JD Meeder joined us this week and after a series of anecdotes about his work with Journey Camp in Toccoa and Water Mission in Charleston, he was focused on was giving FCA a way to discern our purpose in following Jesus.
The “meat” of what he discussed was focused on Jesus’s triumphal entry in Matthew 21. In this chapter, we see crowds of people bowing before Jesus, placing their jackets and palm branches as he rides into the city. Why does Jesus get a parade? JD discussed the identity problem facing the Jews: they had been slaves for 400 years. Their slavery was as closely associated with their identity as Americans associate their identities with freedom. So, when a man who seemed like he could lead an uprising and give freedom to the people, they came in crowds to support. But it didn’t last for long.
Fast forward to Matthew 27 — Jesus is before Pilate on trial. As was traditional at the time, Pilate would release a prisoner of the people’s choosing. The chief priest and elders convinced the crown that they should release Barabbas — a known criminal, revolt leader, and murder — and crucify Jesus. Verse 25 says, “All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Their attitudes were easily swayed and quickly changed from hope of freedom to following the crowd mentality. They didn’t care who was released, as long as it seemed beneficial in the present — kind of seems familiar, doesn’t it?
JD transitioned to talk about the way that the gospel is presented in church today. Rather than showing an image of full surrender, we’re presented with the Jesus that is “beneficial” for us but not one that requires complete submission. Not only does Jesus want our pain and our struggles, but He wants all of us. JD posed important questions through stories of his own experience like, “If Jesus wasn’t in heaven, would you still want to go?” and “Are we serving when we get something? Are we serving when it costs?”.
Our full surrender can mean full freedom from the weight of sin. That doesn’t mean that life is suddenly easy or lacking struggle, but rather that we are fully equipped to take on whatever it throws our way through Jesus.