As I’ve reflected on John’s record of Holy Week, I’ve wondered: What will I have to lose if I submit to King Jesus? What will have to die if I am to live in the Kingdom He bought for me with His blood?
Several clues in the context of this story have convinced me that I may have to lose my PLACE, my POWER, and my PRESTIGE. Today we’ll consider what it might mean to lose our power in order to live in Christ’s Kingdom.
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9–11, ESV)
The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:17-19, ESV)
The Pharisees were losing their crowds and their control, and they knew it. They were getting desperate. They couldn’t shut Jesus up or shut Him down. They knew that Jesus had a reputation for astonishing the crowds with His teaching because His words carried an authority that was unlike that of their teachers (Matthew 7:28-29). The religious power brokers feared the scales of control would soon tip in Jesus’ favor, so they sought to destroy Him (Mark 11:18). And indeed, they were right. Jesus didn’t come to get in cahoots with the current religious powers that be. No, He came to overthrow their authority and establish His own.
The king has come for his kingdom and has issued a clear and direct challenge to the reigning structures of political, economic, and religious power. The drama can only end in one of two ways. Either Jesus will topple the reigning powers and establish his messianic kingdom — or he will be killed.
Justin Taylor and Andreas Kostenberger, The Final Days of Jesus, page 44.
I can relate to Pharisees’ anxiety. If Jesus is King, then I’m not. If I’m not King, then I’m not in charge. If Jesus is King, then He gets to tell me what to do, but I kind of like the idea of telling Him what He should and shouldn’t do.
When I became a believer in Jesus I expected Him to build my kingdom not bulldoze it! But this is what a loving King does for the people He loves, the people He bought with His own blood. He bulldozes our little bitty, ME-FIRST kingdoms so that He can build His great big, GOD-AND-OTHERS-FIRST kingdom in its place. This is actually good news, I know, but I’ll admit, the demolition process can be messy and painful.
In Jesus’ Kingdom there is no “Jesus take the wheel!” Rather, Jesus says, “I’ve already got the wheel. You LET GO.”
Jesus calls me to lose, to die to, my power and control, and to love and live in His. Do I trust the heart of Jesus enough to rest under His rule, to loosen my grip and lose my griping, to follow Him rather than fight Him?
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. – Jesus (John 12:24-26, ESV)
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41–42, ESV)
He did it first. Jesus trusted the heart of His Father and submitted to His Father’s will. He did that for me even when I was still His enemy. Why would I not trust Him?
“The sin underneath all sins is the lie that we cannot trust the love and grace of Jesus and that we must take matters into our own hands.” – Martin Luther
Tomorrow: “Losing My Prestige”