Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Thursday Thoughts: What’s So Hard About Getting It Right?

June 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, Thursday Thoughts

The apostle John had every advantage.  He walked with Jesus, was around for many dramatic events in the life and teaching of Christ.  He saw the Master do things that we can only imagine.  He was faithful to Jesus as well, while he soaked in wisdom from the Christ.  So why is it that in Luke 9, Jesus needs to repeatedly correct John for seemingly wanting to help Christ?

The first time, John wants to stop a person casting out demons, who is not “with” Jesus and his followers:

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”
But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Luke 9:49-50 (NKJV)

Shortly thereafter, we see John wanting to burn up people that were against Jesus:

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV)

The irony of both of these events is that he was actually trying to do what he perceived to be good things.  In the first, he is seemingly trying to keep others from doing what John perceived that only Jesus and his followers should be doing (what some references would refer to as “sectarianism”).  In the other, he seems interested in allowing no man to turn Jesus away (perhaps taking far too much on themselves to command anything to come down from heaven).  Clearly in both, John has the utmost respect for what Jesus is doing here on earth, in being protective of both Jesus and his followers.

Jesus makes it clear that these things John wants to do are simply wrong.  It would have been fascinating to see how John reacted to this correction; was he sad and dejected?  Or resolute to learn more?

This makes a salient point for us.  We can easily start to think that because of our faith, willingness to say how much we love the Lord, and how we only want to serve him that we cannot mess up.  Somehow, we could never be wrong in our understanding and teaching.  Simply because we are Christians, we’ve got the right answer.  We should all challenge ourselves to think again.  Twice, John displays nothing but loyalty to the man he follows.  And twice, Jesus must instruct him to see the situation more clearly.  Here, Jesus well exemplifies the statements in Isaiah 55:7-9:

Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:7-9

Consider the words of the Lord daily and strive to not stand on our own comprehension and rationalization.  Just like John, it will only come up short of the teachings of Christ.

–Lewis Wheaton

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