OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2)

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

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Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

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To be continued next Thursday…

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR

As I wrote you last Thursday, today begins the series on John 13 by my friend and mentor, Donna Baker. Again, thank you, Donna, for allowing me to share your heart with my readers.

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. –John 13:1

This was not only the last night of Jesus’ life, but He knew in mere hours He would be tortured and crucified: the most cruel form of death.

And yet He spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father, in teaching and serving others.

If we faced that, would we be fulfilling our religious obligations, teaching others—calm, methodical, focused on the goal—or would we be ricocheting off the walls, focused on the end? It’s quite unlikely we would be calm. Maybe we’d even be crying and praying. Jesus did that too in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.

He was after all, human.

He was obeying God and His written Word in spite of what faced Him.

It was the Feast of the Passover when all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to attend the Feast:

The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—

My appointed times are these:…

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’”

—Leviticus 23:1-2, 5

Jesus was not only to go to the Feast, He was to be the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for all the sin of all mankind. There are so many Scriptures that say this, but I only want to dwell now on the one in John 1, where John the Baptist foretold of Him:

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

The Jews had wanted to kill Him for years, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover. However God had other plans and His plans are never thwarted:

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

The Jews thought they were in control but reading about the last night of Jesus’ life should put that idea to rest with anyone who reads it. God caused all things to be as they were foretold in the Old Testament. There are too many to list here.

Be an Acts 17:11 Christian and look them up and you will be amazed at Your God!!

Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. —Acts 17:11

God’s plan was in place. Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

Beloved, as you pray today, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I in lockstep with God’s plan for me today?

  • Am I spending enough time listening to Him through His Word and in prayer?

  • Am I trusting God for my future even if it is a harsh future, or even death?

  • Am I praying and caring only for myself or for others as Jesus did in His last hours?

To be continued next Thursday…

Joyous Hearts

As I wrote recently, today is the first of several Treasure Tuesday devotionals by my long-distance friend and mentor, Pat Knight. Today’s devotional is taken from her book, REJOICE!

JOYOUS HEARTS

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. —Proverbs 15:30

Like the tantalizing, sizzling colors winding downward from the primary discharge of the fireworks display, in our thoughts we can supplant joy for the flashes of brilliantly colored light. As each burst produces unique colors and patterns, the major hues trailing through the sky divide and convert into brilliant colors until the fizzle of the initial burst recedes as the point of light remains.

Joy functions in much the same manner. A person with an effervescent spirit engages another in conversation or simply flashes a smile as a friendly gesture. There are burst and sparks of light, like an inner energy that is communicated from one source of joy. From the first burst of enthusiasm, joy divides into cheerful jubilation until, with just a spark of joy remaining, the fire is rekindled in the recipient’s heart, leaving the opportunity for the qualities of joy to increase until another vivacious spirit carries joy along to split and grow. “Rejoice always” [Philippians 4:4] is a direct command. Rejoice is the action verb of the noun joy.

Joy is a gift from God, like fireworks in a night sky with all manner of sparkling light piercing into our lives and awakening us to God’s inner workings. Joy is jubilation made evident as we worship God in the splendor of His majesty. Joy never loses its energy, emerging to consistently provide gratefulness during hardships and trials. “Rejoice always.” Joy is a command. Joy is active and reactive. When we radiate joy, we multiply its benefits and affect others by our delight and good cheer.

Gardening gloves that have been left outside to the elements need the fingers turned inside out to examine for the presence of insects or the growth of mildew on the fabric before being pulled onto the hand. God resides in the Christian’s heart where He is in charge of the seat of our emotions. Just as the gloves were turned inside out to reveal any internal growth, if our hearts were examined from the inside, joy would be clinging to the sides and growing prolifically, yearning for an outward expression. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” [Matthew 12:34b].

Joy is an inner smile seeking an outlet. When we rejoice, we are exposing gladness of the heart. God resides in our hearts, at the epicenter of our emotional activity, surrounded by our joy. He also commands that we share joy with others. Joy is self-perpetuating: The more we share, the more we generate. There is little danger of diminishing our supply. Our worship of God creates a flourishing joy, used to extend enthusiasm and exuberance, naturally emitting a vital emotional energy. Joy is powerful, with the capacity to reach an apathetic heart with love and goodwill. For the Christian, “rejoice always” is not an optional activity, but a command from our Father in heaven. Cast a glimmer of joy and observe the magnificent light show that ensues.

My dear Pat, thank you so much for blessing all of us through your writing.

Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.