Saturday, May 14, 2016

Relentless

A series of expositions on John the Apostle Pt.5

John 5:31-32
31“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

Young John watches on as his teacher’s fame skyrockets after the public display at the temple. Jesus no longer tells those he heals to keep quiet, and now begins to heal the incoming masses, and masses there were. Certainly from all John and the disciples had been taught in the synagogues about the coming Messiah they began to build many expectations as they now were witnessing this growing popularity for what they thought would be Jesus’ overthrow of the Roman Empire and a new physical kingdom established there in Jerusalem.
As they walk along the road and began to enter Jericho James and young John finally get up the courage to ask Jesus something they’ve been discussing amongst themselves for sometime, after all this new coming Kingdom looked more and more eminent by the day. The sons of thunder approach their teacher who was walking ahead of the twelve an a growing crowd trailing behind as the came into the city.

John never ceased to be amazed that the Lord always seemed to know what you were going to ask before you asked it, he knew arguments and discussions going on between the twelve without ever hearing them, their was no surprise or sense of unexpectedness in the Rabbi whatever.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked them before they had even gotten in front of him, the brothers were still at his back and his stare remained forward looking at the people bringing their sick and lame to the roadside.

“We want to sit at your right and you’re left in your glory” young John said confidently. A jovial look crossed the Messiah’s face as if a child had just asked him a silly question. This made John well up with shame and regret, now hearing the question aloud and seeing his teacher’s response he wished he’d never asked it, he looked at his brother James with a hard look of disgust as if to accuse him and he could see that James was now feeling the same about the question they had felt compelled to ask.
“You do not know what it is you ask.” Jesus replied with the same playful tone in his voice. “Can you drink of the cup I drink, and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” As the Lord asked this question his expression grew very serious, an almost stone like look came upon him as he stared into young John’s eyes, John was silent, totally stifled by the teachers gaze. “We can!” James said. Now they had come to a stop on the road and the other disciples gathering around them and gave hard looks to James and John after hearing what they had asked, they all burned with anger. Jesus removed his gaze from young John and now looked at James sternly and said “”You will drink of the cup I drink, and be baptized with baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or my left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Jesus said.
Their teacher then spoke to the twelve, explaining that in his kingdom any positions given will be ones of service not power, selflessness not self exaltation, he tells them that he himself is but a servant and that they should be also. Surely all twelve were confused and troubled about what this meant for the coming kingdom, how such a kingdom could operate this way and what this meant for what would be expected of them. By this time the Pharisees had sent spies to walk among them and they persecuted the Rabbi just as he had told the twelve they would. He began to tell them also of a strange parable where he the teacher dies and comes back to life, but none of the twelve could make sense of what he meant.

Rant
Many of us have walked through many years in life having preconceived ideas of God and of what He would want for our lives, the problem is we haven’t actually asked God.
We are such sinful self indulgent people that we desperately want to believe that the road God has paved for us is one of prosperity and exaltation, thinking that God may have an obstacle course in mind rather than a soft path is counter to our thinking. Is it no wonder that the multitudes flock to the television evangelists that tell them that the Lord wants you to have that promotion, that new shiny car, or whatever else may make you happy? They tell us that all the work is done and we need only enjoy for ourselves not thinking too much or worrying about doing too much for those around us. When we come to the Lord with these expectations we get surprised when a “fiery trial” comes upon us. Many that flock to a false Gospel of self indulgence never grow roots in the real faith, they hear just enough truth to hope but build a foundation on lies therefore when the “fiery trial” comes they are easily scorched having never been rooted in the true soil of the Gospel to begin with.
As I have said before in this series, when we get God wrong we get life wrong and this one life is our litmus test for eternity.
So how do we ensure that we “get life right?” How can we be sure that we are rooted in the true Gospel and that we are getting God right? Ask Him! Jesus told the twelve and us in His Word what being one of his disciples looks like and feels like. He tells us to count the cost and have a right understanding of what being his disciple will mean for your life, your work, your marriage, and you precious plans and schemes. Reading devotionals and listening to sermons is encouraging and in some ways informational but if that is our main form of fertilization our roots may not be planted very deep, our expectations and understanding of what God may have planned may not be realistic and Jesus wants to be really clear about what following him means and also what it doesn’t mean. We can only grow so much when we are always placing a person between us and the Lord to relay his truth. Most growth will only come from getting alone with Christ and His word.

We must be in God’s Word allowing Him to speak into our lives we must be on our knees asking those questions. When we hear a sermon we should investigate what the preacher said for ourselves using the Word of God, when we read a devotional that makes us feel all warm and cozy we should ask “is that really true?” and see if we can find it in God’s Holy Book. God’s word creates a holy tension in us that calls for spiritual discipline, many in the Western version of our faith recoil from this and insist we only need focus on love and grace, and I agree that love and grace should give us a great sense of assurance and bring joy into our lives and they should be a daily source of thanksgiving and gratitude but if we have no discipline, if we are not seeking daily to live a life worthy of the sacrifice given to us by God than we can easily begin to focus again on our own comforts and preferences and soon we have left the rocky terrain of the Lord’s obstacle course and begun to stroll down the broad highway, after all who wants to trudge through an obstacle course when we can take a much easier route? Who wants to be a servant when we can be served?