Submitted by rmurden on Fri, 01/30/2015 – 14:15
“Baruch haba b’shem Adonai!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26)
Those were the words of the crowds as they welcomed Jesus, a man they barely knew, while the ones who did know Him didn’t quite understand the events that were taking place (John 12:16). They were still trying to make sense out of everything that was happening around them. “Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him.” What they saw then didn’t make sense yet. The disciples didn’t know where the path led that Jesus was taking that day. They didn’t know that it led to death, that it led to crucifixion.
Paul was not among the disciples on that day. At this point, he was still a persecutor rather than a proclaimer of the Gospel. But years later, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, he began to follow Jesus. He did whatever it took to know Him, even following Him all the way to death (Philippians 3:10-11). Why? Because he knew that the way to death was the way to life. He had seen God’s faithfulness proven in Christ. He had been freed from the shame of his past and had found his identity in the One whom he previously persecuted (Psalm 69:6). He forsook all else for His sake because he knew through Christ that God was faithful (Philippians 3:7-9).
The path of knowing Jesus is a path from death to life. This path is strewn with innumerable enemies (Psalm 69:4) that promise the opposite: a form of life that leads to death. Paul faced this in his own ministry, and in his own life (Philippians 3:1-6). We face this in our lives daily. So many times we are given the opportunity to choose the path that leads to life or the path that leads to death. But what we often forget is that the path to life begins with death, because it begins with Christ, and that if we are going to follow Him, we have to take the same path, trusting that God will be faithful to us just as He was faithful to Jesus.
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first He suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord. Amen.