Left to our own devices and ambitions, many of us would make most of decisions in our own favor and perhaps at times at the expense of others. Have you ever cut into a “zipper” lane on the freeway ahead of a driver that seems to be attempting to pinch you out? Small thing, but what is it about driving that seems to bring out the worst in us? The selfishness in us? We want what we want when we want it.
Jesus call for “death” is to deny our own desires and place his desires first. Often times the way we live this out is by putting other people first. How about letting the next driver zippering in next to you go ahead of you? Jesus demonstrated the denial of self in his prayer just prior to his arrest in the garden. I know it’s a small thing, but isn’t this an example of denying our own desires and placing another’s ahead of our own? Selflessness?
He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine” – Matthew 26:39 NLV
We have so much to learn from this short prayer. It seems Jesus was humble and in anguish over the thought of the events forthcoming. He stated his desire – let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Then he affirmed that his Father’s will is what matters, is the priority and ultimately the direction Jesus is submitting to, will conform to and follow. How often I take the easier, softer way. Jesus took the hard road because he knew it was the Father’s will.
Think of the title to an automobile. It’s a piece of paper that looks very official. It contains the specifics of the make, model and mileage at time of transfer as well as if there are any loans on the car and most importantly who owns the car. In most cases, if you sign the title, the document becomes a live document, meaning whoever possesses the title actually owns the car. The holder of the signed title can take possession of the car, resell the car, drive the car, scrap the car or to anything else they want. Until the title is signed, the car is still owned by the person named on the title. Once signed, the title may then be turned over to a new owner.
We all have title to our own lives. We own our lives, or at least we mostly act as though we do. We make decisions every day that reflect our ownership – eat what we decide to eat, go where we decide to go and do what we decide to do. By agreeing to deny ourselves, Jesus is urging us to sign the title of our lives and hand it over to him. He’ll decide what he’ll have us do and we’ll follow because we no longer have ownership of our lives.
My friend Dave has lived this out for several years. Jesus gave him a heart of compassion for those living on less. He was inspired to begin serving a simple breakfast outside of a homeless shelter in Minneapolis. Each day, every day, began with preparations starting around 4:30 am with clean up ending at 7:00 am. He felt compassion for others, was moved to serve and many others have now joined the effort. I think Jesus holds the signed title of Dave’s life.
How about you?