After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.
I’d like to name a few people, and although you may not recognize them all, see if you can spot a common denominator. Are you ready? Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Roxana Saberi. Winston Churchill. Anne Frank. Joan of Arc. Maximilian Kolbe. Abraham Lincoln. They were all people with strong convictions, prepared to go to jail and even to death, for the sake of what they believed in. I am sure you admire them.
I would like to add a name to this list. Yours. But first, let us look at another man with strong convictions. This man, of course, you know. He’s Jesus Christ. He came down to earth from his throne in heaven for one purpose — to save humankind; that’s us — and nothing made him deviate from his mission.
I have little doubt that at times he was tempted to give it up. Looking at our self-centeredness, our over inflated egos, our inability to understand simple lessons, our murderous nature (we read today about how the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him), our blatant disobedience, our sinfulness, must have made him think at least a few times —˜why bother dying for these wretched people? — but he resisted the temptation and stayed focussed.
Now, as Christians, we are required to be like Christ. So, the question is, how much like him are we? If we are truly followers of Christ, then his value system has to be ours. Do we have his values? Do we keep them? Are we passionate about our faith, willing to defend it and share it? Are we people of convictions, prepared to go to jail or die for what we believe - like those people we just spoke about?
These are serious questions, and in these days, when confronted by change like never before, questions that demand to be answered. God is looking for heroes in these days, and I really hope that he will find them in us. And if we make enemies, as we most certainly will when we stand up for what is right, let us pay heed to the words of Churchill who said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
What’s your name? Say it out aloud and tell God to count you in as a person of conviction.