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The Story of the Cactus

Cactus

Seeing Jesus’ obedience to God decreases my desire to disobey and encourages me to obey in all that God has called me to do. When I compare my daily choices to Christ’s, the Spirit helps me follow Christ on the path to obedience.

My kids beg me often to tell the story of the cactus. They love hearing about kid-sized Jeremy who was told that he couldn’t have a cactus from the neighborhood park. They always shake their head when I tell them I didn’t listen to my mom and tried to hide a cactus in my pocket without my mom knowing, but how foolish it really was in the long run. They cringe when I talk about having to pull each cactus needle out of my leg when we finally got home and how I could hardly walk because it hurt so bad. Putting a cactus in your pocket seems like a no-brainer—it’s a terrible choice. But I wanted that cactus so bad that I was willing to risk the consequences of disobedience to get what I couldn’t have.

At the end of that story, we always talk about how it’s better to obey because parents don’t want to keep good things from their children, but because we want them to have the most fun possible. Sometimes that means that we as parents have to take away something that will harm our kids.

Similarly, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they were tempted and convinced that God was just holding back the good stuff. In reality, he was trying to give them the most abundant life possible, but they didn’t understand.

Now I’m a grown man, and I still have to choose between obedience and disobedience daily. Some choices don’t seem to matter, though others have clear consequences. I am constantly reminded that I am not far from my kids in the choices I have to make, though I have more practice in seeing what my choices lead to.

Made perfect by obedience

As I consider my own obedience, I need to look to Jesus, who perfectly obeyed his Father. Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Before Christ came to earth, he was perfect. He arrived perfectly when he was born of a virgin. He didn’t sin once in his entire life. So how can someone who is perfect continually be made perfect?

Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, but he chose his Father’s will over his own. He could have prevented his arrest, but he chose peace over conflict. He could have stopped Pilate with just a word, but he chose silence rather than argument. In all this, the Holy Spirit was with him, empowering him and encouraging him in every step of obedience. In every action, Christ was made perfect by his obedience to his Father’s will.

We all obey something

When I learn from Spirit-empowered obedience in the Bible, my heart begins to line up with God’s will. I begin to understand why Jesus obeyed his Father and how I can obey too. I’m so grateful that Christ obeyed his Father through the whole plan—starting with the birth into a human body that would lead to suffering and pain. He kept obeying even though he was betrayed and killed by the people he came to save.

Seeing Jesus’ obedience to God decreases my desire to disobey and encourages me to obey in all that God has called me to do. When I compare my daily choices to Christ’s, the Spirit helps me follow Christ on the path to obedience.

The truth is, we all obey something. Sometimes we obey God, but other times we obey our own desires. Our gracious God wants us to choose to obey, because his ways are perfect, pure, and bring us the ultimate joy of being in the presence of our loving Father.