When it comes to commitment my teenage years come to mind. I was born with a disability and in high school I had a fear of embarrassment and social anxiety because my disability made me feel different. Instead of overcoming my fears, I put up a wall around me. I talked to very few people and put very little effort to do into anything but maintaining my wall. This also included little effort in my schoolwork and eventually I ended up dropping out and getting my GED.
Flash forward to today where just a few months ago I finished graduate school with a 4.0. It’s a huge contrast and the defining aspect that made all the difference was commitment. Some might look at it and say I wasn’t committed in high school and in college I was committed. But looking back on it I would say in both situations I was committed. The difference is what I was committed to. In high school, I was committed to maintaining the wall I had put up. In college, I became committed to my schoolwork and the calling to ministry God had in my life. I still had a small wall but I wasn’t as committed to maintaining it anymore.
I believe we are all committed to something. Commitment never ceases to exist. It just changes. You will be committed to something. Weather it’s yourself, God, materialism, popularity, a wall you’ve put up etc.
I’ve been reading and re-reading the last supper story. I’ve been tasked with leading a communion service for the youth at our church family camp this year with the over-arching camp theme being ‘committed’. When I look at the story of the last supper, I see three different commitments. We see commitment to self in Judas. We see a commitment in words but not actions from the disciples and finally we see God’s commitment to bring salvation to His people in Jesus
“And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”” Matthew 26:17-25
To say Judas was not committed to Jesus is only have the equation. We also have to ask what he was committed to. Remember, commitment doesn’t go away. We are all committed to something. Even Judas.
Like the other disciples he gave up his job and plans to follow Christ. He may have thought like many at the time that Jesus was going to lead a revolution to overthrow the Roman government and when that didn’t happen he became bitter. He gave Jesus his life but not his heart. His heart was only focused on what he could get out of it and that led to his self-destruction. When he thought Jesus was leading a rebellion he was willing to give him all. When he found out Jesus’ message was about love and sacrifice his commitment changed.
We live in a culture that encourages us to have a commitment like Judas; A commitment to your own glory. Society says you don’t have to be committed to anyone but yourself; just look at divorce rates. The world says to us be committed to your glory, your happiness or it might tell you it’s okay to be half-committed; to go to church every now and then, praying couple times a week etc. is ok but it would be crazy to tithe, fast or actually evangelize others. This is a commitment of words but not actions.
The picture of Jesus spending time with His disciples is a portrait of His commitment to them but were His disciples fully committed to Him? We know from history that all of Jesus’ disciples (sans John and Judas) were martyred for their faith, a testimony to their commitment to fulfill the great commission and have the gospel spread to the ends of the earth. From the book of Acts on we have amazing examples of full-commitment. But it wasn’t always that way.
Just after The Last Supper Peter and Jesus have a conversation:
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26: 31-35
We usually think about Peter and his failing commitment to Jesus but notice in word, all of the disciples said they would be fully committed to Jesus. Yet when it came down to acting on that commitment, they all failed. The disciples fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus was declaring his commitment through prayer, they scattered when Jesus was arrested and even Peter denied Jesus three times as Jesus foretold.Their commitment level at the time was lukewarm and the Bible tells us in a verse I’m sure you’ve heard before that God does not want us to be lukewarm.
Finally, The Last Supper or Communion is our way of remembering what Jesus did on the cross for us. He was committed to saving His people from sin. The connection with it to the Passover is symbolic of His commitment to His people from the very beginning. The plan was and has always been to save them with the blood of the lamb. This time the lamb would be Jesus himself. The very fact that after this final Passover meal he went to the cross instead of calling upon His angels to save Him shows that he was committed to being obedient to God’s will instead of His own personal desires, a struggle we know existed because He was both fully man and fully God. But he overcame.
Philippians 2 tells us to learn from His example.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
You are committed to something. The question is what? Where does your commitment lie? I want to encourage you as I will the teens at camp, to seriously ask this question now and every time before you take communion.The Bible tells us to examine ourselves before taking communion. (1 Co 11:28). We are encouraged to examine ourselves and to ask ‘where do my commitments lie?’ Have I given everything to Jesus? Have I given nothing? Or have only given a little bit? May you partake in communion as a symbol of your full commitment to the one who is completely committed to you.