Still confused, afraid, and aimless after the death of Jesus, Peter reverts to the familiar…”I’m going fishing,” he says.
After hours of no fish, a voice from ashore instructs them to cast their nets on the right side. Suddenly John recognizes Him. “It is the Lord!” Impulsive Peter jumps overboard to swim to Jesus. The charcoal fire already going, Jesus makes breakfast with bread and the newly caught fish. It is beautiful and familiar and just feels right. This is the third time the resurrected Jesus has appeared to him. But I imagine deep in the pit of Peter’s stomach he is wondering if the elephant in the room is going to be addressed. I wonder if the pretending nothing happened is killing him. He doesn’t have to wait long…
Flashback: The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” (John 18:17)
On the shore: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15
Flashback: Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” (John 18:25)
On the shore: He [Jesus] said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” (John 21:16)
Flashback: One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. (John 18:26-27) Luke’s account tells us Peter remembered what Jesus said and went out and wept bitterly.
On the shore: He [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
Three times Peter denies Jesus… and three times Jesus offers Peter the chance to express his love and gives him a mission. God is so gracious in His love, forgiveness, and constant pursuit of us. Our ability to serve Him isn’t based on our successes, but on His. God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. But Jesus also tells Peter what his life will look like living for Him and what kind of death he will experience. With such a heavy calling, Jesus wants him to know what he is getting into. A life lived for the gospel isn’t always an easy one, but it is the most fulfilling and rewarding. “And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” The same invitation that was given three years earlier remains, though this time through a new lens of what the good news and following Jesus looks like.
And this would be such a beautiful end to Peter’s story with Jesus on earth, but Peter is still Peter. I’ve said this before…I love that Peter was chosen as a disciple and I love that his quirks and missteps and failures are preserved for people like me. Immediately after this encounter with Jesus, Peter turns to John and asks Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus simply replies, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Even in the midst of a wonderful calling, why are we tempted to look to the right or left and compare the calling and circumstances of others? Instead of gratitude and diligence in our charge, why do we look at anyone else and wonder, “why aren’t they suffering?”, “why don’t I have what they have?”, “why do they get to do that?”, “what about me?”
The truth is…it isn’t about us. We get to play a part in God’s incredible story, but it is all for His glory. We are all created in His image and likeness. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We are all created for good works. We were made on purpose for a purpose. Our mistakes and circumstances don’t define us; they refine us. But of others, “what is that to you, [insert name]?” Our charge: “You, [insert name], follow me!”
(I can’t wait to start Acts with you guys tomorrow and see the power given to Peter and the others…to us! I can’t wait to watch Peter become who God ordained him to be, despite himself! Who’s still with me?)
Three days pass from the noonday darkness, quaking earth, torn temple veil, and cry of, “It is finished.” I picture God looking at the tomb from above, then looking over at the chosen angel, and with a nod and grin saying, “Let’s go, boys…time to open this thing up.”
Three excruciating days Mary waits for an appropriate time to go to the tomb. Likely going on no sleep, the day has finally arrived. While still dark, she makes her way to the resting place of her beloved Lord. But the stone is rolled away. Frightened, she goes to get the others. John and Peter go in. It is empty. They frantically look around assessing the situation. The linen grave clothes are tossed to the side, but the cloth that was on Jesus’ head is folded neatly in a place by itself. John made sure to preserve this for us to read thousands of years later. The God of order, the Prince of Peace, did not leave in a hurry. He took His time; he folded His face cloth.
Not sure what to make of it, the disciples retreat yet again into hiding, while Mary makes her way back to the tomb. In conversation with who she thinks is the local gardener, she hears, “Mary.” Her heart skips a beat. She can hardly breathe. Immediately she knows with whom she is speaking. “Go, tell the others…,” Jesus proclaims.
Doors locked, huddled in fear, uncertainty, and a sprinkle of hope, the disciples gather and wait. Minutes feel like hours as time drips drips drips by. Day melts into evening.
Suddenly Jesus appears standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He says. His words proclaim the opposite of what they had been feeling. Still processing how in the world He got in through the locked doors, He shows them His hands and sides. Don’t be mistaken; this is no ghost or vision. This is the real thing. Again, “Peace be with you.” But this time He adds, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them. I imagine the intimacy of His presence and gift to them. Did he one by one gently grab them by the shoulders, lock eyes with them, and exhale?
