To follow Him can be really hard. There doesn’t seem to be any contingency plan for any who are looking to escape such a drastic call. Jesus either is, or He isn’t our Lord. “Do you also want to leave?” This is a question that will be asked to every disciple–sometimes once, and sometimes repeatedly.
There are these crystalline moments when I must make a decision. Will I take up my cross and go with Him? There doesn’t seem to be any room in Jesus’ band for ‘almost’ disciples. That scares me sometimes.
Being obedient is far from easy. Today’s cross is waiting for me. I’m afraid at times that I won’t be able to take the next step as a true follower. Am I just fooling myself?
All of heaven seems to stand on tiptoe to see what I’m going to do next.
Who am I really?
“After this, many of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance:
“Do you also want to leave?”
“Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:66-69, The Message
Image from Wikipedia, verses are from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.
The Gospel of John describes a wonderful image of the vineyard— branches and vine. This illustrates our relationship with Jesus. We must abide and remain in him to be fruitful. He is the vine, and we, we are merely the branches. He is the sole source of everything.
Notice the clear implications of John 15.(Come to Me, remain in Me, stay connected to Me.) He didn’t advise or suggest we attend a seminar, go to Bible school, or attend a prayer meeting.
He said, “Come to ME.” He, and He alone is the one we are to center on. He insists that He is to be our total focus. There is no other (Matthew 11:28.)
This is either an egotistical religious fanatic intoxicated with His power and self-importance, or He really is reality.C.S. Lewis comments,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.
He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Jesus insists that we worship Him. That much is clear. “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. I am the only way to the Father.” And of course, “He who believes in Me has eternal life, and he who doesn’t is condemned”(John 14:6.) We just breeze through these verses and never truly grasp the ramifications. A mere man could not say these things (at least not with straight face) and be considered sane.
He either was what He said He was, or a liar or lunatic. And we must decide who He really is.
As believers we need to realize Jesus’ His rightful position. The One who sits on the throne is the center. All things derive their life, meaning and essence from Him. We must not forget that He is the Risen Lord. We need to realize that He has asked us to worship Him. Point blank.
Many of our struggles come when we try to reduce Jesus to something less than what is real. If He really is the only way to the Father, we had better pay attention.
“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”
” Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
I am persuaded that Americans simply do not “process” this concept of sovereignty, especially when it’s endowed in a person. A recent trip to London I observed a deep commitment to the royal crown. Some people are said to be ‘lactose intolerant;’ I think we are ‘lordship intolerant.’
America is a broad, an open and friendly nation, characteristics worthy of emulation. But we are also rebellious and arrogant people. Our nation was born out of revolution to a sovereign king.
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6
Jesus reigns and rules the Universe. There are no competing gods trying to take his place, no competition for his job. He is the ultimate Sovereign. He is a King (with a capital K,) and he is worshipped as ‘the King of kings.’ Imagine a universe, out of control, without laws, without a ruler. It would be pure anarchy; it would be like hell itself.
Without any apology, the Bible proclaims that God is totally sovereign, ordaining, ruling, and disposing of all things as He will. If He has no control over the universe, then our faith in Him becomes an utter absurdity. It matters if God is in control, or not. It effects everything.
Nothing surprises God
Nothing is a setback to His plans
Nothing can thwart His purposes, and
Nothing is beyond His control
“His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens.”
Joni Eareckson Tada
My heart must change. I must set aside those American attributes of rebellion and pride. There isn’t room for them. You see, I belong to a new kingdom now, a new King. He is not in danger of losing His throne– but I am. And He rules everything in His universe, not with an iron fist, but with an open hand with nail prints for all to see.