By Mark Atteberry
Some of Jesus’ parables are epic in scope, like one about the prodigal son. Others are quite short, like this one about a farmer and his two sons:
“There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go” (Matthew 21:28-30).
The kingdom of God is hindered by people like this second son, who say yes to God, and then don’t follow through. They say yes to faithful obedience, then choose compromise as soon as obedience begins to cramp their style. They say yes to generous giving, then rob their weekly offering to pay for some new bauble that has captured their fancy. They say yes to compassionate ministry, then decide the work demands more time, energy, or patience than they are willing to give. On any given Sunday morning, how many people do you suppose are sleeping in, playing golf, or lounging with the morning paper, who once said an enthusiastic yes to Jesus?
Experts tell us the word yes is one of the easiest words in the English language to say, even easier than the word no, which requires more facial muscles. What those experts fail to point out is that while yes is an easy word to say, it’s an extremely difficult word to keep saying. Feelings change, obstacles arise, and strength wanes. The first thing you know, our minds are filled with excuses and rationalizations.
The great thing about the Lord’s Supper is that it gives us all an opportunity to reaffirm our yes to the Lord Jesus. We do it by reflecting on his willingness to say the hardest yes in history—yes to the cross. When seen through the lens of the crucifixion, our excuses suddenly seem a lot flimsier, making even our hardest yeses seem a lot easier.
The crying need of today’s church is not for us to say yes to Jesus, but for us to keep saying it, day after day, week after week, year after year.
Mark Atteberry serves as senior minister with Poinciana Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.