Return to the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
Yes, you know Jesus. That’s fantastic, but does The Lord Jesus know you? I’ve asked myself this question several times as I was growing in the knowledge of the Lord. I don’t anymore…because I now know with certainty that He does know me.
But I didn’t earlier on as a Christian. As I read about Paul, Peter and the other disciples in the bible, and as I observed the brethren and leaders in the churches, I wasn’t so sure if the faith we proclaim was in fact the same as what the disciples had.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, the apostle Paul writes:
“Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting’s often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches. “
Wow! Isn’t that amazing? I ask you a question: What is it that can cause a human being just like you and me (Paul) to be willing to endure all of this and still keep believing what He claims to believe? He could’ve easily said, “Flag this, why should I go through all of this? I pray, I fast, I serve God whole heartedly and yet I get to experience all of this? Why doesn’t He protect me? In any case I am saved and I preach the gospel. If you don’t want to believe, why should I care? I will go run my tent building business, make some money so I can live comfortably…and as and when I get an opportunity, I will share the gospel. Who needs all of this? Beatings, stonings, bleeding…surely God wants me to be wise and make wise decisions. He wants me to have an “abundant” life.
Most of us would probably do that. But no!! Paul willingly chose to endure all of that and counted it all joy for the sake of Christ. That’s weird in today’s world….don’t you think? Peter, another disciple of Christ asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy enough to be crucified right side up. What is it that causes a normal human being to endure all of that and yet not hate, not get violent and not renounce their faith? How is it they continue to spread love despite being treated so badly? How many are willing to demonstrate that kind of faith today?
In many countries, even today, Christians face persecution. Christians are beaten up, churches burnt down and in some other countries, even beheaded and killed.
When you watch these people, their stories somehow seem to fit right in as another chapter in the bible. That tells me that their faith is in line with the faith of Paul, Peter and other disciples. That assures me that their faith is genuine. Obviously I don’t mean that all of us have to go looking for trouble just to prove our faith. But it certainly made me examine myself and ask, “If I were in that situation, what would I have done? Would I endure like them and still pray for my persecutors? Would I still bless those who were beating me up and continue to share the love of Christ with them?
I’ve come to realize that genuine faith has got to do with how you SEE Jesus!! Do you see Him as Lord and Saviour of us sinful men or USEFUL to sinful men? In other words, Come to Jesus, He will heal you, He will prosper you, He will give you peace, He will bless you financially, He will take your problems away because He is the answer to your problems….OR I am a sinful person and am separated from God. I NEED a Savior. It’s impossible for me to make it on my own to heaven. I need a Savior.
I realized the latter. Jesus rescued me and reconciled me to my Father. I am far from being perfect, but now I belong to Him and I have eternity to look forward to with hope and joy. He is truly Lord over my life.
Read John 6:1-29
This is an amazing story of how Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread and two fish to feed the multitudes. Jesus did not come into the world to “give” bread, but to “BE” bread. He said, “I AM the bread of life. He who eats of me will not hunger.” Jesus was not and is not looking for fans, but disciples. He did not come to be USEFUL, but to be PRECIOUS. He came to be your only life support!! He didn’t come to “assist” you in meeting desires you already had before you became a Christian. He came to change those desires, so that He becomes your primary desire. The person of Jesus Himself, the relationship, the intimacy with Him. Not merely the STUFF that He can give.
He definitely cares about our needs and our health whilst we are here on earth, but there’s something much better coming. Eternal life….Life forever….no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death, forever youthful, no more anxiety, no more struggle with temptations, no more depression, no more hatred and violence, only joy, only love….Yes! That is coming…Praise the Lord. The best news for us Christians is that on the other side, there is life….Life Eternal!!
But here in this story, in verse 2 we see a huge crowd following Him because they SAW signs. Jesus was about to show them a sign by multiplying bread. His intention was to try and get them to SEE that He Himself was the bread. He wasn’t trying to show off His talent and entertain the crowds.
A “sign” by definition is something that points you to the “source” of the sign. If you saw a milestone on a highway stating "Auckland 92 KMS", then its a sign pointing to Auckland. The stone itself is obviously not Auckland. Likewise, If you get healed miraculously, it’s a sign for you to consider the Lord and get closer to Him. If you get a miraculous provision, it’s a sign for you to look to the source. That’s what signs are meant for. Signs, wonders and miracles in your life are meant to point you to the source, which is the person of Jesus Himself.
However, in this story the people SAW His signs and thought He was cool to be made king. They thought “He is cool, He can feed us, He can heal us, He can prosper us, He can bless us…..What else do we need? That’s all we need isn’t it? We’ll go to church on Sundays if required as long as He keeps doing the cool stuff.”
In verses 16 through to 25, we see Jesus walking on water. Another awesome sign that He was and is the Son of God and has control over creation. In verse 24, the bible says “when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.”
Someone “seeking” Jesus…that’s good, don’t you think?...But Jesus withdrew from them.
In verse 26, Jesus says “You are seeking me not because you SAW the signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves.”
Jesus was angry with them because they saw Him as USEFUL. “Useful to fulfill their desires for more stuff. They sought Jesus because they knew He could feed them, He could multiply stuff, just give Him your stuff and He can multiply it for you….Some even thought He was a cool performer to watch. They failed to look to the source of the “sign” and recognize Him as the PRECIOUS Savior. Instead they got mesmerized by the sign itself.
The rest of the verses in John 6 talks about Jesus Himself being the bread of life. Read through verses 50-66. Jesus teaches some radical stuff here. Jesus was and is clearly not looking for fans but committed disciples. He came to show us that without Him, we have no hope. He is not just a genie who can work miracles and keep us entertained and satisfied. He is our “life support” without whom we are dead and without whom our only eternal destination is hell.
When Jesus becomes truly the Lord and Savior of your lives, when intimacy with Him is all you want and your focus is not on the “stuff” He can give you or “miracles” He can do for you, then you end up like one of the disciples in the bible and also get to live the abundant life full of peace, joy and happiness.
Life in Christ is not about stuff and material blessings He can give you. Life in Christ is not even about miracles, healings, gold dust, prosperity or a blessed life. It is about reconciliation to God our Father. It’s about intimacy with our Creator. It’s about hope of eternity. It’s about moving away from the things and principles of this world and living in simple love for one another. Its about living in humility without differentiating people based on their wealth or position in society or language or culture. Its about treating a wealthy person and a poor laborer with the same love of Christ. Its about considering each one as a brother or sister in the Lord, sharing what we have with each other…..that’s a picture of God’s family. That’s a picture of sons and daughters of God who claim to have a common Father.
When you can really see Jesus like that, then it’s not hard for you to believe that Your God will never leave you nor forsake you. It’s not hard to believe that Your God will indeed supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. It’s not hard for you to believe that Your God can and will work miracles when required to fulfill His purposes in you. And on the same note, it is also easy “not to” lose faith when things go wrong, when you are sick and don’t get healed or when you get persecuted for your faith.
When you have an intimate walk with the Lord Jesus like that, not because of what He can do for you or what He can give you, but because you love Him and because He is precious to you, then rest assured, you will experience His closeness to you like never before. You will experience peace that can't be explained. You will find life fulfilling and you will find yourself simply content and satisfied. That's because you have the source of Life itself in you. But when you are looking to Jesus for what He can do for you or for what He can give you, then you'll always find yourself distanced from Him and always find the need for a hand out. You will always be wanting.
So friends, I ask again…Does Jesus know you? It’s not enough that you know Him.
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.
True freedom is freedom from self-centeredness. Dying to yourself, your wants, your desires and to what gives you pleasure for the sake of others is more liberating than you think.