Jesus was not a martyr
This past Sunday we celebrated what is known as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before resurrection Sunday. The day when Jesus completed his final journey to Jerusalem. And through all this journey we have seen one thing in common, Jesus had his eyes fixed on eternity. Jerusalem was not his destination, it was a stop on the journey, the journey that led to him being seated at the right hand of the Father.
In Luke 19:28 we see Jesus walking on ahead once again, he was walking on ahead and focused on the prize, he was not being distracted. As the crowd around him sees what is happening, their excitement begins to boil over, some of them probably have memorized the prophet Zechariah, and they would immediately see what is going on as Jesus begins to ride on the colt into Jerusalem. 500 years before these were the words of the Lord given to the prophet Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Can you imagine the excitement, here they were seeing prophecy fulfilled, Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem, the promised messiah was here and he was going to throw off the oppressive Roman rulers. They spread their cloaks on the roadway as a sign of homage and respect. We must remember the context here, this was the beginning of Passover week, the time when the ancient Israelites were liberated from the slavery of the Egyptians. The beginning of the Exodus. For them the enemy was Rome, but Jesus was focused on defeating Satan, sin and death. Their vision was too small, Jesus had a much bigger mission in mind.
As Jesus was riding into Jerusalem he knew what lay ahead, he knew that within a few short days, these same people would be part of a crowd that would be screaming for him to be crucified. But how could they possible understand that the messiah of Zachariah 9:9 was the same person as the suffering servant that the Lord spoke to the prophet Isaiah about in Isaiah 53.
Many unbelievers look at the death of Jesus as an awful tragedy, as a terrible mistake that a great man made. Those who don’t know Jesus as the messiah, will see the death of Jesus as a result of the betrayal of one of his close followers, or maybe the envy of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious leaders. Maybe Jesus’ death was a result of the weak leadership of Pilate. It all seems such a terrible mistake, a tragedy.
But look back at Luke 9:51; Jesus was not caught up as a victim of a web of deceit. This was not some kind of an afterthought by God. God planned this out from before time began, because of his love for sinners like me and you. Jesus knew what was about to take place, he kept silent as they cheered him and worshipped him.
Jesus willingly entered Jerusalem, and endured the cross without resistance, he willingly allowed himself to be nailed to the cross, not because of some cause he was trying to defend. (read John 10:18)
The definition of a martyr is someone who is killed for their religious beliefs, they become victims
But Jesus died as the sacrificial lamb. He died on purpose in order to atone for our sins as an offering to God the Father, so that we can be made right with God (see 1 John 1:9).
This past Sunday we witnessed four people being baptized, it is always a wonderful celebration as we see people giving a public witness and a testimony of what God has done in their lives. Each of these four candidates for Baptism have shared their testimony of how God the Holy Spirit worked in their lives to firstly convict them of sin, and then to lead them to repentance and finally to give their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.
The reality is that Jesus is not an add-on to our lives. He is not simply a check box on a list that we need to get done in order to get into heaven. The Bible makes it clear that when you become a Christian, it is all or nothing. Unfortunately in our western culture of ease and convenience, we have removed the deep significance of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.
Baptism is a beautiful symbol of what happens when we become a Christian. When the person goes under the water, they are saying; “I am identifying with Christ, I am dying and being buried to my old life” It is a symbol of dying and giving up the past. Then as the person comes up out of the water, it is symbolizing that they are being raised to a new life in Christ.
Just as Jesus went to Jerusalem, to die on purpose, not as a victim or a martyr, he calls us to die as well.
Dying to our old way of life, dying to our selfish desires and beginning to live a new life, a life that is committed to living for Jesus Christ.
Only by Dying can you truly live.
Only by dying can you begin to bring life to those around you.
See what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26. That raises the bar a bit doesn’t it? Jesus is saying that this is the norm. This is the only way to become his disciple.
Today as you look at your life, do you qualify as a disciple of Jesus? You may have been baptized many years ago, you may have prayed the prayer of salvation many years ago, but are you truly living a new life in Christ.
Does your life reflect the life of Jesus, not the life of a martyr, but the life of a person who is dying on purpose?