I must. These two words are perhaps the two most significant words that ever rolled off of the lips of our Lord. In these two words we find the reason why Jesus left his glories in heaven to come and dwell in this low and loathsome land. I must.
In these two words we find the reason why Jesus endured the shame of the cross and the pain of death. I must. Thanks be to God, Jesus said, I must.
We often remember the powerful words of our dear Lord, but we seldom think about the I must statements of Jesus. But, in no less than four places in the Gospel of Luke alone, Jesus speaks of the divine necessities that marked his life. In Luke 2:49, Jesus says, I must be about my fatherís business. In Luke 4:43 Jesus says, I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.
In Luke 9:22 Jesus says that he must undergo great sufferings, be rejected and killed. And here in Luke 13:33, Jesus says that he must be going forward. Yes, we remember so much of what Jesus said. But, we seldom remember those two words that have no equal. I must!
Perhaps we fail to ponder the I must statements of Jesus because when we consider that Jesus, the Son of the living God, when we consider the fact that for Jesus, there were some things that he had to do, we are confronted with the fact that if we really belong to him, there are some things we too must do! We are afraid of the divine necessities required for the child of God. But, the life of Jesus was a life of I must.
Here in our text in Luke, after having turned the world upside right, after having served notice to Satan that his free reign of terror was coming to an end, after having come to redeem a lost and sin-sick world, Jesus now prepares for his journey to Jerusalem. I must be going to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was the destiny and the destination of Jesus. Jerusalem was the place that would signify that the work that Jesus set out to do was done. He wasnít quitting. He wasnít giving up. No, he was finishing the work he was sent to do. Jerusalem was the final destination. It was his destiny to finish his work there in Jerusalem.
There is a Jerusalem for all the sons and daughters of God. We will all arrive at the place where our labors are over and our rest has come. There is a Jerusalem for all who are faithful to God. It is our destiny to finally be able to say, I have ran a good race. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have made it to Jerusalem.
Jesus was nearing his journeyís end. And even in this, Jesus was still teaching us about life. In the shadow of his Jerusalem, Jesus was teaching us three important things about our journey to Jerusalem that we must do.
First we must accept the hardships, the dangers and burdens of our divinely appointed life. Secondly, we must do the work of him who saved us and sent us. Lastly, if we live a life guided by an I must attitude, we will surrender our lives into the hands of God almighty.
Jesus reminds us that there were some things he simply had to do. In the final analysis, there were no options if he was the Son of God. There were no multiple choice selections if he was to live a life of obedience to the Father.
And, so it is for you and me. If we long to make heaven our home, if it is our hearts desire and sincere prayer to live a life pleasing in the sight of God, then, our lives will be filled with the words, I must.
I believe I can hear a well-meaning crowd that didnít understand what it means to live a life of I must. I can hear them crying out to our savior. Jesus, go back now. You have done all you can do. Jesus, turn back now. Herod is out to kill you. Nobody is going to think any less of you if you abort your mission. Jesus, you got a family to look after. You have a bright career ahead of you. Donít blow it all now. Just go along to get along Jesus.
Go on Jesus, turn back now. Herod, that mighty man of war, Herod, the powerful potentate of Palestine, Herod, that well-armed cruel king of Canaan land, Herod is gunning for you Jesus. And, if you know what we know, you will either get out of town quicker than immediately or you will at least hush your mouth, stop your work and just fit-in with everybody else.
For those of this world, there would have been serious consideration given to the warnings of the Pharisees. To those who are not looking for a building from God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, for those who are not looking for a city whose builder and maker is God, they would have surely taken the Pharisees advice.
But, we see that for Jesus, this was not an option. I must accept the dangers that come with serving my God. I must accept the wrath of Satan and an evil world. I must bear the burdens that will come to everyone who is serious about their walk with God.
Surely, in this world we will be lied about. We will be talked about. Family and so-called friends alike will plot and plan our destruction. In this world, the child of God ought to just expect some trials and some troubles.
We can never reach Jerusalem. We can never finish the work God has assigned to us without having to endure some valleys low and mountains high. The Lord said that in this world, you will have tribulations. The Lord said that if the world hated and rejected and despised him, surely the same will be the case for all who follow him.
As I have often said, if everybody likes what we are saying, I bet we arenít saying very much worth much. If everybody loves what we are doing, I dare say that we must not be doing much of anything worth anything.
