One of my favorite book titles is Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Long. Obedience. Same. No catchy words in that title to market Christianity to spiritual shoppers. The subtitle of the book spells it out even more clearly: Discipleship in an Instant Society. We see that in microcosm during Holy Week. How quickly the crowd gave up following Jesus when He came in a way they did not expect, or want.
The Jews expected the Messiah to come as a conquering king and deliver them from Roman domination. Instead, Jesus came as a baby and rode into town on a donkey—the symbol of peace. The crowds who praised Jesus with Hosanna! (Save us) on Palm Sunday were persuaded to demand His crucifixion less than one week later. They were quick to turn from “Save us!” to “Kill Him!”
They were only willing to follow Jesus as long as He fed them, healed them, preached about love, and rebuked their harsh and hypocritical religious leaders. But when He started getting personal—talking about carrying their cross, partaking in His body and blood, forgiving their enemies, praying for those who mistreated them, even loving them. Well, that was taking it a bit too far.
Yet, how different are we? How different am I?
Peterson’s words penned thirty-seven years ago are even truer today: “There is a great market for religious experience in our world: there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” We want sensation without self-discipline. We want heaven—as long as it doesn’t take too long or cost too much to get there.
But heaven is for those tenacious to know the person of Jesus and become like Him.
The sad thing is many supposed seekers, like most followers of Jesus’ day, are more self-centered than God-centered. “Everyone is in a hurry. The persons who I lead in worship, among whom I counsel, visit, pray, preach, and teach,” said Peterson, “want short cuts. They want me to help them fill out the form that will get them instant credit (in eternity). They are impatient for results. They have adopted the lifestyle of a tourist and only want the high points.” Palm Sunday tourists.
Are you willing to commit to a LONG obedience in the SAME direction? Even if Jesus doesn’t relieve your pain? Even if your finances don’t improve? Even when people misunderstand? Even when they leave you, like they left Him?
I say Yes. I have not come this far to turn back now. I will wave my hands in praise on Palm Sunday, and stay with Jesus through the dark in the Garden of Gethsemane. I will weep as He is mocked, beaten, and falsely accused. And I will stand at the cross through the hours of agony as the perfect Son of God pays the penalty for my sins. Only then can I celebrate His resurrection on Sunday morning when the heavens ring with Hosannas and Halleluiahs.
The life of a disciple is a daily walk with the risen Christ. It never changes course. It doesn’t give in to public opinion or current trends. It is steady and sure and worth every sacrifice. Because the goal is heaven and the prize is to be in the presence of our Savior and King forever and ever.
#Easter #PalmSunday #hosannatocrucifyhim #obedience #perseverence #changingcourse