Tuesday, August 16, 2016

To whom is He speaking?

The disciple has to be always ready to move on a moment's notice, even to change direction, not taking anything for granted, not following a principle at all costs, but willing to submit all principles, plans and priorities to the will of Jesus.

This is different from the following of a religion, though like Jesus, the disciple can belong to a religion, keeping its commandments, fulfilling whatever role has fallen to him. Also like Jesus, he can challenge his religion without being unfaithful to it.

To whom is Jesus speaking in the gospels? Is he speaking to every man? It seems so. Yet when He calls and commands, He speaks directly only to those to whom His words are directed. When He enjoins the ‘great commission’ to whom is He speaking?

We tend to identify with certain characters in the gospels in preference to others. We hear Jesus’ word to an apostle, for example, and taking that word as spoken personally to us, we go forth to fulfill it without asking ourselves, ‘to whom is He speaking?’

When He tells the rich young man, ‘One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,’ can we just decide to claim that word without asking ourselves, ‘to whom is He speaking?’

We want to prove our personal faith, and to that end we will fasten onto a bible verse that implies a promise, and hold God responsible for delivering on the promise. This is the so-called ‘name it and claim it’ philosophy which has been the undoing of many.

With the word of Jesus, we cannot as easily fall into this error because His sayings demand action on our part, not just faith. True, He sometimes asks us if we believe what He says or who He is, and that can be affirmed only by our word of faith. Yet that word must still be followed up by an act of obedience.

‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’

After Martha had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here, and is asking for you.’

Do we think that Jesus is speaking only to Martha when He asks her, ‘Do you believe this?’ Some would say yes, but most would understand that this question He asks He asks of all. This is in fact why John has recorded the conversation, so that every man can respond to Jesus’ word of truth with his own word of faith.

Herein lies the difference. The Lord asks Martha if she believes, and she affirms her faith. He gives her a command to call her sister to Him. The first saying of Jesus is asked of all. His second saying is a command spoken only to Martha, not to us. If we respond with our word of faith, Jesus speaks His command also to us, one by one, recorded or unrecorded, to everyone of His disciples till the end of time. We need not ask, ‘to whom is He speaking?’ because we know.

This is personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not a word of faith only, which is of no effect, but a word of faith followed by acts of obedience, because as Jesus says, ‘My sheep know My voice,’ and as beloved John foresaw, ‘they follow the Lamb wherever He goes.’ Only those who personally follow Jesus are in a relationship, of love. ‘Draw me in Your footsteps, let us run…’

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