By Nancy Lim
As we enter into the Holy Week, it is a timely to remember Jesus’s suffering and the sacrifice which He made in order that those who believe in Him, may receive salvation from His finished work on the cross.
Jesus is the Son of God. Yet Hebrews 5:8-9 (NIV) tells us “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Did the words “obey” or “obedience” capture your attention? If even Jesus has to learn obedience, what does it mean for the rest of us? I believe that every true believer wants to please God, and obedience is key to pleasing God. We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. But how often do we find ourselves “crawling” away from the altar? We crawl away out of fear, out of self-centeredness, out of disobedience.
To obey is better than sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told repeatedly that God would make them fruitful and multiply them if they obey Him and keep His commandments. They would receive abundant blessings from God for their obedience. On the contrary, they would face serious consequences for being disobedient. Their disobedience had led the northern kingdom of Israel to total destruction and the southern kingdom of Judah into 70 years of exile.
The same blessings and warnings apply to us today. However, our focus should not be on the blessings or warnings. Rather, let us focus on the cross. Just as Jesus went to the cross because He loves both God and us, we obey God out of love and not out of fear of judgement. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:18-19)
Sometimes God allows unusual things to happen in our lives in order to get our attention when we persist in our disobedience. A pastor - Tom - shared with me how for a number of years he totally disregarded God’s call for him to become a pastor. One day, he tripped and fell as he leaped over a low fence. It gave him such a severe back pain that he had to lie in bed for a few weeks. The doctors could not find the source of the pain. Finally, Tom prayed to God, promising to serve Him if he was healed. And a miraculous healing took place. I would like to qualify that such miraculous healing happens by the grace of God. It does not mean that healing will always take place each time we pray. Neither does it points to a lack of faith in the person when healing does not happen.
An engineer-turned-missionary shared how he used to think that he was too busy with his career to get involved in missions and so God helped him make time – he was retrenched. God blessed both of their ministries when they finally obeyed God’s call.
Are you procrastinating on a decision or an assignment that God has called you to do? Will you pray about it this week and confide your worries, fears or other reservations to God? Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34). I pray that you will receive an assurance from God and make a decision to respond.
Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). This Holy Week, may I encourage you to reflect upon the fine example of obedience that Jesus has set for us and the work that He has accomplished through His obedience to the will of God. Examine the areas of our lives where we have been disobedient. We can ask God for forgiveness and for His help to overcome our disobedience. Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy upon us.