There is no door, no barrier, no emotion Jesus can’t break through to get to us. Nothing is beyond His reach, even when we are too scared to seek Him at the moment. He comes with peace, proof, purpose, and power.
“Peace be with you.” - In Jesus, we can have peace. When our hope, faith, trust is in Him, peace will prevail.
“…He showed them His hands and His side…” – Yes, we have faith. To Thomas Jesus says, “blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” But along the way, we are given many proof points to bolster our faith. Many hints, foreshadowing and fulfilled prophecies. We have faith, and we can know. John ends this chapter saying these things/signs he has written, “…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” – We aren’t living an aimless, waiting-for-heaven existence. We have a purpose. To go and tell what we have seen and experienced. To show what it looks like to be forgiven, and to offer that forgiveness to others in the name and work ofJesus.
“Receive the Holy Spirit…” – Approximately seven weeks later Jesus will have ascended, and the Holy Spirit will come in a mighty way. A power that will transform the disciples from frightened men behind locked doors to bold men of God willing to die rather than stop proclaiming the Gospel. And this same power is available to us when we believe.
God spoke through messengers and prophets in the Old Testament. The Gospels tell of the life and work of God in the flesh, His resurrection, and ascension back to His rightful throne. The story continues with the arrival of the Holy Spirit coming into each of us; God with us. In God’s great story, the baton is being passed, and it is currently in our hands. We have His peace, proof, power, and purpose. We have a commission to go and continue the work; to continue the story fueled by God in us. The face cloth is folded neatly in the tomb. The story is planned from the beginning and won’t be rushed. Step into it. Run the race set out for you to continue the story. There is still work to do, and we have been created for this purpose; for His glory. It is finished, but we are not as long as we have breath. For one day Jesus WILL return.
Tetelestai….It. Is. Finished.
I am not finished, but IT IS FINISHED.
Sin debt paid in full. Tetelestai.
Debt wiped away completely and forever. Tetelestai.
Lost sought and saved. Tetelestai.
Atonement for sins of all who believed, believe, and will believe. Tetelestai.
Reconciliation of man with God. Tetelestai.
Old Testament prophecies and foreshadowing. Tetelestai.
Seed who would crush the serpent’s head. Tetelestai.
Power over sin and Satan. Tetelestai.
All that I set out to do in human flesh. Tetelestai.
Not abolishment, but full and complete fulfillment of the law. Tetelestai.
All works given to me by the Father. Tetelestai.
Bearing witness to Truth. Tetelestai.
Lighting the way, making the path known, becoming the path. Tetelestai.
Nothing more to add; nothing more to do. Tetelestai.
The final word in the redemption of humankind. Tetelestai.
“What is truth?” Pilate scoffs as he walks away, declaring to the Jews that he finds no fault in Jesus. What threat is this Jesus if his kingdom is truth? I imagine Pilate is thinking.
This is in response to Pilate’s earlier question to Jesus asking if He was the king of the Jews. Jesus responds, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
God came to earth on a mission of truth. Jesus tells us He is the WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE. His kingdom is truth. And while this was not at all a threat to Pilate concerned only with his political status, it was offensive to the Jews, and it is just as offensive to many today.
In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul warns, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Abhorring the idea of truth, our culture likes to live in a kingdom of pragmatism (if it works, do it), relativism (no all-encompassing truth; your truth is your truth, and mine is mine), and inclusivism (all ways to “god” are equally valid and lead to the same place in the end). In fact, Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2016 was “post-truth.” And earlier this month GQ published an article with the “21 books you don’t have to read.” No surprise the Bible was number twelve, calling it, “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
Friends, when we declare Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are plummeted into a spiritual battle. A war with the forces of the world led by Satan himself, the Father of Lies.
Paul says in Ephesians we need to put on the full armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. First up, the belt of truth buckled around our waist. Truth matters! Truth is foundational and helps hold everything together. So, what is truth? It isn’t cultural norms, the most followed news source, a celebrity opinion, a professor’s latest publication, our emotions, comfort or desires. It is Jesus…the WORD become flesh…God’s Word. God, help us continue to know and live by Your truth. Help us grip tightly to it in a world that is doing everything to nullify, undermine and destroy it. Under all of our armor as part of our daily battles, let us always have the belt of truth securely fastened. Help us believe and cling to THE truth; Your truth.
