This week’s short message by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch the video or read text below.
Jesus Christ was willing to die on the cross for his beliefs. What would you be willing to do for yours?
That’s a question we should ask ourselves every year as Holy Week approaches, and we call to remembrance the incredible courage Jesus demonstrated when he went to Jerusalem and challenged the religious, economic, and political establishment of his time and culture.
Jesus knew he was going to be executed as a heretic — he even told his disciples ahead of time to expect that. And it’s no wonder he did, because when they visited the capital city of Jerusalem for the great Jewish festival of Passover, along with throngs of pilgrims and tourists, Jesus entered the Temple and overturned the tables of the merchants who were selling animals for people to sacrifice.
Jesus didn’t believe that a just and merciful God wanted poor people to pay to have animals slaughtered at the Temple so that their sins could be forgiven. So he stood up against the whole system. But that system was the engine of Jerusalem’s economy and the prestige of the priesthood. No wonder, less than one week later, Jesus himself was slaughtered on a cross.
Jesus didn’t want to die. On the night of his arrest, he prayed fervently to God that “this cup be taken from me” [Matt. 26:39], and he even sweated blood, a sign of intense psychological distress [Luke 22:44]. But he bravely faced the consequences of his actions and set an example of heroic spiritual courage that many people have followed throughout history.
Today, we don’t have to die for our faith to do the right thing. We can be a living sacrifice, by taking up our cross each day and accepting the hardships that may come when we stand up for truth, justice, and human dignity against the corruption of the wealthy and the powerful. There are many ways to live a life of conscience like Christ, and when we do, we become spiritual heroes.