5 Circles of Commitment to God
April 7, 2017 Year A
As Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem, we see five different decreasing levels of commitment to God.
“When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.” (Matthew 21:1–2, HCSB)
Jesus has a commitment to follow God and His plan. He has a unique and complete commitment to God. This is the reason why He quotes Zechariah 9:9:
“This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Tell Daughter Zion, “Look, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”” (Matthew 21:4–5, HCSB)
As Christ is following His loving Father God with the ultimate level of commitment, He teaches that commitment to His disciples. The only way to follow God is to trust Christ. Therefore, in order for someone to come to God, they have to go through Jesus Christ.
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, HCSB)
A person who wants to commit to follow and trust God can only do so through Jesus. This is the reason why He is called King. This leads to the second circle of commitment to God – a Christian.
2. Christian (Disciple of Christ)
“When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples,” (Matthew 21:1, HCSB)
“If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”” (Matthew 21:3, HCSB)
Christians are called to follow Christ. Christians are disciples of Christ. This passage defines a level of commitment that requires faith. These disciples didn’t question Jesus. They had spent enough time with Him to know that if He said something, they should do it because He would provide.
A disciple trusts Jesus by faith. A Christian grows in their commitment as long as s/he is connected to Christ. However, a Christian must also be connected to a group of disciples – which Christ called the church.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18, HCSB)
3. Church (Core group of disciples)
“The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them.” (Matthew 21:6, HCSB)
The purpose of the church is directed by Jesus. He built the church. He defined its mission. Jesus called us as a group of disciples to make more disciples.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19–20, HCSB)
The commitment of the church is the sum of the commitments of each individual Christian and how they work together to fulfill His mission. This brings us to the crowd.
“A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:8–9, HCSB)
“And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”” (Matthew 21:11, HCSB)
The crowd is curious about Jesus. This crowd was interested in Jesus because of His miracles. They believed that He could restore the kingdom of Israel.
The crowd is not as committed as the church, the individual Christian or even Christ. They are interested in Him. They easily enter into a time of praise for Jesus. But following Jesus takes more than occasional praise and worship.
Yet, the Christian’s commitment requires that I pursue teaching and mentoring individuals from the crowd. The church reaches out to the crowd and builds goodwill with the crowd to draw individuals closer to the church. The reason is because the crowd contains many lost individuals who have overcome their individual fear of Christ. These lost individuals come together and collectively take an interest in Him.
As this text shows, there is a vastly differently attitude between the crowd and the community. The crowd shows interest. The community shows anxiety.
“When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?”” (Matthew 21:10, HCSB)
Jesus left Bethphage to go to the city. He goes from the neighborhood to the local community. Jesus’ presence makes the community anxious. The community as a whole, and the world, in general, don’t know what to think about Jesus. They fear Him because they don’t understand Him. As a result, they won’t understand the Christian as well. This is why sometimes people are hostile and upset at Christians and the church.
Christ leads the Christian closer to the community. Christ moves to the community. He expects the Christian to build more relationships that reveal Christ to them. Christ uses the church and the crowd to help the Christian reach the lost in the community.