A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Faith of the Disciples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith of the Disciples. Show all posts

June 21, 2024

Like the Disciples, Will We "Get It" in Time?

As so often happens, when I'm inspired to write a blog post it becomes a confession of sorts; my working out a spiritual issue that the Lord has put on my heart. I wake up at 4 in the morning, seeking understanding from Jesus and asking for clarity on how to solve a crisis of faith. And because I've clearly heard His instruction that He made me to write to please Him, I find I can express myself the best when writing my thoughts and conversations with Him -- much better than in my contemporaneous speaking. So, I invite you to partake in what He has revealed to me this time about the level of faith we experience.  

My newest questions for the Lord began to surface after watching the highly emotional last scene in episode 4 of The Chosen. I know there are many hyper-religious Christians who would tell me that they find this series unBiblical and unworthy of being accountable to the life and times of Jesus. But I discern that it is not the intention of the series to report every word of Scripture concerning Jesus, but rather to illustrate and link the themes of Jesus's teachings in the Bible; to give us a fuller scope and range of what Jesus was conveying to His Disciples [including us]. 

So, whenever I hear this criticism, I am always brought back to Proverbs 25:2 ... It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out, and John 21:25 ... And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one [or in detail], I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. This is why the scenes regarding the faith of the Centurion [in comparison to the faith of the Disciples], and Jesus's responses to both have touched me so deeply. 

Because I am a student of the Bible, I can recognize how the writers of the show have interwoven verifiable Scripture with interpretations of the precepts the Bible is trying to teach us. It is here that I subscribe wholly to the suggestion in Isaiah 28:10... that the Bible must be understood "line upon line, and precept upon precept". In other words, God's truth is sometimes revealed in one comprehensive sentence, but also in small principles which build upon one another to form a more thorough or broad understanding. That is what I discovered as I watched certain Biblical scenes being played out on the screen. So, let me share what I discerned and how it provided a new and significant benefit to my faith.

Let's consider the evidence of faith in the Disciples, particularly the brothers James and John in Chapter 10 of Mark -- and then the proof of faith in the Centurion, from Luke, Chapter 7 . Jesus has been increasing His pressure among the Jewish community to understand His mission and its purpose for the Kingdom of God. His miracles are becoming more widely known, even as the religious priests and elders are becoming more dissatisfied with His teachings. And so He begins trying to prepare His Disciples for what was going to happen to him. He gives them a very pointed lecture, saying, "Listen very carefully: we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles [Romans]. They [the Romans] will mock and ridicule Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise [from the dead]."    

And what is James and John's response? They tell Jesus they want Him to do something for them; whatever they ask of Him. When Jesus questions their request, He finds they desire to be seated next to Him [in His glory] in His Kingdom; one on His right and one on His left. But you can hear the consternation in Jesus's voice as He tells them they don't have a clue about what they're asking for. "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism [of suffering and death] with which I am baptized?"  When they answer that they are able, Jesus informs them that they will indeed drink from that difficult cup, but that to be seated next to Him is not His to give. It is only for those for whom it has been prepared by His Father. He further advises them this power and authority they are asking for belongs to the world. Those who wish to become great in His Kingdom become servants and slaves; to serve others, not to be served. And He makes it clear that even the Son of Man will give His life for the sake of others.

So, where was their faith? And what were they putting their faith in? Certainly doesn't sound as if they yet understood Jesus's overriding mission, [or their own] does it? Now, let's take a look at Luke 7 and the faith of the Gentile Centurion, who was a citizen of Rome. From this account we see that the Roman military commander had a slave, "who was highly regarded by him, was sick and on the verge of death. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to Him, asking Him to come and save the life of his slave". This is an interesting passage. From it we can discern that this Roman soldier had been following the miracles and deeds of Jesus in which He healed the sick. But instead of condemning Jesus [as a rebel-rouser] which much of his Roman overlords would do, He believes that all Jesus has to do is "just speak a word and my slave will be healed". He has faith in Jesus's power to heal! 

But what he also possesses, is something that the Disciples have yet to grasp. As a military man, he recognizes the structure of the power which Jesus delegates. He recognizes that, like himself, Jesus is subject to a higher power. He understands that Jesus's purpose is to do the work of the Father, as He is instructed; that He is under orders from this higher Power. He understands the power which Jesus possesses, where it comes from, who He is, and what that means; how He operates. John and James only recognized power and authority as the world gives it. They and the other Disciples did not yet understand Jesus's purpose, nor what constituted His Kingdom. 

That's why Jesus was "amazed" or "marveled" [as some versions say] at what the centurion spoke, and proclaimed "not even in Israel have I found such great faith [as this man's]!"  -- not even among His Disciples, who had traveled the breadth of Israel with Him and lived night and day with Him; who witnessed all His miracles and had spent so much intimate time with Him! The centurion had more faith and understanding than all Jesus's Disciples! 

And it was at this point in Episode 4 that The Chosen was able to express what I have missed and failed to discern in reading the Scriptures. The show was able to communicate how alone [and perhaps defeated] Jesus felt; how frustrated and disappointed. And yes, how fearful His thoughts might have been.... Will they "get it" in time? They were headed to Jerusalem next and He was barreling towards His excruciating death. He had warned them several times that this was going to happen and He would be leaving them, yet John and James's request showed that they still seemed hyper-focused on what mattered in this world -- their status, their power, recognition, pride, and ego.

For the first time, before my eyes, I saw a deeper level of Jesus's humanness and how tired He must have felt -- the anguish He must have experienced, and the burden His spirit carried as He and the Disciples began to make their way towards Jerusalem. And I felt some of that anguish in my own spirit at 4 in the morning. My heart was burdened with grief for Him and wondered aloud, Lord are we doing the same to You now? Have Your followers disappointed You? Do they still not "get" the purpose of  Your Kingdom, and will they understand in time? Have I failed You in any areas of my own understanding?  

As Jesus entered Jerusalem 2000 years ago, the world was on the verge of a new paradigm. And I am totally convinced that we are on the threshold of His return, which will usher in the biggest spiritual and physical battle the world has ever seen. So, Lord I pray for more understanding and clarity of my purpose for You and Your Kingdom. Unlike John and James [at that time in their journey with You], I am actually aware of the cup I must drink, and I pray to have Your strength to see my purpose fulfilled. But just like the Centurion, I am well aware that I am not worthy of Your grace and mercy, and I know what I believe, and You are my Savior and Redeemer and I will trust and serve You all my days.

In conclusion, I sometimes think we 21st Century Christians are no better in our doubts, deception, and self-serving beliefs than our 1st Century brethren. As discouraged as I may get over the ways we have hurt Him, I am glad it leads me to know the heart of my Lord in a deeper and more intimate way. He is closer to me than ever before, and I cannot wait for Him to come again and take me to Himself. Knowing His pain, hurt, disappointment, and anguish has only made me more determined to encourage all Christians to examine their faith. Do you truly know who He is? Do you know what He asks of you? And are you willing to walk the path He walked? If your answer is "Yes", then own your faith. Stay true to it, and BELIEVE in the One who is worthy of it!  

Ephesians 1:17    That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him