Obedience, Trials and Tribulations – 3
Scripture References – Isaiah 50:4-9; Luke 19:28-40
It is clear that there is one reason for the Servant’s suffering—because he is an obedient servant of God. That’s also the only reason Jesus suffered, isn’t it? In our Old Testament lesson, in the testimony of the Suffering Servant, there are a number of truths through confession which tell us a good deal about the suffering of God’s people—even this select one among all God’s children.
The Suffering Servant does not look for suffering, but he does not run from it as if suffering is beneath him or not his lot. He is brave enough to face it. There are reasons for his bravery. In the midst of the suffering, he does not make the most common mistake of all, which is turning away from God in trying times. By continuing to cling to God in his trials, in his suffering, the Servant of the Lord has strength because of God’s nearness and also because of the understanding that comes in spite of crisis. This is not to suggest that there are good reasons for the suffering of God’s people. Understanding does not imply this. There are reasons that God’s people suffer, but they are not usually good reasons. This realization is itself a part of the understanding which comes to suffering people like you and me who decide to continue clinging to God in spite of the pain which we are certain we don’t deserve.
The basis of suffering is action. Living as a child of God is a life chock-full of challenging tasks and risks. It is anything but a life of genteel passivity. Yes, to be God’s people we have to act. Being Christian means involvement in causes and lives not at the top of the preferred list. What kind of motley crew would Jesus die for? Being Christian means doing. There is suffering for God’s obedient children because we are willing to act and try to do the right thing, according to God’s will in a world that, to say the least, isn’t particularly attune to God’s concerns.
There is suffering for God’s obedient children because serving God is a matter of faith, and faith means that there are moments when we must act and launch out to try to do good without all the information we might have desired. Indeed, faith is a particular kind of risk. On the paths of faith, there is suffering for God’s obedient children because God’s people finally become committed to serving God above all else; consequences become secondary considerations. It had to be that way for Jesus. He could not have focused on the likelihood of His death, or He would never have entered Jerusalem when He did. However, the timing was right; he went at Passover when many of the Israelites were gathered together to think about the great God of deliverance and liberation. This was the best opportunity to tell—in a way that only He had or could ever tell—of the extravagance of God’s love. Instead, Jesus focused on His task, His opportunity to be the Servant of God. He did not go into Jerusalem like an abused pup expecting every move to be a beating; He rode into Jerusalem like a King! And without saying a word, people knew it. They threw their coats on the ground to make a path for someone with the bearings of royalty, and without prompting they began to yell out: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” – Luke 19:38.
The Pharisees were repulsed, and they insisted that He rebuke those who went so far as to associate Him with the Lord God, but Jesus said: “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” – Luke 19:40. The one who had suffered for God and the one who was going to suffer more than He may have known, still could hold His head high in obedience—not in pride, but in obedience. People knew that He was God’s Son. Everything about Him proclaimed it.
So, my dearest sisters and brothers, in this community of suffering, fight on in your obedience to God—not fighting to destroy your enemies, fighting only for the privilege of obedience and honor of being called God’s servant; whatever the consequences may be.
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