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The Courageous Christ

 

Courage is defined as “the ability to control fear and to be willing to deal with and face something that is dangerous, difficult or unpleasant.” Another source defines courage as “the quality of being brave: the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”

This certainly describes Jesus Christ, especially during Holy Week as he faced the brutality of the Roman form of execution on a wooden cross. We often use words like unconditional love, amazing grace, and self-sacrifice to describe Jesus. These are very accurate phrases to explain his compassion for us and for everyone in the world; however, we do not normally hear the word courageous to characterize Jesus and the incredible bravery he showed as carried out his mission undaunted by the opposition and the punishment he faced.

Right now, we have another excellent and relevant example of courage. Volodymyr

Zelensky, the current President of Ukraine, has shown incredible bravery as he leads the people of Ukraine in a war against Russia. Russia is a world superpower led by Vladimir Putin who apparently seeks to rebuild the former Soviet Union by attacking and acquiring former Soviet countries who are now independent and sovereign nations. Russia’s military is much larger than Ukraine’s: Russia has 900,000 active military vs Ukraine’s 200,000. Ukraine has 146 attack aircraft vs Russia’s 1,328. Russia has 31,000 tanks and armored vehicles vs Ukraine’s 5,000. Regarding the Naval fleets- Russia has 605 vessels vs the 38 ships of Ukraine. And, worst of all, Russia has 4,477 nuclear weapons and Ukraine has zero.

When Ukraine, a peaceful and sovereign nation, was attacked by Russia, President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine faced overwhelming odds. In the beginning of this unprovoked attack, almost all of the political and military experts thought the Russians would overtake Ukraine in a matter of days with a far larger and superior military force. Russian military and political leaders also assumed they would win this fight very quickly. Under Zelensky’s leadership, the Ukrainian people are fighting bravely against their attackers. As of the writing off this article, many weeks into the conflict, some experts are even saying the Ukrainians could actually win this war. They have for sure put up a valiant fight even if they are not victorious against this evil force.

Without a doubt the Russians greatly underestimated the courage of President Zelensky who has inspired the Ukrainian people to stand and fight for their country. In fact, the courageous Zelensky has challenged and motivated millions around the world to support their fight to defend themselves against the Russians as he has addressed the masses via television and social media on most media outlets around the world. As he is being hunted down by the Russians, he has given speeches while wearing army fatigues in the midst of war-torn Ukraine to the US Congress and Senate, the Canadian Parliament, the British Parliament as well as to most of the nations of Europe and other countries around the world.

When the Russians first attacked Ukraine with a huge force of their military which had massed on the Northern, Eastern and Southern borders, the United States offered to send in aircraft and escort him and his family to safety outside of Ukraine. Zelensky famously gave them this courageous response, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.” What incredible courage it takes to stay and fight for your cause in the face of certain danger!

Jesus revealed his amazing courage when he predicted his own suffering and death in Luke 9: 21-22. “And he (Jesus) said, ‘the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief Priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised from the dead.’”

Later in the same chapter we see in verse 51 (the NIV version) it says, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” I especially like the Message version of this verse which puts it this way, “Jesus gathered up his courage and steeled himself for journey to Jerusalem.” Of course, it was on this his last trip to Jerusalem, during what we now call Holy Week, that he would be arrested, put on trial, tortured, and crucified on a cross.

Jesus is in fact the very epitome of courage as it was defined above … “the quality of being brave: the ability to face danger, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”

In my opinion, the events of Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter prove that Jesus is the most courageous person who ever lived. He knew the excruciating pain of the cross awaited him, yet he ventured onward to Jerusalem to face his certain death. It seemed as if all the evil powers in the world had the advantage over him, but through Jesus’ courageous act of facing the cross, he overcame darkness, sin, and death!

I hope you will choose to remember the courage of Jesus in the events of Holy Week this year (April 10-17), and I encourage you to attend the church of your choice for Easter as we celebrate the Resurrection of the Courageous Christ!

His bravery allows us to experience forgiveness of our sins and salvation through his death on the cross. His resurrection empowers us to live courageous lives in Christ!

 

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