Jesus made the hard choice — for us

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I was a little suspect when Larry suggested we trade bikes for the ride. But, I agreed, not giving it enough thought. It wasn’t until I began to pick up speed going downhill and had tapped on his brakes that I realized why he wanted to trade. The brakes didn’t work.

With a huge hill still before me, I began to panic. I imagined the path of the road ahead—a couple of bends before it ended at a “T” intersection with a busy road and stop light. And, on the other side of the intersection was a brick walled building. I was certain I was watching the scene of my death unfolding, killed either the car traffic or the wall. There had to be a solution, but what? Think, think, THINK!

At that moment I was coming upon a home with a large soft green grass yard. Any thoughts of laying the bike down onto the grass were met with indecisiveness because I might hurt myself. So I passed it by, believing there must be a better option. Yet, cement bulkheads along the sidewalks and my friends yelling confirmed that I’d made a poor choice. The yard was behind me, and nothing ahead except cement and an impending brick wall.

At the bottom of the hill I saw my last choice — ride into the intersection with traffic and the brick wall, or slide into a small, graveled parking lot. I choose the parking lot, where I skidded into a slide, laying the bike down. No one was more amazed than I as I picked myself up off the ground and walked away without a scratch. And, to answer that thought in your mind, no, I never traded bikes with Larry again. But I did forgive him.

Hard choices are made daily. Patients choose life-threatening elective surgeries. Parents demonstrate “tough love” to their wayward children, knowing the risk of severing that precious relationship. Jesus also made a hard choice for us. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Scripture further states that Jesus actually sweat blood from his pores, likely due to the stress he bore choosing the hard thing.

That is why it so amazes me every time I see Jesus’ three passion predictions in Mark’s gospel, in verses 8:31, 9:31 and 10:33. Each time, Jesus recognizes the direction the road is going. Each time he knew the end was the cross. Each time he expresses a little more vividly the agony he must go through for our sakes. And, each time he expresses that this is the way to victory over sin and death for all humankind. It amazes me that Jesus made that hard choice, knowing all the way down that road what would take place at the end.

Luke 9:51 in the New International Version of the Bible says, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” And, in the Message Bible, it reads, “When it came close to the time for his Ascension, he gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus knew what lay at the end of that road. It was a “T” intersection with a cross. He made that hard choice, going into that wall of pain, agony and death, that we may live.

The Rev. Steve Lyons is pastor of First Christian Church, 518 S. Main St. in Milton-Freewater. Email him at office@milton-freewatercc.com. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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