Monday, March 9, 2015, 2:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 22:39-46 (NASB).
The Disciples Followed
And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.
A disciple is a believer, a follower, a student and a devotee of the one whom he follows; “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another” (M-W). Jesus selected twelve men to be his closest disciples and followers in ministry. One of them, Judas, betrayed him to death. In grief, Jesus denounced him before the other disciples, though he did not name him. Now Jesus had eleven disciples in his inner circle, yet he had other followers, as well. The eleven disciples followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are his disciples (his sheep). Jesus said that his sheep know him, they listen to him and they follow (obey) him (See: John 10). We believe that Jesus Christ died to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to walk daily in his righteousness. In the power of the Spirit within us we live like we believe that. When we accepted God’s invitation to his great salvation, we willingly died with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, and we were resurrected with Christ to new lives in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24).
Yet, we know from reading scripture that there are those among us who are not his true followers. They may make a profession of Jesus Christ as Savior of their lives, but their hearts are far from him. They may even go through all the motions of being a follower, and they may fool many people, but they never truly died with Christ to sin, and not ever did they submit their lives to the cross of Christ and to him as their Lord and Master. And, so, they betray him by their very lifestyles in thought, word and in deed.
Prayer and Temptation
When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Jesus knew what was coming. The disciples did not, even though he had told them, because they just couldn’t comprehend it all, and/or because they didn’t want to believe it. He knew they would all fall away on account of him, but they were confident they would not. So, this is why he instructed them to pray so they would not enter into temptation, because he knew what was about to befall them all. Yet, because they remained confident they would not fall away, they remained vulnerable or susceptible to giving in to temptation.
Oh, how this should serve as a wake-up call to us all! How many warnings did the Lord give us in his Word? How many of them are concerning allowing sin to creep back into our lives? How many about falling into temptation? How many about falling away? How many about following after false teaching that tickles itching ears? How many about living in spiritual adultery and idolatry and forsaking our first love? How many about living complacent and lukewarm Christian lives unconcerned about what is coming? And, the list goes on. And, yet, how many believers in Jesus ignore these warnings or don’t take them seriously? And, so, they escape into the things of this sinful world to fill their lives in place of filling their lives with the things of God and which matter for eternity. He is saying to us, “Wake up!”
Remove This Cup
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Jesus, nonetheless, knew the reality of what was about to take place. He knew the pain and suffering he would have to endure so that we could be saved from our sins. Not only was he hated, despised, rejected, persecuted, falsely accused, spat upon, mocked, beaten, falsely imprisoned and hung on a cross to die a painful death, as though he was a criminal, but he took upon himself the sins of the entire world.
I know the pain of my own sins which I committed throughout my life, and that is bad enough. And, I was born into sin and sinned by nature. Jesus Christ, God the Son, never sinned, even though he was tempted. So, my holy and righteous God took upon himself the weight, pain and utter filth of all the sins of all people, past, present and future. Wow! Yet, he did this because he loved us, and because he wanted to free us from the control of sin over our lives and to free us to walk daily in his righteousness, as well as to free us from eternity in hell and to give us the hope of eternal life with God.
Because Jesus lived in a flesh body, he would feel all the pain he knew he must go through for all of us. So, in grief and pain, he called out to the Father and asked if there was any way this cup of suffering could be removed from him. Yet, if not, he wanted God’s will to be done. He yielded to his Father in heaven and he submitted to his will. I don’t believe Jesus was willing that our sin might not be atoned for, but his flesh cried out to the Father in desperation to see if there could be any other way our salvation could be provided for short of him having to die for our sins. Yet, he was willing to go the distance for you and for me, and so he surrendered his flesh and his spirit to the will of the Father, and he chose to die so we could go free. Then the Father sent an angel to comfort and strengthen him.
Jesus told us, his followers, that being his disciples would mean that we would be treated like he was treated, and that many would be put to death for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel. He said we would be hated, rejected, persecuted and falsely accused because of him. Yet, we also live in flesh bodies, and our flesh does not always take kindly to such treatment. And, so, there may be times when we cry out to God in our suffering, and we ask that, if he wills, that it could pass from us, too. Yet, we should also remain submissive to the Father’s will for our lives, realizing he knows what is best for us, and realizing, too, that he has plans and purposes for our lives far beyond our ability to comprehend. Our thoughts are not his thoughts nor are his ways our ways, that is in our flesh, although as we grow closer to him we should begin to think and act more like him.
Get Up and Pray
When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
When Jesus finished praying, he found his disciples sleeping, so he told them to get up and pray so that they would not enter into temptation. Obviously they did not comprehend the reality of the hour which was upon them, at least not to its fullest extent. All they knew is that Jesus kept talking about how he was going to be betrayed and killed, and that brought sorrow into their hearts. Yet, rather than put on the armor of God, it appears they escaped their pain through sleep. It sounds to me like they were depressed over the things Jesus was telling them. And, depressed people often try to escape pain rather than confront it.
I find that many who profess the name of Jesus today are sleeping, i.e. they are escaping the reality of what scripture teaches by retreating into false teaching, mainly because the reality of what scripture teaches is too hard and is uncomfortable for them, and because they don’t want to accept that reality, and/or because there is sin they want to hold on to. So, they have bought into a false grace which is easier for them to accept.
This false grace teaches them that all they have to do is “believe” in Jesus, although “belief” is not really explained. And, they teach them that they don’t have to repent of (turn from) their sins, and they don’t have to obey Jesus, and that God, in fact, requires nothing of them at all, other than to “believe,” but a “belief” absent of true repentance, submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. And, yet, the teachings of Jesus and those of the apostles repudiate such a notion as what is being taught by these false ministers of the gospel (See the book of 1 John, in particular). This does not mean we will live in sinless perfection, but what it does mean is that our lifestyles should reflect true faith in Christ.
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny his self-life, die daily to sin and self, and follow him in obedience. He said if we hold on to our old lives of sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die to sin and self, we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). Paul taught the same. He said that coming to Christ means we forsake our former lives of sin, we are transformed in heart and mind, and we put on our new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24). He taught that the grace of God, which brings us salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for Christ’s return. He taught that Jesus gave himself up for us to “redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (See Tit. 2:11-14). And, he also taught that Jesus died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15; cf. Ro. 6-8).
So, I believe Jesus is asking much of the church today, “Why are you sleeping?” And, he is instructing the church to “Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Basically, he is calling his church out of complacency, out of spiritual adultery, and out of lifestyles given over to idolatry, and he is calling them to wake up from their slumber and to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for their lives. Will you hear him?
My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.