Preparing for the Passion
Our Lenten season journey will soon close with remembrance of the Passion Week. This week, prior to Easter, recounts the suffering and death of Jesus Christ as He journeyed to the Cross. During that week, Jesus was intentional and direct as He prepared his disciples for the gruesome ending of His physical life. His act represented, not only His extreme love for us but also, His unyielding obedience to the Father.
Jesus’ substitutional death was decreed by God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). A sacrifice for sin was needed (Lev. 17:11) and Jesus was that willing, obedient sacrifice. Jesus was to die for our sins and receive the penalty we deserved. From the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ focus was to release us from the bondage of sin (Matt. 1:21).
Jesus leads the way
Jesus announced His arrival as the promised Messiah in the synagogue at Nazareth. He was the Anointed One who would “release the captives and let the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).
Jesus accomplished that purpose on Easter Sunday, when He rose from the dead, breaking the power and the penalty of sin in our lives (Col. 2:13-15). This includes sins we have committed in the past, commit in the present, and will commit in the future. When we reach heaven, we will finally be delivered from the presence of sin.
Jesus’ obedience led to our victory over sin and our freedom to grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18). Why? So that we can obediently serve the Lord and further His kingdom.
So why are we still acting like slaves?
In Romans 6:16-18, the Apostle Paul challenges the young church at Rome to obediently follow Jesus and the Word (the Gospel) that had been delivered to them. I guess you could call them “hokey-pokey” Christians. They had “one foot in the Church and one foot in the world”. Sound familiar?
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
This is the same “obedience challenge” we face daily while living in our earthly flesh. Until we are delivered from the presence of sin, we must doggedly declare “ourselves dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom. 6:11). We must exercise our freedom in Christ to leave behind sinful patterns and influences which move us away from God. We must not take God’s glorious gift of grace for granted and continue in sin through our disobedience.
Slaves of righteousness
During this season of Lent, many of us are practicing the discipline of fasting. We have given up some habit, practice, or vice and have replaced it with new activities that draw us closer to Jesus. This includes more time in prayer, studying the Word, or solitude.
Lent is a period of denying our “flesh” and of self-reflection, hopefully leading us to greater spiritual maturity and obedience. But let’s be honest, aren’t there some things we should stop doing beyond Lenten season? Some sin(s) that are keeping us enslaved to the world and Satan? (Heb. 12:1)
Are we choosing to remain “shackled” by sin when Christ has set us free from sin’s power and penalty?
“You are slaves of the one you obey.” Question for today: Who are you obedient to?