Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face. Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!” When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
The church is often afflicted by the notion that God-given power should be exercised in every God-given-moment. Jesus makes it clear, however that CAN does not equal SHOULD. When the mob came to arrest him in the garden Jesus’ voice flattened armed soldiers, yet He permitted these self-declared enemies to stand up again and arrest him. (John 18: 4-11). This choice made by Jesus should not be mistaken for passivity or weakness but the fruit of powerfully submitted to love, the discipline of restraint. Jesus, who overturned the tables of money changers, turned water into wine, healed on the sabbath, and rebuked hypocrites voluntarily accepted restricted freedom on the way to the cross because of his commitment to “this hour” and “this cup”. He was listening and fully committed to the will of His Father.
In our busy lives, we can easily default to “always” or “never” formulas of how we should think, behave or respond. Until his arrest, Jesus did not allow His voice or His body to be chained. After Jesus’ ascension, the apostles did not always submit to rulers’ attempts to restrict their speech or freedom. Paul often moved on to a different city when faced with threatening situations, but when God told him that he “must testify in Rome” (Acts 24:11), he chose to restrict his freedom by appealing to Caesar instead of being set free (Acts 26:32). God’s path in each instance of potentially restricted freedom seems to be found only in prayerful discernment. For us, restricted freedom can come in a wide variety of forms: physical and emotional limitations, decisions of those over us, laws that limit religious freedom, and economic downturns that affect our budgets and our dreams. Today, consider the restrictions you are experiencing and fast from quick formulas and patterns of thinking. Instead, spend time in prayerful discernment asking God to show you His way.
Question to Consider
Our muscles need cycles of both exercise and rest in order to grow. In the same way, the gifts and strengths God has entrusted us with need these cycles of exercise and rest. Resting is a form of discipline. Throughout his life, Jesus displayed remarkable discipline in the use of His gifting and power. What are your greatest strengths and how frequently do you rest them?
Jesus, thank you for your love that led to your great sacrifice. Thank you for saving me when I didn’t deserve it. Father, teach me to listen and discern so that your ways will be my ways.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
The 40 days of decrease blogs have been inspired by the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.