Roughly three years prior to our scene in John 17, Jesus, around age 30, begins to emerge as someone to keep an eye on. No longer just an ordinary Jewish boy/man in an ordinary Jewish community who was obedient, kind, respectful, but nothing special in the eyes of most. Things changed one day along the Jordan River when He was baptized by the one ordained to pave the way...the voice of God spoke while the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. It was the start of something, though not yet “the hour” the heavens have been eagerly anticipating.
Jesus began to call disciples; students to follow, fellowship, and learn from Him. Several days into His public ministry, Jesus and some of His disciples attend a wedding in Cana. The celebration is joyful… until the wine runs out. The mother of Jesus looks His direction…I picture that “do something” mom look. Jesus responds, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME.” Nevertheless, Jesus performs His first miracle…turning water set aside for ceremonial cleansing into wine. And not just any wine, the BEST wine. A “sign” as John tells us. A hint about who He is and a foreshadowing of something even more significant to come.
Fast forward three years and Jesus is with many of those same disciples. The time that had not yet come at the wedding was upon them.
Lifting His EYES UP, Jesus prays, “Father, THE HOUR HAS COME; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…”
The hour has come. The cross and bloodshed will become the vehicle to glorify Jesus.
The hour has come. The intersection of two pieces of wood will become the intersection of grace, mercy, love, and justice.
The hour has come. What was set apart for cruelty, suffering and humiliation will be set apart for restoration.
The hour has come. The water – the outward temporary cleansing – is about to be turned into wine – the perfect blood of the only spotless lamb of God. The final, FINISHED sacrifice for our salvation and redemption.
“And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ …I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:2-10
Jesus, may I never forget the hour you willingly submitted to. YOU ALONE ARE WORTHY. Worthy of my worship, love, surrender, praise. Thank you for turning the water into wine and pouring yourself out for me.
I don’t know about you, but I often wish I could transport in time and walk with Jesus. To hear Him teach, to watch the miracles, to just be near Him and know Him on that personal level. My daughter and I often talk about “movie time” in heaven where God will pull out the projector and let us watch stories from the Bible as they actually played out…or better yet, to transport us to walk side-by-side with Adam when his eyes first opened and God was the first face he saw, Moses when the Red Sea parted, Ruth when she wed Boaz, Esther when she held her breath and walked in to address the king, David when he faced Goliath, Hosea as he faithfully stood by Gomer, Mary when the wise men came and worshipped her newborn son, the woman who had been bleeding 12 years when she was suddenly healed by Jesus, Martha when her brother was raised from the dead, the disciples when the risen Jesus first appeared and breathed on them, Peter when he preached the first sermon and 3,000 came to know Jesus as Savior …I could go on forever…
Jesus is telling His disciples – and us – there is something better. Something that can only come in His absence. The disciples don’t get it though. They are sad, confused, afraid, heartbroken over the idea. What could be better than the personal presence, protection, wisdom, guidance of Jesus Himself?
But Jesus insists. It will be better.
The better person will be a helper, a guide, a convictor of sin, righteousness, and judgement, a voice of truth. But the best part…instead of being with us, He will be IN US. He will be with us always, wherever we find ourselves.
I am terrible with directions. Awful. I can get lost anywhere. Imagine I had a guide. A wonderful person on one of my journeys that I trusted completely. All I had to do was follow Him and never get lost. However, He could only help me when I was physically with them. But, what if I he implanted a spiritual GPS in me that was a manifestation of Himself? He would always tell me where to go. He would alert me if I was going off track. He would even help me when I was confused and teach me things along the way. And when I was weary, He would fill in the gaps for what I needed on the journey. I never had to doubt a thing, He could not steer me wrong; it isn’t in His nature. But I had a part to play. I had to make sure He was activated. I also had to listen to Him. When He told me where to go or what to/not to do, I had to listen. He couldn’t physically make me go there. I had to follow His directions.
