Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was planned. Jesus intended for people to see Him as a King who came in peace, as a fulfillment of the covenant promises of God. Yet, Jesus was not exactly the kind of king the people expected. He claimed creation would cry out with injustice if the people didn't celebrate Him as the King, yet He wasn't coming to destroy the Roman occupiers. He came and wept over Jerusalem knowing how many were going to reject Him as their true King and the cost they would pay because of it. Not the kind of Messiah they expected at all.
The early church devoted themselves to a set of basic practices that helped them fulfill Jesus' Great Commission and Great Commandment. While we live in a different culture and can't do things exactly as the early church did, we can still engage in the same practices, the first in our series being devotion to the teaching of the apostles. To apprentice ourselves to Jesus requires we know His teaching.
Knowing our identity in Christ and personal vision from God isn’t enough to see these made manifest in our lives. It also requires our taking steps to live these out. Good intentions will not get us to the positive destinations we want in our life. Following Jesus requires effort on our part to turn our intentions into steps that will lead us in the direction of His Kingdom.
O Holy Night was a favourite Christmas song by the abolitionist movement because of it’s 3rd verse speaking of God’s command to love and God’s heart to break the chains of the oppressed. This theme resonates with Mary’s song found in Luke 1. Mary saw God was at work on not only her behalf, but for all people oppressed by others. With the announcement of the Messiah being born, Mary saw God as faithful Saviour.
God’s grace shows clearly when we see it given to those who no one else would choose to love or invite into relationship. No one would have expected God to choose a pagan woman to be great-grandmother to Israel’s greatest king, nor that king be a murderer and adulterer and still called a man after God’s own heart. Both Ruth and David had the quality of humility and so accepted God’s invitation to relationship. We see in these two individuals that God’s love looks to hunt us down so we will see and invite Him to be the hero of our story too.
Greed is the assumption that what we have is for our consumption. Greed believes the lie that we owe it to ourselves to make sure we have the kind of lifestyle we want to have. Greed results in the refusal to bless others with the extra that God has given us, whether that in with money, time, skill, possessions or any other resource we have been blessed with. While as Christians we say and believe that God is the owner and we are stewards, greed moves us to live differently. Generosity is the antidote to greed in our hearts, freeing us to love God and others as our hearts have been made to do.
Part of the journey of finding freedom is making amends with those we have wronged. This is a key aspect of the biblical practice and command of repentance. Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus’ response are a great example of what repentance looks like and how God responds to repentance.
After we surrender ourselves to the idea that there is a God, and we are not God, we need to take the step of committing ourselves to living a surrendered life. What does commitment look like, and what kind of commitment is needed. We look at the example of Elisha and the words of Jesus about what commitment to surrendering to Jesus looks like.
In our culture it is possible to be a Christian without being a disciple. Disciples are those who seek to discipline themselves to be like Jesus. This requires right information, reflected upon, then put into practice. Only then will we see the Holy Spirit working to transform us to be like Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we are called to train ourselves, not just listen to his teaching.