“I desire obedience rather than sacrifice” These are words of challenge to us this Good Friday when we pause to contemplate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
No one takes Jesus’ life he lays it down. In Gethsemane he chooses and continually affirms that choice. As the hymn asserts he is both priest and victim in the Eucharistic Feast. The whole drama of Good Friday is played out against the background of Passover. The idea of sacrifice is inescapable and yet it is the supreme obedience which is empowers the sacrifice.
The Christological hymn in Philippians chapter 2 tells of his obedience “even unto death” as the reason that God has raised him to the highest place. Obedience is little contemplated but oh so important in the Gospel story. The remedy for a disobedient humanity was the obedience of the one man Jesus, the Second Adam accomplishing what the first did not! In his opening to the Letter to the Romans Paul introduces the thought that he was writing to call them “to an obedience that comes from faith.”
In our culture we see obedience as doing what we don’t want to do. We even see it as punitive in a way. But obedience to One who supremely loves us cannot be to our harm. Obedience to God is not sacrifice but is much more likely to be a blessing! Christ was not obedient unto death solely to punch our ticket to Heaven but he was obedient so that we might be enabled to pick up our cross of obedience and follow him.
I am eternally grateful that on the cross Jesus has vanquished sin and death, that he has disarmed the powers and rescued us. He deserves my worship. He is the rightful object of my faith! James writes so clearly, echoing Paul’s thought, “Faith without works is dead.”
The world needs to hear of Sacrifice of Jesus but to really hear it they need to see the obedience of his Church. This will mean a faithfulness in proclamation, a proclamation that is given integrity by our active obedience. What does obedience look like? What does the Lord require? “To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
So I will ponder the sacrifice of Christ today and I will rededicate myself to following in obedience knowing that it is the good and blessed way.