Say It Again
Their ultimate spiritual success was a result of God’s work, not human achievement.
Raising children can be rewarding and exciting as well as challenging and sometimes just plain exhausting! How many times do we say the same thing over and over again to our children?! It can be as simple as eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, pick up your room. As our children mature, the dialogue changes to guiding them away from destructive behavior; teaching them to be good citizens; helping them learn the truths of God and praying they make our faith their own. All too quickly, our children are faced with challenges and they are forced to make choices that may test beliefs and family values. In our family history, we’ve had great victories as well as encounters that did not go as we would have hoped. We found noble intentions and the knowledge between right and wrong was usually not lost. However, the old proverb “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions” became a defense and a justification of our mistakes.
All four gospel accounts describe the last few days and hours of Christ’s walk here on earth. Each is from a unique perspective with similarities as well as distinct differences. The book of John is particularly rich in the actual words of our Lord. (John 14: 25-31) Like a parent sitting around the dinner table, Jesus repeats words He spoke so many times along His journey with the disciples. He showers them with blessings, reminders, instructions, promises, commands. Reminding them that though He is leaving, they are NOT to be troubled. Jesus will overcome ‘the ruler of the world’ and when they see it come to pass, they will remember His words and believe! Jesus reminded them of the promise of a Helper, a Comforter, an Advocate…One who will teach and even bring to mind all He had previously taught.
I can imagine myself sitting at the table while our Lord speaks. I find my heart and soul pierced to the point of tears as I reflect upon the beautiful words from our Savior. I can hear myself joining with each disciple as they promise to stay firm and follow Him to the end – intentions strong, true, noble, sincere, honest and genuine! I wonder if I would even side with Peter as he argued with Jesus after he hears they would all fall away and forsake Him.
Although the disciples believed they would keep the promises made, each one of them abandoned Jesus in His hour of suffering. (Matthew 26:30-35) Peter failed further by denying even knowing Jesus. Although they had a perfect Teacher, they failed to understand him correctly. Nevertheless, Jesus used them. God in His mercy forgave them and resurrected their faith! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, their faith was revived and it stood strong. Their ultimate spiritual success was a result of God’s work, not human achievement.
Just like Jesus’ followers, without the power of His Holy Spirit, we all too often stumble and fall. May we learn from their example and consider words by Watchman Nee: “Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, ‘in Christ.’”
Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”