It’s often said that if there are 10,000 steps between us and God, He will take 9,999 and leave one to us. We’ve spent 40 days allowing Him to move deeper into our hearts, souls, minds and efforts, and during Holy Week, we will respond by taking 1 step toward Him each day, and enter into something Jesus emulated during the week of His crucifixion.
Entering into dying to self:
“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:53-54
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46
The moment Jesus talked about the last few weeks had finally come. I imagine him recalling his life in those last few moments, picturing the faces of the many he had touched and his few friends he kept close. I can hear the shouting “if you are the Son of God, come down from there” and it bringing to mind his response to Peter’s attack of the soldier, “I could, if I wanted, have all of heaven fight on my behalf. This isn’t about me.” With this at the forefront of his mind, the righteous lamb of God who knew no sin, lifted up his spirit and died.
Even then, we remember Jesus dying to himself didn’t come naturally or easily. Jesus experienced that same desire for self preservation and determination we do, having asked the Father if there was any other way. In terms of life, we want something full and robust, and dying to what we desire most isn’t the usual plan.
What made Jesus different than us, who struggle to lay down the desires of the flesh daily?
I think first, Jesus didn’t pretend that this was no big deal. He acknowledged the pain that dying to self was going to cause. It was from that place that he could put his trust in His Father, whom he had seen faithfully keep His promises all his life. Through this, Jesus developed radical faith, rooting him in knowing that the Father honors our sacrifices, and that something good, something even better than we can imagine, comes from our obedience. Jesus was able to commit his spirit to the Father, because he had already committed his life. The cross wasn’t the first time Jesus said yes to the Father, and Jesus habit of obedience is the reason we have access to eternal life today.
Today, we enter into Jesus death. We look at the things we are called to lay down and allow ourselves to feel the loss. We remember all of the times the Father has been faithful in our lives, every promise He’s made good on. We plant our faith on solid ground, that the Father does something better than we can imagine when we act in obedience. We commit our lives to His hands.
Think about what God is calling you to lay down. What does it cost you? Allow yourself to feel the loss.
Think about the promises God has kept to you. Think about where you can see His faithfulness in your life. Write them down.
Commit yourself to the Father and walk in obedience of dying to self and laying down what you’ve been asked.
Tell God what you’re laying down. Thank Him for his faithfulness in your life. Ask for His strength to remain obedient and for grace to walk into the unknown. Imagine nailing these desires to the cross and commit your life anew to Him.