Last post I stated that my relationship with Christ is one of Him as the good and noble king, and me being the country peasant. This image works for me on many levels, but this morning – Palm Sunday – it is especially relevant.
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” —Luke 19: 28-44
At the heart of Lent is setting aside time to focus on Jesus the proclaimed King of Israel, who rode into Jerusalem in like fashion as His ancestor King David did, who then laid down his life as a sacrifice for my sins, and then rose from the dead as final victor over sin, death and the grave. Take time to think about MY sins that placed Jesus on that cross more than 2,000 years ago, and would place Him there again today. Take time to revel on Easter Sunday that His resurrection from the dead means my victory now over sin…and later over the grave. And take time to ponder what it means that Jesus, the King, is alive and well and living within your heart.
There is only one way I know of to allow someone to take the place of king in my heart: to make room for him there; take the time to get better acquainted with this special resident living inside me; say “yes” to Him at all times; and say “no” to anything that would encroach on His space in my heart.
Most of us associate fasting with Lent. It’s often what turns us off from observing any formal practice during this time. I would be turned off too, if I were given a mandate to eat or not eat certain things with little or no explanation as to why (no offense intended to my Catholic Christian brothers and sisters). Or if I thought fasting would turn me into a wide-eyed, sunken-faced fanatic. Jesus expected his disciples to fast, but it was not without a purpose. I will leave it up to you to decide if the disciples were over-the-top fanatics.
Let me ask this question in defense of fasting in general, from one food junkie to the many others out there. If you were asked to give up a meal, could you do it? “Sure, easy,” you might think. But would you do it? If you’re like me, you might pause a good long while before relinquishing the pleasure of one meal.
That’s the crux of fasting. It opens my eyes to the question of who controls my life – me and my passions, or Christ? Jesus doesn’t want to be King only when it doesn’t conflict with my desires. He wants to be king always, and have full reign over every aspect of my life.
Cornelius Plantings, Jr., president of Calvin Theological Seminary and noted author and speaker, states: “Self indulgence is the enemy of gratitude, and self-discipline usually its friend and generator. That is why gluttony is a deadly sin. The early desert fathers believed that a person’s appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for righteousness. They spoil the appetite for God.”
I’ve tried in my Lenten posts to share how I have become more aware of my own secret attitudes and behaviors, seeking (with the Holy Spirit’s help) to replace these with my Tree of Gs. This awareness was awakened initially and primarily through brief periods of fasting during Lents past, which have expanded to other fasts throughout the year. The most pivotal thing I have learned is how my attitudes and behaviors are rooted in my passions. In fact they are inextricably linked. Therefore, relinquishing control of my passions to Christ the King (note I did not say “take control”) is key to living uprightly before God in all areas.
Today, Palm Sunday 2011, marks the beginning of Holy Week. I will write each day this week, sharing my daily observances and more thoughts about fasting.