Each of us has a few decisive moments in life, or perhaps just one—one moment, one situation, one decision—that changes everything from that point on. Crunch time. Everything else has led up to the moment; everything to come will be influenced by it.
This is Thursday of Freedom Week, crunch time. The Liberator was on a roll—hailed by the crowds, successfully asserting his authority in the Temple, turning the tables on the religious “scholars” with their loaded questions, and speaking confidently about the end of the world.
But Jesus had no illusions that things would keep getting better for him. He clearly sensed that the time of his ordeal had come, and he used his last available hours to full advantage for the cause of freedom. First, he reoriented the Passover meal to himself, “Do this (eat the Passover) in remembrance of ME (not just of Moses and Egypt).”
We may not realize how unforgettably shocking this would have sounded to the disciples. Leaders cannot say such things. Imagine the outcry and protests in America if President Trump were to re-name the Fourth of July (America’s national independence day) “Trump Day,” and to tell people that from now on, all the fireworks would be in memory and honor of him personally!
After Jesus made this declaration, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane for the final showdown, knowing his betrayer was on the move, bringing the forces to take him away to trial, torture, and execution. He was more than smart enough to make an escape plan or prepare some defenses, but he was wise enough not to.
He only prayed. He knew that the real showdown was not with Judas and the soldiers, it was with his own desires when they did not match the Father’s.
The whole situation is reminiscent of another crunch time, a time in Eden. The question is the same in both: “When one option looks better for me personally, and the other is the one God has decided for me, which one do I go with?” Adam and Eve got it wrong, losing their freedom and ours. Jesus got it right, suspended his own preference, signed off on the Father’s will at any cost, and regained freedom for us all.
This and not Good Friday was the day Jesus “lost his life” in the sense he was describing when he told his followers, “Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Lk. 9.24).
In other words, freedom is not freedom to indulge our desires and choose our preferences. The only way to get real freedom is to lose freedom as we used to think of it. We must lose ourselves and our preferences in Jesus and his mission. Today Jesus shows us how to do it, and he calls us to do it with him.
Affirmation: The only seed freedom can sprout from is surrender to Jesus and his mission.
Prayer: Father, I agree to face my situation today in your way not mine. Your will be done.