This is the power of the Spirit available to us. As much as I long to go back and walk with Jesus, this is a better thing for now. The Spirit in me can provide everything I am looking for Jesus to do in my desires to walk with Him. It is my fault if I am not activating Him in my life, or equally bad, not listening to Him. If we were chronically directionally-challenged and we had a fool-proof internal guide at our disposal, but refused to use it, we would be crazy. We have so much power available to us and I’m convinced we are not recognizing the value, rendering it idle.
In his commentary, Guzik points out, “Look at the disciples before Jesus left. Confused. Thick-headed. Afraid. Selfish and self-centered. Look at them after Jesus left, and after the Helper had come. They are wise, surrendered, bold, and giving. Truly it was ‘to your advantage’ that Jesus left!”
This. This is the power I want. I want to activate God inside me and never get lost again.
I’m going out on a limb to declare that we ALL want to bear fruit. We all want our life to matter for something bigger than ourselves. We want to make a difference and we want to live a joy-filled life.
Jesus shows us how to get there, but there is a price…though not as high as doing nothing. The shears come out either way.
If we are not bearing fruit, we will ultimately get cut off the vine completely, left to wither, dry up, and die. But even when we are bearing fruit, the shears come out. This time for the purpose of pruning…SO THAT more fruit may be produced. No matter the size of the harvest, there is always opportunity for more fruit.
No one escapes the touch of the shears, but the outcome is vastly different.
Pruning takes on different forms depending on what we need in our fruit-bearing journey. I’m not sure what your pruning looks like, but pruning for me right now looks like facing and changing a few things I have been fighting for a while. I'm tired of the fighting. I'm ready to surrender (I think...I hope...). I wrote yesterday that “change requires change.” Bearing fruit requires abiding in God. And abiding in God during the pruning looks a lot like obedience…it isn’t simply wanting to bear fruit, it isn’t working your butt off, it isn’t thinking a lot about it or coming up with an awesome plan, it isn’t willing it to happen…it is OBEYING. I deeply desire to bear more fruit. I hope one day to share about my pruning and my newly trimmed branch full of fruit, but for now it is between God and me. I don’t have the best track record and I want to see some progress before I am ready to share, but I’m privately writing about it in the hopes that I can at some point. Erdman says, “genuine conversion is not measured by the hasty decision but by long-range fruitfulness.”
Pruning, even with the promise of a beautiful outcome, is just plain hard.
If God is speaking something to you and you want to bear fruit for His glory, DO WHAT HE SAYS! Sorry, was I yelling? That was directed at me.
The alternative is never experiencing the fullness of joy He promises. It is remaining in just-okay-limbo-land…or worse. Carson says, "No one is more miserable than the Christian who for a time hedges in his obedience. He does not love sin enough to enjoy its pleasures, and does not love Christ enough to relish holiness. He perceives that his rebellion is iniquitous, but obedience seems distasteful. He does not feel at home any longer in the world, but his memory of his past associations and the tantalizing lyrics of his old music prevent him from singing with the saints. He is a man most to be pitied; and he cannot forever remain ambivalent. " (Carson)
Here's some good news: If we commit to the abiding in Him, in His Word, in His commandments, He promises to give us what we ask and need to stay there, to withstand the pruning, and to come out stronger and more fruitful on the other side.
Where are you today? Do you feel cut off? Are you in the middle of a beautiful harvest after a season of pruning (praise God!)? Are you in the midst of the pruning? Are things such a mess you don’t even know where you are? Wherever you are, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know one thing for sure: we need to ABIDE in Him. Commit to quiet time. Dig in His word. When He speaks, to listen and obey…no matter how hard…trust He will be there to help as He promises. Don’t just believe Him; believe IN Him…that He is good, that He is who He says and can do what He says He can do, that we are who He says we are, that He has our back, that He keeps His promises. Let Him love us through each season.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11). Who’s ready for some FULL JOY? I’m praying along with you, no matter where you find yourself on the vine today.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, WHOEVER believes in me will also do the works that I do; and GREATER works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father…”
If we believe the Bible is true, then this too is true. And I don’t know about you, but it fires me up!
Who is it for? WHOEVER believes in Jesus…that is me, and you if you are a believer.
What will we do? ALSO do the works that Jesus did…scratch that…GREATER works than these.
How? Because Jesus went to the Father, and in doing so, the Holy Spirit came into us.
