DayBreaks for 5/15/17 – Who Is It You Want?

DayBreaks for 5/15/17: Who Is It You Want?

John 18:3-5 – So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“Who is it you want?”  Jesus was always good at asking questions (still is)!  It isn’t that he didn’t know who they were coming for – he’d made it abundantly clear to his disciples that he knew exactly what was going to happen – and when – and even why.  Jesus asked questions to make those around him probe their real motives and purposes, and to make them think deeply.  His questions often make us uncomfortable – try to imagine how Judas must have felt when he first saw Jesus and Jesus asks this question.  Faced with a phalanx of armed and hostile soldiers and temple officials, calmly asks a question designed to make them contemplate what they’re doing.  It appears that they (especially the officials from the temple) didn’t recognize him – which strikes me as strange since Jesus had been in Jerusalem many times.  He’d been very open in his teaching in the temple in the past.  But they don’t seem to recognize him even though he’d been in their midst often. 

It makes me wonder how often we fail to recognize Jesus.  It was Mother Theresa who once suggested that she did what she did because when she helped the poor and dying in the steaming streets of Calcutta that in their faces she saw Jesus in a distressing disguise.  Some people see Jesus often – in acts of love, compassion, mercy – others rarely, if ever see him or recognize him. 

But as haunting as that may be, the real question is plain, and it echoes through 2000 years and it is a question that we must answer today, because Jesus asks is.  “Who is it you want?”  What a great question!  Who is it that you really want?  Do you want Jesus?  Or do you want yourself?  Or do you want your own idea of what Jesus is? 

Those who Jesus called to himself in life were called in ways that we might find shocking – almost as if Jesus really didn’t want people to come to him.  Consider the rich young ruler – who was told that he had to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor, and then come follow Jesus.  Or the man who said he had to bury his father, but was told by Jesus to “let the dead bury the dead –  you, come follow me!”  But then he’s said it to all of us, hasn’t he: Take up your cross daily and follow me.  In each case, people have to decide who it is that they really want – do we want Jesus, the real Jesus, badly enough that we’re willing to take the challenge he puts before us with this question: “Who is it  you want?”

The question is just as valid today as when Jesus asked it in the garden of Gethsemane.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Yes, they wanted him, but not for a good purpose.  The question that Jesus didn’t ask them was why they wanted him.  He already knew.  But we need to ask the question of ourselves again: “Why do I want Jesus?  Do I want him so he’ll make me feel better about myself?  So that he’ll give me a home in heaven when I die?  So I’ll have a friend?”  Those are all things that Jesus can, and will do for us, but they are not the reason we should want him.  We should want Jesus because in the life of Christ is embodied the kingdom of God – the RULE of God – throughout the universe but especially in the human heart.  We should want Jesus because of Who He IS, and not what he can do for us.  That’s what it means when Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind…and then our neighbors as ourselves.  God does care about your eternal destiny, but He’s operating on a much greater scale than just individual hearts and minds.  He’s operating on a cosmic scale to reconcile everything to Himself again through Christ.  And that’s why we should want to find Jesus.

How can I tell who it is that I really want?  Probably the best way is to look at what things in life that I chase after.  How much time do I spend reading the word, praying, memorizing scripture, sharing my faith, in developing a relationship with Jesus instead of reading fantasy novels, watching TV, going to the movies, playing sports, shopping?  Time is perhaps the most precious thing we have – and how we spend it very clearly says something about our priorities and what is truly important to us.  And I need to test my motives for why I want him, too.  In both these areas, I must remember that I cannot fool Jesus – even though I may fool myself very well, thank you.  But when I finally do come face to face with Jesus, I’ll not be able to pretend – like the soldiers, I’ll fall backwards onto the ground with the perfect knowledge that he has seen through me, and always has.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to want you more than anything else in the universe.  Help us to want you for all the right reasons, and for none of the wrong ones.  Thank you for wanting us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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DayBreaks for 05/01/12 – Am I Some Dangerous Revolutionary?

DayBreaks for 04/30/12 – Am I Some Dangerous Revolutionary?

The world's most dangerous revolutionary was born in Bethlehem

Matthew 26:52-55 – “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” 55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day.”

There are so many things about the night before Jesus’ crucifixion that touch our hearts and capture our imaginations.  Clandestine meetings, friends who betray, high drama as the disciples fear for their own lives, the solemnity of the Last Supper, the wrestling in the Garden with sleep and despair.

One of the most amazing things is that, aside from the agony in the Garden, how Jesus remained so calm.  In the passage for today, Judas has just led the soldiers to the Garden where he has given Jesus the kiss of betrayal and Peter cut off the ear of the servant.  Have you ever thought about Jesus’ astounding statement: “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me?”  How would you answer that question?

Absolutely!  He was dangerous to all that was opposed to God and in league with the devil.  He has led the greatest revolution in all history, so in that sense it was dangerous, but in many ways it was not because it is a revolution based on love, as demonstrated in his healing of the one arresting him.  There has never been a more dangerous revolutionary in the entire world.

The question, however, is whether the revolution that Jesus came to initiate has reached into your heart and mine.  No matter how long you have been a disciple of Jesus, there are parts of the revolutionizing of your heart and mind that have yet to be realized.  Ask the Spirit for the power to change and not to resist.

PRAYER: Lord, it is often hard for us to believe that Your plan for us is really the best or even that it is good!  Often, Your plan seems confusing and painful.  Let us trust in Your character, and Your promise, that Your plan for us to for good and to give us life and a future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 is now engaged in a project to provide temporary shelter, food, water and adult care to 37 orphans in Migori, Kenya.  We are trying to raise up an army of compassionate people who will each contribute whatever they can – even $5-10 each, to help us provide care for these children until our partner in the project, BrightPoint for Children, can secure sponsorships for these 37 kids.  If you want to contribute, follow this link and scroll down to find the “Donate” button: Help the 37 Migori Orphans

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