Woe unto us if all people speak well of us. Woe unto us if everything is always going our way. Woe be unto us if we never encounter any Herodís plotting and planning against us. If we never encounter any Herodís, maybe itís because we are too close and cozy and comfortable with Herod, with those who do not love our Jesus. You will and I will have some troubles when we have the I must attitude of Jesus.
Nevertheless, we must never let what other folk say about us stop us from doing the will of God. We must never let what others think of us stop us from doing what is right and pleasing in the sight of God.
We must do the work of him who saved us and blessed us. We who have been blessed must be a blessing. We who have been helped must help somebody. We who have found the love of God, must love the unlovable and even the ungodly.
Is it hard? You know it is! Is it inconvenient sometimes? You know it is! Is it foolish sometimes and hurtful sometimes and futile sometimes? Oh, you know it is!
But, still we must do it anyhow. It was for this very reason that Jesus put on the robe of flesh and left eternity; and, it is for this that we have been called and equipped. There is no room in Godís kingdom for bench-warming Christians. See our Jesus working for the master.
Herod, you old fox, I donít care how mad you are. I got some work to do. I donít care who you think you are. In fact, I donít care who you really might be. You see, I got my marching orders from on high.
I got some work to do. Yes, folk are telling me to play it cool. Yes, folk are telling me I better watch what I do and what I say because you donít like it. But, I know that I know that you donít have a heaven or a hell to put me in, so Iím going to serve my father.
Herod, I must be busy serving my God. Herod, I must do the will of him who sent me. You want to know why I do what I do? I must! Why do I love the way I do? I must! Why do I serve, why do I work, why do I heal, why do I do the things I do? Simply because I must.
We who want to make heaven our home, we who want to know the peace and the power of God in the present, we know that there are some divine obligations, there are some expectations that we must fulfill.
If we really belong to God, then we are resident aliens here on earth. This old world is not our eternal resting place. We are on our journey home. We are homeward bound.
But, we can only make it there if we have done what God done told us to do. There are some tasks, there are some obligations, there is some work that we must do. We can never make heaven our home until we have learned to live an I must kind of life.
Child of God, forget about having your own way. Saints of the most high God, forget about being in control of your life and your time. You belong to God now. You have been bought with a price. You and I are no longer free agents. Our lives are under new management.
Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus. Let this mind be in you that compelled Jesus to say in the face of hardships, I must. Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus that enabled him to face inconveniences and fears and trials and still declare, I must.
I wish to God that the people of God, from the pulpit to the back pew, I wish that the people of God would be overtaken by the spirit of Jesus that cried out, I must.
In our freedom as human beings we can in fact, opt out of bible study if we want to. We can choose not to take seriously our commitments of time, talent and treasure. But, this shall not be our manner of living when the spirit of Jesus is really in control of our lives.
It matters not what our lips say. It matters most what our actions display! Who is in control of our lives? Are we, or is God? Have we yielded unto God? Have we surrendered our whole lives unto him who died so that we might live? Have we surrendered unto him who came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly?
If we are really committed to Jesus, options will be irrelevant. If we are really serious about wanting to have a closer walk with the Lord, choices will become insignificant.
For in seeking to live so that God can use us anytime and anywhere, we will not weigh the options and pick-and-choose, we will simply declare, ďI must.Ē Whatever the cost, ďI must.Ē Whatever the burden, whatever the pain, whatever the cost, ďI must do the will of him who sent me and saved me.
I know that difficulties await me, but I must. I know it would be easier for me to just stay home and relax instead of going out to one more meeting, one more rehearsal, one more service, but I am a child of the king and I must, I must be going!
Finally, the soul that lives by the I must attitude of Jesus, will come to trust the God who saw our Jesus through. As long as we are making bargains with God, as long as we are halting and staggering and stumbling between serving God and serving false Gods, as long as we ignore the I must mind of Jesus, we will never know what it is to trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
But, when we learn to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and when we stop leaning to our own understanding, it is then that God will do for us what we could never do for ourselves. When God is in full control of our lives, it is then that God will see us through.
He will see us through the pain of death. He will see us through the uncertainty of unemployment. He will see us through the shame of sin. He will see us through the hurt of broken marriages. When we yield unto God, he will put us back together when life breaks us apart. He will give us power when sorrows sap our strength.
