Obedience and Sacrifice (revised)
Jesus submitted willingly because he knew the intent of the Father. That is the key: to be assured of God's intent. We may forget the details as long as we accept the Person who is inaugurating the changes. To haggle over details, to fuss over delays, and to sulk when God seemingly changes His tactics is really an unconscious defamation of God's character.
W. Glyn Evans - Daily With the King
Trick question: Which Jesus would you rather follow?
(notice the same characters present in both sketches)
What more do I ask of you than yourself? I do not care at all for anything else that you may give me. I do not seek your gift. I seek you. Just as it would not satisfy you to have anything but me, so it does not please me to have anything you may give, if you do not give yourself.
Offer yourself to me and give your entire self for God. Such an offering will be accepted. Look, I offered all of myself to the Father for you. I gave my entire Body and Blood for your food so that I might be all yours and you might be all mine.
If you hold back and will not resign yourself to my will without having second thoughts, then your offering is not perfect nor will we become perfectly at one.
The Imitation of Chirst - Thomas a Kempis
To the prophet, no matter how noble the King's sacrifice seemed, Samuel retorted Saul's self-defense with "to obey God is better than sacrifice". In Hebrews, we are taught that Jesus, in reverent submission, "learned obedience from what he suffered". God learned !?
Like a child undergoing discipline, I must want to learn obedience. I must want to obey that Other. In The Inner Voice of Love Henri Nouwen teaches:
Developing your identity as a child of God in no way means giving up your responsibilities. Likewise, claiming your adult self in no way means that you cannot become increasingly a child of God. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you feel safe as a child of God, the freer you will be to claim your mission in the world as a responsible human being. And the more you claim that you have a unique task to fulfill for God, the more open you will be to letting your deepest need be met.
The kingdom of peace that Jesus came to establish begins when your lion and your lamb can freely and fearlessly lie down together.There is some kind of paradox about obedience to the Father (being the focus of the will of Jesus) and sacrifice (being the crux of Christ's infinite resignation) to the will of His Father. This willing obedience and willed sacrfice were ultimately manifested and realized in the power of resurrection, where the Father and the Spirit willingly raised the Son from the dead. All of this willing between willing Persons tied into Jesus' own authority, given to Him by His Father, to lay His life down, only to take it up again. There is a lot of "willingness" in God.
A paradox is like a prism - it captures truth (light) and reveals its deeply mysterious properties.
In obedience Joshua willingly devoted all of Jericho and its riches to God. Achan and Saul fell into the same trap of not being willing to devote everything to God in the way God willed and commanded such devotion. It was not simply that Achan and Saul were wishy-washy in their disobedience: They willed disobedience! God called it rebellion and arrogance - which are planted, conceived, and birthed in the deadly manipulative acts of divination and idolatry. Achan and his family were put to death. Saul was rejected as King, mortally wounded in battle, and ultimately committed suicide (with the aid of an Amalekite) beside the bodies of his three sons.
Wealth and power have always tempted God's people away from obiedence. The oppressive wealth and powers of Jericho, Amalek, Babylon, Jerusalem and Rome are some of the very demons God attacked with fierce determination on the cross. All for the freedom of many sons and daughters. One becoming poor making many rich.
Amidst the rubble of Jericho, Joshua pronounced this solemn shadow:
Cursed before the Lord is the man who underakes to rebuild this city, Jericho.At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates.
And now I'm thinking about Jesus speaking about counting the cost before building a tower, and warning his apprentices about the deceptive hollow grandure of the templar monolith. And back in the prophets, how Zechariah saw Jerusalem as a city without walls and the presence of God as a blazing super-nova circle of fire all around it. How God's glory was Israel's rear guard to Isaiah. How Moses was led by God's fire, was prepared to see God's glory, and overheard God's name proclaimed in a fierce wild landscape. The name and character of God echoing off every boulder and canyon wall.
Egypt and Babylon were schools of humility for a people without lands, kings without countries, prophetic authors without any claims. They only had a hope! Because, God had sacrificed everything on their behalf. God gave up their land for them. God gave up their cities for them. God gave up their kings for them... For a certain Person's namesake God left them with absolutely nothing.
Why? It may have had something to do with helping them discover their own dark hearts. And if they ever repented and found their hearts again, at a time when they had nothing, they may become obedient with hands full of sacrifice when they are given back everything... by the giver of all good things.
Taking a lesson from St. Paul:
Having nothing - find your heart.
With everything - keep your heart.
...known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.