Saturday, 27 June 2015

The others centered God

I was reading through the final few chapters of Luke earlier this week and for the first time ever I noticed just how much of the content expresses Jesus’ concern for others. Even here during the final 24 hours of his life, where He is about to undergo such incredible personal suffering, we are reminded of just how others centered He was. While not fully comprehended, it is well documented that Jesus suffering and death in itself were selfless acts done for you and me. In becoming man, the immortal God gained access to death, that He might taste it and overcome it in order that we may have everlasting life in Him. But even beyond that, we see in the events leading up to His actual death and resurrection the constant giving of Himself to others.

Consider some of what we read in the Gospels of John and Luke leading up to His death. Put yourself in His shoes, knowing what He knew how you would have spent your last moments or acted under similar circumstances? Starting in John 13, Jesus and the disciples have gathered to celebrate the Passover meal. After supper He washes their feet, including the feet of Judas whom He knew was about to betray Him (v 11). He then proceeds through the chapters 13 – 16 to warn His disciples about what is about to happen, to prepare them, give them some final instructions and comfort them. In chapter 16 verse 1 He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble”. Chapter 17 is then a prayer which is almost entirely focused on His disciples and those who would later become followers of Christ. In Luke 22:32 Jesus offers a specific prayer for Peter that his faith would not fail.

The scene now moves to the Mount of Olives. Jesus withdraws to go and pray but takes 3 of his disciples with Him; He does not ask them to pray with Him or for Him but to pray for THEMSELVES that THEY would not enter into temptation (Luke 22:40,46)! A few hours pass and Judas, along with a great multitude of troops, officers and priests arrive to seize Him. In John 18:8 we read, “I am the one you are looking for, let these ones go”, which probably saved the lives of those who were with Him. Moments later Peter gets a rush of blood to the head and cuts off the servant of the high priests ear. While any normal person would be in self preservation mode right then, Jesus takes the time to heal the servants ear (Luke 22:51).

Several hours later, Jesus has been unfairly sentenced to death; He has already been severely beaten and is walking toward the place of His crucifixion. Luke 23:27-28 says, “And a great multitude of people followed Him, and woman who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for YOURSELVES and YOUR children.” Still further on and we see Jesus now nailed to a cross, slowly and painfully moving towards death, He manages to utter a few short words, seven sentences in total are recorded in the Gospels. One is in Luke 22:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”. Another is in John 19:25-27 where Jesus basically says to John, “Take care of my mom”. Verse 27 tells us that from that time onward John took Mary into his own home to look after her.  

What kind of a man is this? Sit and consider these verses within the context of what was going on around them. The depths of His love are endless even toward His enemies. May we grow in our love toward others just as He has loved and given Himself for us! I found a verse right at the start of John 13 which really captured the essence of everything else I have shared here. I hope that it gives you a deeper sense of the love that Jesus (and the Father) have toward you and others.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”

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