I sense in my own spirit, and in the spirits of those who have great discernment, that our time of trial will soon be upon us. Maybe its because I'm re-reading John 17 and 18, and contemplating Jesus's High Priestly Prayer and the charges brought against Him by the Jewish Council and the Roman government. I sense the passion with which He prayed for those His Father had given Him, and I know that He continues those prayers for us in this time. He asks God to keep us in our Father's Name, just as He, Jesus, kept the Disciples who walked with Him.
Jesus knows that we will experience everything the Disciples endured in that day, and worse. The world will hate us, just as they hated Him and His Disciples 2000 years ago, because we are not of this world, just as He was not. He specifically says to His Father, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one ... Sanctify them in Your word, which is Truth." And then He goes on to request that the Disciples, and all who would come to believe in Him, "would be one, even as we are one". The Father sent Him on assignment, and here we are, in our lifetimes, at this time in history, and He is sending us out on our assignment!
As I listened in my spirit for the intentions of Jesus's heart in this prayer, I was overcome with a couple of immediate thoughts. Jesus emphasizes just how important it is to Him that we Believers "be one as He and the Father are one". This is not the only time He has expressed this desire. It is at the foundation of His ministry. We must understand that He and God, the Father, share the purpose for why He was sent to the world that they created. He is on assignment from Heaven, to re-establish the spiritual connection between the Creator and the created, and to offer Eternal Life to all who would receive it. And just as the Father sent His Son on assignment, the Son is sending each of us on our assignment.
I couldn't help but think how difficult it has been for us to "be one". There are over 200 different denominations of Christianity in the U.S. alone, and over 45,000 globally, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. That many denominations has led to different traditions, rituals, and doctrines. That also includes differences in how we view what Christians will experience in these End Times. While most Christians understand that we have been given different responsibilities in the Kingdom, our souls often get cross-ways with each other over our perceptions of what we will experience. We are all familiar with the different eschatology positions -- premillennialism, for example, [in which Jesus returns prior to the 1,000 year reign of peace on the earth]; or the different dispensations of Biblical history, such as the Mosaic Age, versus the Church Age, versus the Millennial Kingdom. I guess it is our spirit of pride that compels man to determine the mind of God, which leads to squabbles over the question of whether Christians will be spared God's judgment of the world at the end of this Age. Are we to experience the Great Tribulation [as witnesses of God's love to an unsaved world] or be raptured out of here [and escape the Mark of the Beast and all that Satan brings against those that belong to Jesus]. Because of all these debated issues among the faithful, Satan has done a good job of keeping us at odds with one another.
But it is the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Judas brings the band of Roman soldiers, along with the religious officers of the Jews, that pierced my heart the most. Out of his love for Jesus, Peter is ready to defend Christ, and drawing his sword, cuts off the ear of the High Priest's guard. Jesus's response is both remarkable and inspiring ... Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me? Jesus is telling us that God has commissioned Him to go to the Cross to atone for the sins of all mankind. It is His assignment and "the cup" is the situation, condition, and circumstances He finds Himself in, and He will be obedient in carrying out His divine assignment.
Like Jesus, we are all here on this planet Earth because, as spirits created since the foundation of the world, we have been sent by Jesus to live in this human body [just as He was sent to live in a human body by God, the Father]. We, too, are here to fulfill our assignment. There are so many questions associated with that statement. Do we fully understand our assignment? Do we comprehend that it is the same assignment as Jesus's? If you don't know what that is, let me refer you to John 18:37. When questioned by Pilate whether He was a King or not, Jesus replied, For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world -- to bear witness to the truth. Here is what I believe is at the heart of Jesus's ministry, and our purpose here on earth ... Jesus came to be a witness about His Father [our God] and to glorify Him by accomplishing His assignment. By witnessing that God had sent Him, and going to the Cross in obedience, He is witnessing to the world that God so loved the world, He sent His Son [to die for us] so that all who believe in the Son will not perish forever, but have everlasting [eternal] life. He is inspiring and encouraging us to do the same -- declare this Truth, pick up our Cross and be willing to die as a martyr to this Truth.
In short, Jesus came to be a witness of this Eternal Truth, and to send others out to be witnesses and martyrs to this same Truth - through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who will guide us to all truth, as we need it, to fulfill our assignment. That glorifies His Kingdom and the power of the witnesses of that Kingdom; a Kingdom which is not of this world. The Kingdom to which we belong is not a world system, but a realm of power. We don't just write about it or speak about it. We experience it and live it. This is "the cup" we have been given to drink. It is a serious mission we have been sent to accomplish. At the end of it is victory and celebration because we have glorified our Father in Heaven, by glorifying His Son during our time on this earth.
But between now and then, we must remain committed to witnessing to the world about the Truth that everyone who lives and believes in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will never die. The cup we have been given will be bitter to some and difficult to swallow. Pray that we can abide in the power and authority transferred to us by our Savior, and grow into His very image, joyfully drinking from the cups of Sanctification, Redemption, Grace, Power, and Victory in the Lord. Let us be a light in this dark world, pointing everyone we encounter to the way to Eternal Life. And let us willingly drink of the cup handed to us, saying, "Yahweh, You alone are my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. You hold my destiny and its timing in Your hands. Thank you for trusting me to drink of the cup You have given me. Holy Spirit, guide me and empower me to finish my assignment, glorifying my Lord, who has sent me. And Lord, Jesus, I praise Your Mighty Name! You are my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. You will be my Shield in times of trouble, and You are the Power behind my Salvation. You will be my Stronghold. And I will praise Your Name because You are worthy to be praised, and I will be saved from my Enemies". Glorifying You IS my cup!
Psalm 23:5 You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of Your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my cup overflows. (The Passion Translation)