Christianity isn't built on principles, a philosophy or practices, although it contains those elements. The uniqueness of Christianity rests on the cross and Christ’s triumph over death. We need to be reminded of this lest we lapse into believing faith in Jesus is just another self-improvement program. Lest we are lulled into a lethargic view of believing Jesus. To be sure, it's much more. This week we take a break from our journey though the Book of Acts to contemplate on Jesus’ death, resurrection and the events leading to it. If these Devos challenge you, speak to you or stir you, feel free to repost them or pass them on to others.
". . . they will condemn him to death, " Matthew 20:18
Two days before Passover, the chief priests and scribes conspired to kill Jesus. The festival crowd was close to three million people. The religious leaders feared that a public arrest of Jesus would cause a riot in the city, so they planned to have it done secretly. Deception always finds a home in the dark places of men's hearts.
As hard as it is to face, these verses are about the state of our dirty-dealing, double-crossing heart. Matthew mentions the chief priest and the Gentiles, but it's really about us.
It's in the pitch darkness of each person’s heart that sin and rebellion lurk. Like the religious leaders who feared the masses, we fear the crowd – what they think of us, whether they like us or not. Our heart plots ways to find acceptance from others without having to risk ourselves, or reveal our true motives.
Jesus was too raw, too real for the scribes. His unconditional love towards others scared them. His genuineness with others and compassion toward the hurting made them nervous and self-conscious. They wanted to get rid of Him. Oh, how our hearts are experts at plotting ways to marginalize Jesus. We feel the pressure of His honesty, and find ourselves pushing Him away.
No matter how nice and neat we consider ourselves to be, or how self-impressed with our own goodness, regardless of how respectable we appear to others, we all have it within us to betray Jesus. It could have been us tying His hands behind His back and hauling Him off to jail. We could have been the ones who whipped and spat on Him, or laughed at Him, and even showed full-hearted hatred towards Him.
In order for Him to become the final sacrifice, someone would have had to kill Him. And that someone could have been you or me. Yes! You. Stare into your grimy, scheming heart, swallow hard, own it and admit, you could have killed Jesus.
Scripture places the blame on us all for the death of Jesus. May the love of God break fully into the ill-lit recesses of our hearts.