By the Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler
Jesus’triumphal entryinto Jerusalem, followed by his weeping over the city and clearing the temple, sets the stage for the culmination of his ministry. Christians often wonder, “Did it have to happen this way?” and too often the response is, “Yes, it was all preordained!”
No, it was a drama of choices. As one catechism puts it, being created in God’s image “means that we are free to make choices.” God chose to come to us in Jesus. Jesus chose to be faithful, and others chose to oppose him. Crowds chose tolaud Jesus on a colt. Jesus chose to confront the temple marketplace, and the authorities chose to plot his demise. Jesus’ words as he wept over Jerusalem mean basically, “It did not have to come to this!”
“Where is God?” people often ask accusingly in thepoverty, wars, terrorism, and ecological crises of today’s world.“Right here, weeping over the world,” might be our answer. It does not have to be this way. Following Zaccheus, we can choose repentance and amendment of life. Following Jesus, we can work sacrificially forthe justice and peace of the Realm of God.
Psalm 61 stresses the choice of depending on God, certainly “when my heart is faint,” but also at all other times. Self-reliance is a virtue only as long as it is grounded in reliance on God, who all of us need to “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
The long recitation of laws in Deuteronomy concludes today with exhortations to offerfirst fruits and tithes in gratitude to God, both to support worship and help the marginalized. The covenant between Israel and God signified that Israel was God’s “treasured people” as they prepared to take possession of the land God was giving them.
What choices do you have in your life? How do you feel your choices are limited? Within your constraints, how might choosing Godchange the environment for your other choices?
If Israel was a “treasured people,” you must be a treasured person, treasured by God. Take that fact into your prayers and see if it makes a difference.
Loving God, you chose me long before I chose you, so I know you treasure me and cherish me. That’s often hard to believe. So I want to rest in you, and let your cherishing wash over me, that I may know deeply how I am a treasure to you, and be transformed. All this I pray through Jesus, your revelation of how you cherish us all. Amen.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler is Principal of Edwardes College, Peshawar, Pakistan.