The First Crusader (194-195/365)

“…Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;

maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,

they walk about in darkness;

all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Psalms 82:3-5

The 2005 movie Kingdom of Heaven has found its way to my heart. Normally I would delete any movie I watched once if it didn’t really catch my fancy, but so far Kingdom of Heaven is one movie that deserves to take some space on one of my external hard drives.

Without spoiling too much, the movie centers around a blacksmith named Balian, who discovers that his father was a knight who owned land in Jerusalem. When his father (played by the awesome Liam Neeson, by the way) was at the last moments of his life, he made it a point to pass his title onto Balian, in a ceremony where knights and priests were present. Balian knelt as his father was barely standing, and he told him these words:

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.

Be brave and upright that God may love thee.

Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.

Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.

That is your oath.

He then proceeds to take his ring off. He gives it to Balian, and before Balian could even look at the details of the said ring, the side of his face is greeted with his father’s backhand, telling him:

And that’s so you remember it.

This dialogue is what came into mind when I was reading the verses stated, from Psalm 82. But while I certainly love the lines given to Balian, I find more inspiration, more motivation from God’s words – that’s right, if you read the rest of the Psalm, you’ll find that the writer, Asaph, was describing God presiding over divine council, apparently with lesser gods, and He was telling them these words (well, those within quotes, anyway).

I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if a priest or monk from the medieval ages took those words and charged the knights whom he ministered to with those words. To anyone who fancies himself a knight, it serves as a reminder to see people and things the right way.

What do I mean? Well, we are reminded, through this verse, that we ought to ‘give justice’ to the ‘weak and fatherless’, instead of what the rest of the world would have us do – that is, to take advantage of them. We are called to maintain, or stand for the ‘right(s) of the afflicted and the destitute’ – that is, we ought to recognize them as fellow humans, only afflicted with circumstances and made destitute by the merciless assaults of this sin-ravaged reality. This is what we ought to be doing, versus seeing them not as humans, but as commodities, or ultimately subhuman.

Finally, we should ‘rescue the weak and the needy’; we would do well to deliver them ‘from the hand of the wicked’, instead of merely letting the world take them over, and lay claim over their existence.

Notice that I didn’t mention knights – the thing is, you don’t need to be clad in metal armor, nor do you need to be lesser gods in order for you to give justice to the weak and fatherless, to stand for the rights of the afflicted and destitute, and so on and so forth.

Friends, on the other hand, Christ was the one who saw us as weak, fatherless, afflicted, destitute and needy. Before the idea of us came into existence, Jesus Christ already saw how sin would ravage each and every one of us, as locusts literally stripping anything and everything of value wherever their swarm moves. He saw how sin has literally rendered us worthless… But would you look at that. By His finished work He fulfilled what God charged to lesser gods in the divine council.

Friends, through Christ and His birth, death, resurrection and ascension, I dare share that He has given justice to us. Because He humbled Himself to the point of getting nailed to the cross, He was actually standing in the place of the afflicted and the destitute. Finally, He became sin, and we became His righteousness – Here’s another way to see how He has rescued us from the hand of the wicked – Yes, these same wicked who are described as having neither knowledge nor understanding; These same wicked people who are not in the Light, walking about in darkness.

But can I go a bit further? I will dare to. I believe He went even as far as fulfilling what Balian’s oath! For indeed, even being beaten and whipped to the point of being unrecognizable, and being mocked and ridiculed by the entire world as He hung on the cross, He denied everyone who was watching – those seen, and unseen – the satisfaction of His writing in pain, or crying out in anguish, or cowering in fear. Even in His lowest of moments, He was without fear in the face of His enemies, who were also our enemies.

And I’ll twist it a little here – I believe He was this fearless, and He was brave and upright – and was He doing it for God (who is His Father and Our Father in Heaven) to love Him? No, He was brave in the face of backbreaking fear, and He was upright in the face of overwhelming temptation… NOT because He wanted God to love Him, but because He was fully aware; He KNEW God loves Him.

He spoke the truth, and though He gave us an example of what it means to speak with grace, it did not stop the jealous Pharisees from plotting His death, even in the earlier days of His ministry.

