What is your response when you know you have to do something that is going to be unpleasant? Do you avoid it, procrastinating as long as possible? Or do you set your face firmly and move forward with determination to do what needs to be done?
I think that’s one of the character traits about Jesus that I admire the most. He was resolute in His journey to the cross. Knowing the Pharisees were plotting to kill Him, and that His hour of testing was upon Him, He walked directly toward it. That last week, He could have avoided Jerusalem, staying far out in the desert villages. He was quite capable of walking through crowds unnoticed and escaping, should He so desire. Instead, He proceeded straight into the mouth of the lions, and on that last night, He went to the Garden with His disciples because He knew Judas would find Him easily; they had gathered there often (John 17:2).
John omits Judas’ kiss of betrayal, perhaps so disturbed by it that he would like to forget it. He tells us instead about Jesus, who unflinchingly steps up to His accusers, asking “Whom do you seek?” and without hesitation admits, “I am He,” identifying Himself as the criminal and rabble-rouser “Jesus the Nazarene” they’ve been sent to arrest (John 17:3-8). Not only that, but He immediately requests His disciples be allowed to go free, taking full responsibility for the charges against Him.
Throughout His mockery of a trial, Jesus never resists. To some accusations, He remains silent, and to the honest questions, such as Pilate’s curious probing why an innocent man’s death was being sought by the Jews, He answers honestly and directly. He acknowledges He is a king, with authority over Pilate, but clarifies that His kingdom is not of this world and realm. Pilate is forced to concede Jesus has no guilt that should send Him to the cross. Indeed, He is innocent, far more innocent than Pilate knew; He was the sinless Son of God. God’s plan of redemption, set in motion before the foundation of the world, was moving forward without delay because Jesus was willing, resolute, and determined to full the mission for which He came.
What if Jesus avoided the suffering?
What if Jesus decided, “Not in this lifetime?”
What if Jesus concluded it was too difficult?
We know Jesus faced the same human feelings and reservations about the cross that we would. In the most honest revelation of the depths of His heart, He cried, “Father if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42). When the answer was clear, Jesus approached His mission with fervent dedication, undeterred by any distraction or human longing for relief.
When God brings suffering or trials our way, let us not run from them. When we are accused of belonging to Jesus, let us not deny it. When the kindness of the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, let us not delay in facing it. When God speaks to us, setting out a path of obedience that is costly and painful, let us not wait, hesitate, or lag behind Him hoping He will change His mind. Let us be like Jesus and set our minds and wills to walk on, trusting the Father to bring us through. There is joy and glory and resurrection waiting on the other side.
Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.