By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive.” – Matthew 16:21
Sometimes people must do things they don’t want to do. It’s not likely to be a long list. Line ‘em up. Ask the question… “What do you not want to do?” The answers come quickly. Eat spinach. Pay taxes. Take my medicine. Visit my in-laws. Change a diaper. Take that test. Die. I said it was a short list. Yet, we know for sure sooner or later we will succumb to ‘all of the above.’
In this passage from Matthew’s version of the Jesus story he recalls that Jesus readily volunteered to do what just about most of us would never consider… present oneself to local authorities, be tortured, suffer and die… for the sake of someone else. It was Jesus’ way of saying he was willing to submit to the will of the Father… and ‘the Father’ in this story is God the Father… Jesus’ father… Our father… the Creator of the Cosmos… the one who the self-interest of each and every one of us is at the top of the list! Jesus modelled submission… doing the very thing he didn’t need to do but the very thing the world needed.
I know a lot of Christians who have a difficult time with this word. Submit. It sounds sometimes downright hostile. Nations have attacked nations and beaten them into submission. Sometimes it’s just about dogs but it’s always about control. Even St. Paul encouraged the women in his day to submit themselves to their husbands despite the proviso that most men want to forget they, too, should go and do likewise and emulate the one who laid down his life for the church. We’ve linked this word to the feelings we have about “authority” and “control” especially when we perceive that someone else is trying to control us! In fact, we work overtime to not submit!
However, to be involved in submission is to take control of the situation yourself! This is what Jesus did and the message he provided by his actions was that submission comes out of one’s own self-image and self-discipline. Our understanding of Jesus’ humiliation and exultation is directly connected to his decision of submission. In fact, he took control by being out of control. The world was saved from sin because Jesus let go of control and submitted himself to the cross and all the pain and suffering that went with it! And as God would have it, sin and death had to get out of the way as the grace and love of God in Jesus prevailed!
I have an old pastor friend, Henry, who doesn’t like the word, submission, either. But, lately he and I agree that it is important work for anyone when it comes to our relationship with God and how we relate and react with each other as submission is the work of God initiated in Jesus for the world to claim as its own.
Here are a few questions to consider…
- What are the things you find yourself submitting to now? Who benefits?
- Is there a difference between how you see “submission” vs. “yield?” In your family? In people different than you? Around the world?
- Is your life one of submission to God’s will? How so? How not? What’s left?
Faith matters. Everyone believes in something!
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. You can follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Send comments and questions to [email protected].