23 May, Sunday — When God draws a line in the sand

Pentecost

The Christian holiday of Pentecost is a moveable feast, which is celebrated on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) from Easter Sunday. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).

The holiday is also called ‘White Sunday’ or ‘Whitsunday’ or ‘Whitsun’, especially in the United Kingdom, where traditionally the next day, Whit Monday, was also a public holiday (since 1971 fixed by statute on the last Monday in May). The Monday after Pentecost is a legal holiday in many European countries.

  • Wikipedia

Acts 2:1-11
1 Cor 12:3-7,12-13
Jn 20:19-23

No one can say “Jesus is Lord” unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit

When Jesus walked into the Garden of Gethsemane that fateful Thursday night, he was at the ‘most human’ point of his being. He was in a state of agitation, terror, doubt, regret and cowardice, as he had never experienced before in his earthly existence. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said yes to my Father so quickly?”, “Is it too late to take it back?”. “How about I throw Peter under the bus instead?”, “I could perhaps just disappear quietly into the night and pretend none of this is happening.”, “Father, can you not find another way for me to do this? Is the cross the only way? How about you send Archangel Michael to just wipe them off the face of this earth and start again, let how you did that time with the flood? Can you not let this cup pass? Please let this cup pass!”. Jesus was at his ‘lowest point’ of being human. Desperately looking for a way out, to bypass the suffering of the cross, to make excuses, to turn and run away, to put the blame on someone and something else, to hang someone else on the cross, to break a promise, to betray a loved one. In that Garden, Jesus was showing the worst of humanity – he was being just like you and me.

When Jesus walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, He was no longer the same person. At the Garden, God the Father drew a line in the sand and asked Jesus to make His choice. And Jesus chose. He chose. It was the most agonizing decision He had to make. But he eventually did make it. And in doing so, Jesus chose God’s glory, God’s Will, the Father’s love for Him and His love for the Father, to cancel out everything that sin had done to us and to restore our likeness and image as God’s children. Jesus walked out of the Garden totally clear, totally committed and totally in-charge of continuing and completing His mission — of choosing to save us instead of saving Himself.

The Sanhedrin, Pilate, the Roman soldiers, Barabbas, his cowardly apostles, the Jewish lynch mob, the Devil – they thought they had the final laugh. They thought they had put Jesus on trial and proven their case against Him. They thought they had finally gotten rid of this self-righteous, blaspheming, audacious, inconvenient threat to their existence, their power, their lie. They thought their power, their money, their manipulation and their hypocrisy had won them the day. They did not realize they were the ones that had proven themselves guilty of betraying their own fears, their own values and principles, their own God. They chose to stand on the side of the devil.  

It was and is, this same Spirit which allowed that bunch of cowardly, weak, inept and despairing individuals in the Upper Room to leave that room courageous, focused, unwavering, indomitable. Like Jesus after the agony in the Garden, the Apostles — after their own agony in the Upper Room — emerged victorious. They too, were transformed. Not by human effort, but by the divine power and grace of the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus, they too chose to stand on the same side as God the Father. They too, came to realize and fully embrace the unspeakable and incomprehensible love of the Father for them. And having finally understood that love, they too, were able to choose to save us, rather than to save themselves.

When God draws a line in the sand, on which side of it will you stand? We are all given two eyes – one to look up towards heaven, the other one to look down upon the path we walk on this earth. And when you come to the many lines that God has drawn in the sandy path of your own earthly journey, which side of the line will you choose to stand on? When it comes to choosing between God and the folly and stupidity of this sinful world, the only advice I can give you is this – choose wisely.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. Save us with your most holy presence from a world and from ourselves, so sinful and indifferent to sin. Save us from our egoism and from retreating into ourselves, from the severity in our judgments and our attitudes. From our inconstancies and infidelities. From all our fragility and weaknesses. We are weak, and in need of your strength and grace.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for helping find ourselves again in You. For allowing Your truth to penetrate us in all our misery, brokenness and emptiness. For allowing us to discover your presence in us.

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