On mission with Jesus – John 12:26

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.

The Gospel of John does not include a precise version of the Great Commission. There is no “Go into all the world” or “Go and make disciples,” but this verse offers and interesting take on the subject.

The section of John 12 starts with some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. In all likelihood these are Gentiles and not simply Greek-speaking Jews who happened to be in Jerusalem. They were probably “God-fearers” as believing Gentiles were sometimes called. The early church drew many from this number as the gospel began to go out among the nations.

The verse in question, however, does not so much tell us to go as to follow. If we want to serve Jesus we need to follow him. Moreover, we need to follow him wherever he goes.

I would contend that wherever we might sense that people need Jesus, he is present there already. Go where we might, we are not going to flee from his presence. If our mission takes us to a faraway land, across the country or across the street, when we get there, we will find that Jesus is there already.

Serving Jesus means to go in some sense of the word, but it is going with Jesus or going where he has gone before. The Father will honor those who serve Christ in this fashion, but for right now, Jesus is waiting for us to follow.

Fulfilling the Law of Christ – Dr. Harold Netland

This is from April 30, 2019.  The subject matter is related to our previous series on Unity, Diversity and Our Identity in Christ.  Dr. Netland is one of my instructors and one of the readers putting me through my doctoral project.  (Not sure why, but it doesn’t seem to want to start at the beginning.)

 

Matthew 15 Verse by Verse

Matt photoMatthew has been hinting at the fact that Jesus is the “prophet like Moses” that was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.  In this chapter the Lord begins to do Moses-like works not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.

Matthew 15.pdf

Matthew 15.mp3

 

Great faith – Matthew 15:21-28

Sometimes we think of great faith as the kind of faith that prays for great things and sees amazing answers to prayer.  That is probably how great faith frequently looks, but great faith need not always look the same.  Consider the case of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The greatness in the woman’s faith is not that she asked for anything more than others might ask.  The Gospels give several examples of people coming to Jesus on behalf of their children and Jesus healing them or even raising them from the dead.  He cast out plenty of demons.

Jesus commends her faith before granting her request, but only after an interaction in which Jesus seems to refuse her.  First he says nothing (v.23), then he pushes the Gentile/Jewish distinction beyond what we might even consider polite (vv. 24-26).  Her humility and persistence in the face of Christ’s seeming condescension and persistent refusal brings out his praise (v.28).

If you are like me you have several prayer requests that God has not seen fit to answer even after many years, maybe decades or most of your life.  And like me you struggle and are tempted to give up.  You might see numerous reasons why God would never answer these prayers.  “I’m not worthy.  I’m really not worthy.  God doesn’t answer prayers like these for people like me.  Why should he?”  These reasons (and I have more) sound a lot like “The Jewish Messiah isn’t about to grant the request of a Canaanite woman, is he?”  But he did.  

The point is that neither an unanswered prayer nor what looks like a humiliating refusal are the same thing as a final “no.”  Jesus used his delays to draw out further expressions of the woman’s faith.  That faith was in her all the time, but had Jesus responded quickly, none of us would have seen it and we might never know.  

Let’s be the kind of people who hang on like the devil – or better, like this Canaanite woman – with whatever faith we have and then even more.  Sometimes faith grows in its praying, its asking, humility and continuous kneeling before God.  Sometimes God’s answers come only after long delays.  A paltry, weak and sickly faith can be satisfied with quick answers, and then it may mislead us into thinking such faith is great.  In fact, great faith, like this woman’s, may be the faith that keeps asking without any answer in sight.