So, lets back up to that greater works thing. Greater than feeding 5,000? Greater than walking on water? Greater than turning water into wine? Greater than healing all manner of disease and illness? Greater than raising the dead?
While I’m guessing we will never match the physical miracles performed by Jesus, they were temporary. The 5,000 were hungry again the next day. The wine eventually ran out. The healed people – even raised Lazarus – ultimately died. There are greater works than these that Jesus ushered in, and we get to be a part of seeing them explode.
J.C. Ryle says, “There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.”
John calls the miracles of Jesus signs. They pointed to who He was and what He would ultimately do. While He was walking the earth, the work wasn’t finished, but when He hung on the cross and breathed His last breath, taking the wrath for all of our sins, IT WAS FINISHED. It’s go time. Time for some new works, friends. Works that Jesus made way for and we get to be a part of. Works of sharing the Gospel and letting the Holy Spirit take hold of people. Works with an impact that will never run out or die. Eternal healing and raising from the dead. He doesn’t need us, but he ALLOWS us to be part of these greater works. What a blessing and privilege!
I often look at a loved one who is suffering, and I wish I could grab them, find Jesus on the dusty dirt road by the Jordan River, and touch the hem of his garment so they would be healed. But Jesus is telling us we can do even greater works than this. We can be a part of shining His light and pointing people to an eternal healing and restoration. It is so beautiful and overwhelming. I don’t want to miss any part of this incredible charge Jesus has given me.
And in this charge of greater works, Jesus gives us another promise: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
I think many people mistake this for a “name it and claim it” gospel, sometimes for noble things…sometimes for not so noble things. But it is actually in the context of taking the baton Jesus handed to the disciples… who handed it to the early Christians… who handed it on and on until we ran alongside and grabbed it for our leg of the race. He is for us. He sent us the Holy Spirit. He wants to equip us for the race and the good works He prepared in advance for us. It might not always look like we think it should, but He PROMISES, “I WILL DO IT.” I believe Him. Do you?
Let’s do this, friends. Any other works we are currently striving for pale in comparison. Let’s not trade the good for the GREATER. Let’s be a part of these greater works. Let’s ask in His name – His character, His nearness, His will, His purpose, His power. It is such an empowering gift. God, we are in!
I love that Jesus chose Peter as a disciple. I love that God has preserved stories demonstrating personality quirks of Peter for us to appreciate and sigh, “uh oh, me too!” In the roughly 24 hours leading up to Jesus’ death, we see Peter show lack of wisdom, submission, and obedience. We see Peter make promises he can’t keep and forcefully deny the one he loves. None of it takes away from the love Peter has for the Lord; his friend. None of it takes away from God’s ability or desire to use Peter in a mighty way for His purposes (we’ll soon be in Acts and hear the first post-resurrection sermon proclaimed loudly and boldly by Peter). But it brings to light weaknesses that can be simmering even in the love. It shows cracks in how we, even with good intentions, can misunderstand and fail to fully submit.
“You shall never wash my feet,” Peter declares. He doesn’t understand. He can’t accept his Lord stooping to such a lowly position. His pride that kept him from initially being the one to step up among all the others and wash feet, is now keeping him from allowing Jesus to serve him in this way.
“If I do not wash you, you have no part with me,” Jesus responds.
“Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head,” Peter swings at breakneck speed in the complete opposite direction, still woefully off track. He is taking what he hears Jesus say and deciding how it should happen.
Peter struggled to just be still, listen, trust, and obey Jesus. Instead he is impulsive, reacts based on emotion, analyzes, makes assumptions, and devises his own plan. He isn’t intending to fight Jesus on this, he just hasn’t learned how to surrender. He is still taking his share of control over how it will all go down.
I am so guilty of the same. Like Peter, I really do love Jesus. A lot. But also like Peter, pride keeps me from sacrificially serving others and pride keeps me from allowing others to serve me. Pride keeps me wanting control of how things should happen instead of fully leaning into Jesus’ ways. My type-A-get-it-done personality keeps me from sitting still long enough to listen to all of what God has to say...instead my typical MO is hearing a few words and running while His voice trails behind until inaudible. Pride makes me falsely confident in how I will react in a certain situations, not seeking wisdom and discernment when I need it most.
