Rev. Carolyn StephensTherefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Willing to Enter the Arena
Without knowing how the end would have been, I can imagine some had probably thought it was the end for Jesus.
Some may have likened him to a “flash in the pan” cult leader – one who came on the scene with some flair, stirred up the crowd with empty words, did a little magic, and then was no more.
He promised a lot, but could not fulfill what he had promised, they may have said. A few people got excited because of his teachings, and some even said they were healed, but that was the extent of it. Yesterday he was on a cross. And today he is in a tomb. He could not even save his own life?
I can imagine some asking “What was he thinking?” Others may have even questioned if it was worth it. I can imagine some even said, he knew the risks he was taking; he knew the consequences.
Jesus knew the consequences, yet he was still willing to enter the arena.
Throughout history, there have been men and women who were willing to take the risk and enter the arena.
It was after a threatening phone call around midnight that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat at the dining table in his kitchen and wrestled with what to do. The spotlight was on him. He had to make a decision. The caller on the line had told him that if he does not leave town they would kill him, and blow up his house.
Dr. King wrote, “Something said to me, ‘You can’t call on Daddy now … You can’t even call on Mama now … You’ve got to call on that something in that person your daddy used to tell you about.”
He said he prayed. He knew the cause he was standing for was right and just, but he admitted to the Lord that he was weak and afraid, and that he was losing courage.
He said at that point it seemed he could hear something within him saying, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness; stand up for justice; stand up for truth; and lo, I will be with you even until the end of the world.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went on to lead a movement that changed the lives of millions and the course of the United States of America.
Willing to enter the arena is not an easy decision, and most likely we will be criticized. But at least they were willing to dare greatly.
So to the people who might have asked what was he thinking ….
It was worth it for Jesus to enter the arena. It was worth it for the great men and women of the faith, like Martin Luther King, Jr. to enter the arena. And it is worth it for you, and for me.
Although we will suffer, we will grow strong.
Friday happened! But Easter is coming!
Faithful God, You are the One who writes our story. And it is not over until you say it is over.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen!