No Turning Back – March 23, 2018

Jesus said, “No one who puts his or her hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

As Holy Week approaches, we all have a decision to make. The question is not whether or not we’re ready to celebrate what Easter Sunday signifies. No doubt we all want to share in the jubilant euphoria expressed by “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!” If we believe Jesus has defeated death on our behalf, then who wouldn’t want to follow Jesus into eternal life? But that’s not really the critical question. The question is whether or not we’re willing to follow Jesus on the path that leads to the resurrection.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

It would be far easier to jump directly from the parade of Palm Sunday to the empty tomb of Easter. Yet that’s not the path our Savior took. If we’re to follow him, we cannot avoid the Last Supper. Jesus knew full well what it means to obey the Father wholeheartedly, even when such obedience calls for saying goodbye to those you love (cf. Lk. 9:59-60).

Though none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

We might even wonder why anyone would choose to commemorate something as seemingly bleak and gory as Good Friday. “Surely,” we may think, “it’s more healthy to stay positive and “ ‘keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side…’” Yet that’s not the path our Savior took. He didn’t relish the prospect of Calvary’s agony, but he went—for us. Some will allow the concerns and the pleasures of this life keep them from following (Lk. 9:61-62). Will you? Will I?

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Some might question why such bloodshed was necessary. Could the Sovereign Lord of the universe not figure out a better way? “After all,” some may say, “are people really that bad off? Sure, no one is perfect, but did Jesus really need to die to reconcile us to God.” Yet that’s not the reality that sent our Savior to the cross. He didn’t approach the cross in hopes of encouraging basically good human beings to live better. Jesus died on the cross because there was no other way to make hopelessly depraved sinners acceptable to a holy and loving God. Some will treat the cross as optional or as a tragic accident of history. What about you? What about me?

The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

As our only sure and certain hope of salvation, Jesus demands more than our shallow celebrations. He calls for radical and unreserved loyalty. Consequently, may the Spirit use our Holy Week services this year to cultivate such discipleship in us.

Your Pastor,