23 January 2019
Reading: Exodus 6-8; Luke 23
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. (Luke 23:55–56 NLT)
Jesus’ disciples and these faithful women who had followed Jesus during his three years of ministry were stunned and heartbroken. In the past seven days, they had seen Jesus’ popularity climax with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and then plummet to a riot of crowds shouting, “Crucify him!” They had seen the leaders of their Jewish faith unjustly accuse and ultimately kill their teacher and friend. They had seen the Jewish civil government sidestep the opportunity to bring justice, and they had seen the Roman civil government give in to pressure and order Jesus to be horribly and painfully tortured and killed.
Yet in the midst of all this shock and horror, with everything they had trusted in gone, with the leaders of their religion exposed as murderers, they rested quietly on the Sabbath as the law of Moses commanded.
We must have a foundation for our faith in Christ that doesn’t depend on our circumstances, the support of our peers, or the performance of our leaders. God’s word makes it clear that we should submit to our leaders. Jesus made it clear that leaders are accountable for the effect of their actions on their followers. But leaders are human and don’t always do right. Our faith must be in Christ alone!
We must make sure that our faith is internalized, that we own our faith, and that our consciences are our own. The time will come in the life of each Christ-follower when a leader or a church will disappoint. Many who are following the person or the church, without the deep inner work of the Holy Spirit that makes faith personal, are shaken or turn away from their faith in such a situation. In today’s highly polarized political climate, when the faith of many has become aligned with particular political ideologies, some will invariably encounter a faith crisis when politicians fail to produce the Kingdom of God. Who owns your faith?
Father, I’ve seen leaders come and go. I’ve seen leaders fail morally, and I’ve seen leaders whose motives were shown to be selfish and short-sighted. I thank you that I can place my faith in you, respect and submit to the leaders you appoint, and that I can “rest quietly” in the confidence that you never fail, even when others disappoint. I trust you. Amen.