And, when we are leaning and depending on the Lord, death gives way to life, pain gives way to peace and power. When we are really in Jesus and Jesus is really in us, there will be joy even in the midst of the worst that life has to offer.
And, thanks be to God, the power of God will send forth some veto power to cancel out the finality of death. The power of God will send forth some veto power canceling out the plans and pains of a wicked world. When our lives are under the power and the direction of God, then God will see us through whatever we face in life.
And, this is the testimony of our Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. Jesus pressed on to Jerusalem because he had an assignment for the father that had to be done. Jesus pressed on to Jerusalem for that was his destiny and his destination. And, in Jerusalem, Jesus did in fact meet death. But, God was still watching and directing. Jesus was dead, but God was still alive.
Jesus was not in some kind of a coma or deep sleep. Oh no. They hung him high, stretched him wide and he hung his head and then he died. He was dead, dead, dead. Rome and Pilate and Herod and Satan, they all thought that Calvary signaled the end of the work of Jesus.
But, somebody should have told them that evil canít keep the work of God from going forward. Somebody should have told them that wrong will never fully conquer right. Somebody should have told them that the devil can never really destroy a child of God. Somebody should have told them something!
But, they just didnít understand the ways of God. Death and a grave only looks like the end, but there is always more to reality than meets the eye. The workers of evil thought that Calvary finally put an end to goodness. They thought the cross finally put an end to love and mercy.
Down around 6 am one Friday morning, there was a great celebration going on in the depths of hell. Satan and his angels ordered a case of the finest champaign. They called in the best chef money could buy. They brought down the best dj around because there was cause for celebration. Jesus was hung on a cross. God was finally outsmarted and overpowered. Jesus was hung on a cross.
Noontime came, the sun refused to shed any more light on so sad a spectacle as the Son of God dangling between a doomed earth and a weeping heaven. But, there was a party going on in hell. They partied all day Friday. They jammed all day Saturday. They kept on partying, non-stop.
But, early Sunday morning, there was a tap on the doors of hell. And when Satan opened up the doors of hell, he saw my Jesus standing there. He saw my Jesus alive and kicking. He saw my Jesus with all power in his hands.
Satan couldnít understand what was going on, but Jesus didnít have time to explain too much to the old devil. He just told him. Oh, Satan, somebody should have told you that I got a Father that refused to let me stay in the grave.
I got a Father who refused to let burdens beat me and troubles triumph over me. Iím sorry to ruin your party Satan, but itís over. Death has been swallowed up in victory. The grave has no sting. The cross has no shame, but it has only salvation now.
Satan, I would love to stay and chat with you, but, I must, I must, I must be going now. I must still be about my Fatherís business. I must be about redeeming those you thought you had. I must be about comforting the hurting. I must be about healing the sick. I must give power to the fainthearted. I must give strength to the weak. I must be about my Fatherís business.
Seeing then that he who was once dead is alive forever more, seeing then that Jesus is alive in the world and in our lives, we ought not reject so great a salvation. Seeing then that God is still on the throne, we dare not live life as we used to.
We dare not live life as those who know not the Lord our God. But, this is the day that we must do the will of him who saved us. This is the day that we must serve the Lord with our whole hearts.
This is the day that we must move from the sidelines of insincere faith to the frontlines of serious service for our Savior. This is the day that we must leave the closet and be open about our relationship with the king of the universe.
And, if we have done what we must do, when life is finally over, when troubles are no more and sorrow at last has passed, if we have done what we must do for the Lord, there will be life eternal and joy everlasting.
But, even right now, if we have the mind of Christ, that mind of I must then even right now, there will be strength sufficient for todayís struggles. There will be power sufficient for todayís problems and there will be grace sufficient for todayís grief and strife.
These blessings, and ten thousand besides are ours if we have a made up mind to do what God would have us to do. Face now your fears saying, still I must do what God wants me to do. Face now your trials saying, still I must do what God has called me to do.
Face now an uncertain future declaring, still I must do what the Lord demands of me. If I go alone, still I must go. If no one joins me, still I must go on. Though no one understands me, still I must do the will of my Father. For, I have decided, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.
Rev. Clarence W. Davis is pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A frequent contributor to BlackandChristian.com, Davis earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity School. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.