The Beauty of Obedience

obedience 2

Mark 14:12-21
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13 And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 “And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. 17 When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me-one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21 “For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Have you ever wondered about some of the cryptic things Jesus said? By now, the disciples were probably used to it, growing in their faith of Him and His words. Generally when we talk about faith, it is in a serious or grand context: the healing of a dying relative, finding a job, safe passage through an unknown land…but we forget that walking by faith is an “all the time” thing. Think about it, Jesus said go find some random guy carrying a pitcher of water in the city and he will give them a room to have their Passover dinner. Doesn’t this seem a bit incredulous? Secondly, what is up with the code talk? “The teacher says…” how will this man know who the teacher is? We must look further than just what we see on the outside. We must recognize the connection on the inside.

When we maintain our intimate connection with God, all this stuff makes sense. As we keep in touch with our Creator who sees all things through time and space, He clues us in on things like this. God told Jesus to send His disciples to find a place. God told the owner of the house a teacher will be coming to celebrate Passover in one of his rooms. The dots are connected by obedience. This little scene of Jesus sending some guys out to get a room for the night is a perfect example of how the body of Christ should work together. If all of us are being obedient to what He tells us, not only will we see the dead resurrected and the sick healed, but we will also see little miracles like this worked out because everyone is listening and obeying what they hear from God the Father. This is called discipleship.

Directly after this beautiful display of obedience and working well together, Jesus drops the bomb on them that one of them will betray Him. We know that Judas already knew it would be him, but the others were almost offended. They did not want to betray Him and as they protested against Jesus’ words (once again), the doubts begin in their minds of their own loyalty to Christ. Even though only one will set in motion the events that are about to unfold leading to Jesus’ death, all of the disciples turn their backs on Him at some point within the next 72 hours. We may recall at this point the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 where he explains the inner battle against the sinful nature we have grown into as humans and how as Christians we are constantly fighting against it:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

Maybe the disciples didn’t understand this concept just yet. Later, Jesus will tell Peter (the rock) that he will deny Jesus three times within the next day or so. Our desire is to serve and love God and emulate Jesus, but our sinful nature wars against that. Our first step in battling against this nature is to recognize the battle. Secondly, we must cling to Jesus and follow Him at all costs. It will cost us everything, but in doing so we will gain much more than we lose. We must stay clos to Him, continue working on our relationship with Him, and be obedient to what He says because He knows better than we do. In response to Paul’s conundrum described above, he reveals the answer in verse 25:

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

His thankfulness to God through Jesus Christ is of our salvation. We have dirtied our souls with accepted sinfulness in the world but He cleans us white as snow. The burden of our sinfulness is lifted and we are no longer compelled or required to sin, but free to live within the confines of God’s perfect law of love. When we are obedient to His love, then we are free to live in God’s Kingdom, free from the power of sin, free to choose life over death, free to not betray Him.

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