Finally, because the finished work of Christ certainly has its implications beyond the borders of space, and beyond the beginning and end of time, we may be without help – and even if we know that our being compromised may at times be with our awareness and intention, we know that ultimately, we are safe – for the One who is able to send our bodies AND our souls to hell is absolutely FOR us and never AGAINST us. It’s ALL because of the only begotten Son of God, who is Jesus Christ! Friends, He did no wrong, but He didn’t necessarily do RIGHT – and I dare say this because what He did ushered in something entirely superior – Because of what He did, we have been made righteous, and righteous unto life – No, ETERNAL Life.

It’s because of this that we sing, and we dance, shouting out loud… Halleluyah!

We join all of Israel, just as they were shouting out, laying palms and coats in the path of Messiah – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

At this point I could end this, but I wanted to share something else on my mind, something I think I should repent (that is, to change my mind) about.

For the longest time I fancied myself as any other man would – that is, to be a ‘knight in shining armor’. Just being honest here, giving to people in need and hearing them thanking me does give me an ego boost of sorts, but I soon check myself. That’s one thing I’ve learned in terms of humility – it’s in these moments when you are thanked that you have the opportunity to tell them (and yourself, indirectly) that you’re only able to help because Christ has helped you first.

But apparently I forgot to notice how being a knight in shining armor was a mere concept – and as all concepts go, they do have their good sides, but they also have their bad effects. It took someone else’s tweet to reveal to me that people who fancy themselves as knights in shining armor may have the tendency to really be cowards preying on the weak.

And as I’m writing about it, it’s all about intention. I’ve been asking myself recently, why have I been helping people? Sure, it’s all because Christ helped me, and I know this as the absolute Truth – but sometimes the flawed, old way of thinking tries to come in between my heart made new with Christ’s finished work, and the actual words and actions I do to help. What I’m saying is sometimes I don’t help to help, but there remains the intention to help to be recognized, and to receive reciprocation according to my expectations, to put it nicely.

If I was to elaborate further, let’s just say that the knight helps to help, but the opportunist helps himself in the helping, and that doesn’t make it help at all.

It is in these moments that I am reminded that if there is a question about my motives in helping anyone and everyone, in specific moments and/or in general, then I would do well to go back to the Source of the stream. I would do well to go back to reminding myself of God, who is who He says He is – all powerful and glorious, Creator of time and space and who Himself is beyond time and space. This is what I believe are words that come from a heart which possesses true fear and reverence to the Lord – yes, the same fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

I am reminded of the salvation that we have in no other name than Jesus Christ, who paid such a great price for me to be reconciled to the Creator of the Universe, that I may run boldly to His throne of grace, fully aware of the Truth of His being Our Father in Heaven.

Essentially, if I go back to remembering the sheer glory of my Father, in the process, I remember that His glory and goodness is proven through the literal nature of His Son, Jesus Christ, and all that He has done to guarantee that we are fully and completely reconciled to Him. This is the sort of ‘fear’ of the Lord that is the beginning of Wisdom, the starting point of the river of Life that makes its way through the nooks and crannies of my entire being, eventually gushing out of my heart as in rivers of living Water.

I have reason to believe Christ was the first ‘Knight’; Christ was the first TRUE Crusader, who did not set off for personal glory or profit, but to truly take back the ‘Promised Land’ – that is, you and me.

Cheesy as it sounds, I didn’t think I would come to this realization tonight. In fact, truth be told, there was part of me that really didn’t want to write and post – I mean, I was already rationalizing, telling myself I did 2000 words yesterday so that gives me chance to hold off for today… but well, as I approach the 2000 word mark in this article as well, I am that much closer to being out of the red… and all this because I was helped, at least realized enough today to proclaim that, again, Christ is the Help behind us helping. It’s because of Christ that we are able to discern the subtleties that determine when help is actually exploitation.

And it’s in these matters, I recall, that when matters involving the heart are being brought into light, we would do well to remember that Christ didn’t just die to be our sin, but we also have been made righteous, down to our very hearts.

Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – Today I believe I see Christ also as the Knight of Knights; by no means does He operate out of fear, but as we ought to, He also lives, moves, and has His being in no less than perfect and everlasting love, given to Him and us by God, who Himself is the Father of Fathers.

What a nice thought to wrap up this Sunday.

God bless us all as we turn into a new week ahead.

“…Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;

maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.

Be brave and upright that God may love thee.

Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.

Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.

That is your oath.

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