Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 31, 2016

"Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Matthew 19:27

Even though it was Peter who asked this question it could have been anyone of us since each of us who begin following Jesus do so with our own agenda. We come to Jesus wanting to figure how we can leverage Who He is or what He can do for our benefit.

Jesus is the Son of God, God in the flesh, the second member of the Trinity and we follow Him with the intention of making it about us.

Never mind that Jesus had already spoken to this issue early in His teaching ministry:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

In yesterday's post I detailed how Judas Iscariot tried to force God to fit into his agenda and discovered the eternal and universal truth - "God's hand can't be forced and His will can't be thwarted". Judas in disgrace went out and hung himself.

Earlier in this story Peter tried to impose his agenda on Jesus by telling Him He wouldn't have to suffer and die. Jesus rebuked him and called him "Satan". That's not good.

Sarah and Abraham tried it with Hagar and it didn't end well. (Still hasn't ended, right Middle East?)

Others have tried it and everyone ended in miserable humiliating defeat. But yet we still try.

You've tried.

I've tried.

You get even more perspective on how pervasive this instinct is when you see Jesus struggling in prayer over His will and God's will in Gethsemane. So difficult was this struggle that Jesus sweat drops of blood over it.

It's a defining moment in your spiritual journey when you stop trying to sell your plan and begin complying with His will and His plan. 

As you begin this day why not pray sincerely as Jesus prayed and as Judas wished He would have prayed, "Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done"?

July 30, 2016

"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Matthew 26:6-9 

If you follow Jesus long enough He will disappoint you and you will become disillusioned.

Can you relate to that?

Here in this gospel narrative we see at least one of the disciples reach the limit of his patience. His name is Judas Iscariot. You may debate whether he was a true follower or not but clearly Jesus was not on the same page he was! 

Judas was a Zealot and believed that when the Messiah would come He would lead a rebellion that would cast off the iron bands of the Roman Empire and restore Israel to its former glory in the days of King David. But Jesus, instead was kind to Romans and rebuked the Jewish religious leaders. It didn't appear Jesus had any intention of leading a rebellion and now Judas had enough of being disappointed by Jesus.

In John's account of this story he specifically calls out Judas and Jesus rebukes him:

"But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him,objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:4-8

It's obvious Judas' agenda was diametrically opposed to Jesus'. Jesus cared about the poor but Judas cared about the purse. He was a thief and he got exposed as a consumer rather than a follower.

So what did he do?

Did he apologize and repent and get on the same page with Jesus after his true identity was betrayed? No, instead he betrayed Jesus:

"Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." Matthew 26:14-16

There is a line of thought that believes Judas turned Jesus over to the Romans thinking that when the Romans arrested Him and began abusing Him He would rise up and begin the revolt against Rome.

So Judas was attempting to force his agenda upon Jesus and making a little extra money on the side.

But events didn't unfold as he had imagined and he had to bear the shame of betraying the Son of God unto His death.

So, what's the lesson for you?

If you find yourself disappointed with Jesus, it may be a sign you are not on the same page as Him. Perhaps you should surrender your selfish agenda.

If you persist in your agenda and scheme ways of trying to force in upon Jesus know that it won't end well for you.

All of us begin following Jesus with a selfish agenda. But unless we forsake our own agenda and submit to His will it could be the end of our following.