Summary: When Jesus rode into Jerusalem with all the crowds following Him, he was giving them the opportunity to make a decision. And the decision was simple. Would they submit their lives to Jesus? Would they choose to follow Him?
“The Key to Getting God’s Attention"
The Bible tells us that at the beginning of what we now refer to as holy week or the week of passion that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and that the crowds were following Him. At that point He was easily the most popular man on the planet. He had healed the sick, fed the 500 and had even raised the dead. Everyone seemed to love Him. So they laid out their palm branches, like a red carpet for Him to ride in on. 5 days later they crucified Him. You have to ask what in the world happened in those 5 days?
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem with all the crowds following Him, he was giving them the opportunity to make a decision. And the decision was simple. Would they submit their lives to Jesus? Would they choose to follow Him? Some chose to follow Him. Some rejected Him. In many ways this same scene is played out in our lives as well. Jesus comes in our direction. And we want all the good from Him. We want to be blessed, we want to be healed…we want all the blessings but what we don’t want is the commitment and the last things we want is to have to submit to anyone. (v.7).
The word submit in scripture is a very interesting word. It comes from a military word and we also get the root word hypno from this as we get the word hypnotize. Now don’t take that too far but what it does mean is to allow ourselves to come under God’s control. Submission is a difficult thing.
When I was a kid we would go watch live wrestling on Tuesday nights. Our scout troop got in free. Free was always good. So we would go to the wrestling matches on Tuesday nights. Or “wrassling” matches as we called them in Arkansas. One night one of the wrestlers fought with an alligator. The alligator hardly moved. I think he was actually sedated. I think I could have taken him. But I remember one of the wrestling moves was called the submission hold. And it would basically involve one of the wrestlers grabbing someone right in the stomach and then squeezing them with both hands until they gave up; until they submitted. And how they would submit would be by pounding that mat. They were saying, I give up. I submit.
I believe this is the biggest obstacle we face when we are considering becoming a follower of Jesus. This is the hardest part. We want all the benefits but we still want to be in control. We want everything God has to offer without any of the responsibility. We want Jesus in our lives; we just don’t want Him to be in charge. And so this brings tremendous conflict into our lives. The apostle Paul explains it this way…Galatians 5:17. Romans 7:15-20. (LB) What Paul and James both are telling us is that there is a war/battle raging in our lives over this issue. A war over who will be in control of our lives. And as a result we have no peace. Peace and war/battle cannot coexist. There is either one or the other. James gives us at least 3 truths to consider here.
1. (James tells us) there is a spiritual conflict going on inside of us and the source of the conflict is selfishness. Vv. 1-3a. It is when we view pleasure as our primary goal in life. Listen again to the words James uses here…fights, quarrels, battles, killing. You see war is going inside of us. God wants control and you want control and the problem is our selfishness. We want God in our lives but we’re really afraid we may have to give something up and we much rather keep that “something” than have God. James says that the people who live in like this don’t pray or if they do pray their prayers are selfish. James said in chapter 1 that kind of man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.
2nd. (James tells us) the result of this conflict (he has been describing) is rebellion. Resistance to God’s will leads to outright rebellion. Even if it destroys us we are determined to have our way. And so we are much like someone who has two lovers. We are trying to love one when we are made for the other. We’re trying to love the world when we were made for God.
Basketball star Dennis Rodman visited a NY bookstore a few years ago to sign copies of his new book. In walked Rodman, 6’8” talls, decked out…well look, a wedding gown. He lifted his veil to show off his blond wig, 2 nose rings and full makeup. Now you would think that would turn people off but thousands of people lined up to get his autograph. The name of his book? “Bad as I wanna be.” There is a trend you see to make heroes out of people who are known for being bad. Even if it destroys you, you’re still popular. Sports figures cheat, Pete Rose even bet against his own team, Alex Rodriguez clearlt used steroids and wasn’t the first and the public falls in love with them. God will allow you to be as bad as you wanna be but there will still be consequences that you and I will face.