venture to guess very few. I know that my dreams from just a young child were to be a cartoonist or comic book artist. God, of course, had other plans. It’s intriguing to me how often we struggle with the turns that life takes, wondering why God doesn’t change things. We can look at this broken world of wars and crimes and disease and wonder if God really has a plan at all. Then I look at the cross – and I’m reminded that God’s plans don’t always look the way I would assume they should. I remember how much beauty can actually emerge from the depth of suffering. How much hope can be found in the presence of sacrificial love.
This Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 26:1-16 – entering the final stages of the gospel drama.
The story begins with Jesus giving one of his clearest predictions of his upcoming death so far. He even indicates when it will be taking place. What does that tell us about the nature of Christ’s death? Was it an accident? Was he pushed into a corner where he couldn’t escape? What does his foreknowledge reveal about his mission?
In contrast, look at the religious leaders conspiring to have him murdered. They considered themselves representatives of God; doing God’s work. Look at what morals, values and commands they were willing to throw aside in order to keep their place of political power. What contrast do you see between Jesus’ willingness to die and their schemes? How does our present day, Evangelical church measure up when compared to the cross?
The woman who brings the perfumed oil and pours it on Jesus (weird thing to do…but I’ll explain it a bit on Sunday) is commended by Him. He described it as anointing him for burial, tying this act to His upcoming sacrificial death. If we look at her example, what would we say the cross of Jesus can inspire in our lives? What do you think Jesus meant by indicating her actions would be remembered when the Good News is shared?
What question does Judas ask? How does that contrast with Jesus’ cross and the woman’s sacrificial devotion? If we’re not challenged by this, we’re not thinking it through. The cross exposes something here in Judas. What are our motives for following Jesus? If it cost us everything, would we still be faithful? How can the cross reshape our values and form us into better people?
Hope to see you Sunday! Surf-N-Grill is supposed to be happening – but the weather just doesn’t seem cooperative with our plans (with a nod to my opening paragraph). Let’s hope for some clearer skies!