Praying today that I can fully step into God’s ways, God’s timing, God’s direction. Praying that I allow God’s power to break through my pride so I can serve others well and also allow others to serve where God has called them. Thank you, God, for your patience and persistence. Thank you for your beautiful example of how to serve and love well.
Ok, friends…this isn’t the Friday feel-good post…but I feel like you are my people…you are with me in wrestling with truth and challenging ourselves to live it, so here goes...
“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities BELIEVED in him, but for FEAR of the Pharisees they did NOT confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from MAN more than the glory that comes from GOD.” John 12:43-44
Y’all! I’m so afraid this is where many of us are. We’ve gotten to the point of belief, but we are stuck there. The glory of man seductively slips its way into first place in our hearts. We’re not afraid to be put out of the Jewish synagogue, but we have our own “synagogues” we aren’t willing to sacrifice…things we prioritize that are keeping Jesus from His rightful Lordship position in our lives.
As the brother of Jesus reminded us, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19)
Belief is not the same as declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior. The devil believes and still remains his own lord.
What does it look like to have Jesus as the Lord of our lives? He is the ruler, master, authority, and boss. Of. Everything; All. Of. Us. It is yielding our life to Him. Absolute and total surrender. We are not our own. He is the one we want to impress. He is the voice we want to listen to above all others.
S.M. Zwemer says, “Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” Ouch!
We are quick to say we believe and confess Jesus is Lord and Savior on Sundays or in our quiet time, but do we understand what these words mean; do we live these words? Yes, we believe Jesus is Lord of all things in the macro sense, but is Jesus in a Lordship position over our individual lives? I’m wrestling with this today…for myself and as I am hearing from parents who are slowing losing their believing children to the world. My heart is so burdened over this. We will drift when we aren’t anchored in the Lordship of Jesus.
Earlier in this chapter of John, Jesus gives us a picture of what it looks like to have Jesus as Lord… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:24-26
In other words, only by the seed “dying” or being buried in the ground, willing to transform, does it grow and bear fruit. Remaining just a seed, it sits alone and unproductive; not fulfilling the purpose of its creation. Unless we are willing to lose our life, we will never keep it for eternity. As long as we cling to ourselves as our own lord, we lose. We are terrible lords. On our own we are just unplanted seeds being carried away by the latest gust of wind. Unfulfilled, stuck in a cycle of striving, comparison, envy, pride, dissatisfaction. The answer to true life is in the dying. Being buried to take root in Jesus. Dying to us as lord of our lives and blooming with Jesus as Lord. It seems terrifying and unknown and counter-cultural, so we cling to what we know, chasing the fake bright lights and bling that are the devil’s crafty distortion of the true light.
I fear we believe in Jesus, but our heart is still in a full-on battle with the world. And we can’t successfully serve two masters. We like the idea of Jesus as Savior, but not so much of Jesus as LORD OF OUR LIFE. We love the identity we try to create, copy and portray more than we love the identity given to us by our Creator. We love the purpose we covet more than the greater purpose we were designed for. We love the glory that comes from peers, status, comfort, control, worldly achievement, human accolades more than the glory that comes from God.
How do we break free? How do we love God more than the world? How do we move from belief to surrender? We can’t just will it to happen. It is impossible without God. I’m especially burdened about this among teens today. How do we help kids get there in their world of cliques, insecurity, seductive ads, snapchat, ungodly role models, Instagram filters, stirring emotions? I fear we brush too many things off as “kids being kids,” but any time we push Jesus off the throne of our will, we create a void the devil is happy to fill.
I would LOVE your thoughts on this. What I do know is to pray. A LOT. To point myself and others to the Word of God and a commitment to quiet time to let the Spirit work in us. Only God can do this. What else do you guys have? I’d love to hear how God is working through you in this space… personally and among teens in your life. I’m so thankful for a patient and loving God who forgives us over and over and over again when we confess our constant attempts at taking the reigns of lordship from Him.
All 1 1 Corinthians 1 Peter 1 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 & 3 John 2 Corinthians 2 Peter 2 Thessalonians 2 Timothy Acts Colossians Ephesians Galatians Hebrews Info James John Jude Luke Mark Matthew Philemon Philippians Revelation Romans TItus