Galatians 2:20 says, in part, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Surrounded by exultant crowds, Jesus rode on the back of a royal animal up into Jerusalem, warning the Pharisees along the way that if He were to try to silence the crowds, the rocks themselves would cry out. I was supposed to be preaching my last of five series of sermons from Hebrews on Christology. The title was to be “Jesus Is … Savior.”
The crowds didn’t know what Jesus was coming to do. The Pharisees didn’t know it. The disciples who surrounded Him didn’t know it. But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. And it was not riding to a coronation. Not the kind the crowds were expecting, anyway. He would get a crown, but it wasn’t going to be made of metal. Even Pope Francis did not choose the kind of crown Jesus was to get in just five more days.
Jesus was coming, as Paul would later write, “to give Himself up for me.” To be our Savior, Priest, King, Mediator, brother. He came to identify with us and to take on our identity in death. Those same crowds that we remember tomorrow for crying out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” would change by Friday to cry out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
And we are just as fickle.
I have been surprised how difficult knowing what to do with myself has become in the week and a half since I resigned as pastor. My identify was wrapped up in that title, job, function, and mystique. I have even found myself driving out to see members of my now former church in a kind of pastoral visit. The separation has been difficult.
Perhaps this is precisely what I need. I am not pastor first. Before that, I am a father. And I have been neglecting my fatherhood.
Before being a father, I am a husband. I have been neglecting my responsibilities as spouse, as well.
But most importantly, before all, I am a child of God, redeemed by the Savior who “gave Himself up for me.” Can it be that as a Pastor, I had forgotten that most important of identities? How could I properly preach if my own understanding of my place in life had been forgotten and neglected? How could I neglect such a great salvation before those whom I was responsible to shepherd and lead?
I must admit that I am scared. Never before have I left a job without knowing where I was going next. I have not been without a job since college. I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t know where I am going to be. But in the midst of the fear and loss and emotional chaos, I hope I can once again find my identity in Christ, who loves me and gave himself up for me.
This Holy Week, may you find yourself in this Christ. For He loves you as much as me. And His sacrifice was as much for you as it was for me.