The Incarnation of All In by Sonny Holmes, D.Min., Retired Pastor

March 7, 2016

It’s a gambling term that gives me pause every time I hear or speak it. But, “all in” is the buzz phrase for passion today. It’s confidence in the strength of your cards to the point of risking everything. Using poker table language as a metaphor of faith commitment troubles me greatly. But, it is what it is. Younger colleagues and their cohorts understand the idea of “all in” beyond Texas Hold ‘Em. In cultural dialect it is total commitment to something, resulting in purposeful, intentional action.

Jesus is the incarnation of all in intentionality. The Gospels record his absolute submission to the Father’s work and the intentional way he went about it. Luke’s orderly account of his life uniquely annotates the intent and purpose in his fulfillment of the Father’s assignment. Let me quickly illustrate his movements toward an appointment in Jerusalem—

  • And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Luke 9:30-31, ESV
  • When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51, ESV
  • Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. Luke 10:38, ESV
  • He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Luke 13:22, ESV
  • Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. Luke 13:33, ESV
  • On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:11, ESV
  • And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. Luke 18:31, ESV
  • And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Luke 19:28, ESV
  • And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it. Luke 19:41, ESV

The focal point of those nine verses is the intentionality of our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem. There were distractions, interruptions, people to see, heal, and teach, miracles to perform, and opposition along the way. But, each verse amplifies the truth that Jerusalem was his destination and nothing could keep him from it. He was all in. Resolute. Intent. Purposeful.

Healthy churches and church leaders are intent on their mission. They have a concise, very specific mission statement, and Bible verses to support it. Every leader should have a life verse, ministry verse, and passion verse that are visible reminders of their mission. If that mission statement doesn’t energize and motivate the leaders or church, it should be discarded, replaced by words that inspire the commitment necessary to pursue it with passion.

Jesus announced his mission many times and in many ways. John wrote it this way, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV). That work was finished in Jerusalem, and he intently and purposefully traveled there.

Danish theologian/philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote about his nineteenth century culture: “This generation will perish not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of passion.” Call it what you will—intentionality, passion, even all in. Jesus was the incarnation of it.

Learn from Peter. He wrote, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21, ESV).

The incarnation of all in.

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