This is Holy Week. For Jesus’s disciples, it is the week that we follow him to the cross. It is the week we recall his burial. It is the week that ends in celebration of our victorious King! Yet, some who claim the name of Jesus want to arrive at Easter morning without going through Good Friday.
The twelve disciples became the eleven disciples on the way to the cross. Instead of counting the cost, Judas used Jesus for personal gain. Of course, whatever he gained wasn’t enough to keep him from a tragic ending.
To follow Jesus requires us to count the cost. Jesus took away the penalty of sin; we offer our life out of gratitude for His salvation.
No sooner had Stephen been made a deacon in the church than he was being arrested and facing the death penalty. His day in court would end, not with the angry executioners, but with him following to sleep in the arms of Jesus.
While Jesus’s death means I no longer have to pay for the penalty of my sin, His grace means that I’m overcoming the power sin in my life. Overcoming the power of sin will cost me in very real and personal ways. In that struggle, we’ll be tempted to reach for quick fixes.
To be sure, genuine rest, peace, comfort, and strength come grace through faith in Jesus alone. When we meet Jesus on Good Friday, we are reminded that sin’s power has been shattered at the cross! Let us count the cost, then, of taking hold of that Christ’s power:
It costs the fleeting pleasure of addictions to follow real satisfaction in Jesus.
It costs the false security in riches to follow the treasure of heaven in Jesus.
It costs the world’s applause to follow the grace of God in Jesus.
It costs the satisfaction of revenge to follow the justice of Jesus.
It costs self-condemnation to follow love of Jesus.
On Good Friday we will lay down the burden of making life work on our own terms. We will take up the life found only in Jesus. While costly, the benefits of Jesus are, as the old hymn says, “ten thousand charms.”
It cost Stephen his life. In the end, he was resting in the arms of Jesus when his executioners stoned him.
What does it cost you to follow Jesus? What does resting in the arms of Jesus mean for you?
Close out Lent with a prayer of thanksgiving this Friday when you meet God’s gift at the cross.