Do you ever wonder if Jesus felt a little bit like a fool?
I know that question just ruffled a whole bunch of religious feathers. Some of you reading this just had a very visceral response to that question. And that’s probably a good thing.
But this is a serious question that I’m asking. Do you ever wonder if Jesus felt a little bit like a fool? Ever wonder if he thought that this whole thing of preaching to an unresponsive people, having the crap kicked out of him, suffering and dying wasn’t really worth it for the pay off?
Now, if we’re biblical Christians, we know the spiritual answer to this, right? In his divinity, Jesus knew precisely the reason he had come, he knew what he would suffer, he knew that he would be mocked and scorned and beaten and killed. He knew. And he did it anyway.
But in his humanity, you have to wonder if, at some point, he was like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? This isn’t what I signed up for! Am I a fool for doing this?”
Maybe you don’t wonder about those things but I do.
With all that has happened with me and my family over the last few months, I’ve felt this way at times. The anger is gone (well, mostly) by the grace of God and the help of a good and godly counselor. But the questions remain. And I don’t think there are any easy answers.
Most recently, as I’ve been frantically job searching, I’ve been dealing with a lot of these questions and feelings; questions like, “Was I a fool to leave security behind to follow Jesus on this path?”
If I’m being honest, I feel a little bit like a fool. I had a really secure job and was on the down hill slope of what had been a good career. I had served my community and, through that, my country for many faithful years. Sure, there were things about being a police officer that sucked but overall, it is an honorable, courageous and mostly thankless calling. I still have many friends, brothers, sisters and colleagues that lay their lives on the line every day. I miss those friends. There is something about risking your life together that binds you to each other; it is a tie not swiftly broken.
So this is a hard question and place for me. Was I foolish? Have I risked the safety and well being of my wife and family for nothing except heartache and pain?
Maybe you’re in the same boat as me right now. Maybe you’re asking yourself some hard questions. Maybe the enemy is twisting things to deceive you and, even though you know that it’s not true, you feel that there are no easy answers and you don’t know where to go.
May I take this opportunity to tell you something? Despite what these false teachers out there will tell you, life is not always going to go swell for you if you follow Jesus. You may not have health and wealth and prosperity. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the New Testament speaks to the suffering that will come your way if you follow Jesus. Don’t believe me? Let me explain.
I’m reading through the Gospel of Matthew right now. Here’s where I am right now.
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved…A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!...So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows…He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
This is Matthew 10:22, 24-25, 31, 37-39 (NASB)
This seems pretty clear to me and I hope will be an encouragement to you as well. Jesus made no bones about what life as his disciple would be. If we are his disciples, we will be hated, we will know fear and we will have to give up all that we hold dear, take up our cross and follow after him.
But why, we ask ourselves? Why does it have to be this way?
Because a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.
But it is enough that we become like the Teacher and enough that we become like the Master. Endure, brothers and sisters. Hold fast to Jesus, for he is holding fast to you! Don’t be afraid (I struggle with this) but take up your cross and follow Jesus.
One day we will see Jesus face to face!
On that day, neither you nor I will regret following him for then we shall have our reward; we shall see him as he is!
Soli Deo Gloria!
I denied Jesus yesterday.
I didn’t, like, stand up in public with a microphone and say, “Jesus isn’t real,” or anything like that. I didn’t post about my denial on Facebook, ‘cause we all know it’s not official until it’s FB official. Am I right?
But I denied him.
Right to his face.
I told him that I regretted following him, that my life was a lot easier before I followed him, that things made way more sense and there was way less pain before he found me and I heard his call and followed him. I told him, using not nice words, that my whole life for the last 7 years or so had been pain on top of pain. Strangely enough, he didn’t strike me dead.
Pain makes us do some weird things, I’m learning. I’ve heard it said that we see our true character come out during hard times. I don’t know if I agree with that completely ‘cause pain can make you do things that you ordinarily may not ever do. Fear can do that also.
The Apostle Peter, before he was known as the Apostle Peter, knew this to be true also. Mark’s gospel records it for us this way,
“And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:66-72)
Before we go all judgmental on our brother Peter, let’s put ourselves in his position for a second. Everything he had come to believe in was disintegrating right before his eyes. The one he had proclaimed as Lord and Christ, the Son of God, was being beaten and mocked before his very eyes. His very identity was being beaten to death. His whole world was coming apart in front of his eyes and he was powerless to stop it.
Don’t be too hard on Peter. He was afraid. He was in pain.
What would you do?
What would you do if all you had come to believe was blown apart in front of your face, if the one you said was God and Lord and Christ seemed powerless to stop what was happening, if your very identity had been taken from you and stripped naked and beaten before your eyes, if your whole world was coming apart and you were powerless to stop it?
What would you do?
I’ll tell you what I’ve done recently, what I did yesterday. I denied Jesus. Just like Peter, I turned my back on him. Oh I didn’t deny him in front of people. Only he could hear me say what I said to him. Only he heard me say, “I wish I’d never followed you.”
And then this morning I was walking my daughter to school. She has yelled at her sister. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: “You yelled at your sister this morning. I know you did that because you’ve heard me yell at you. I’m sorry that I yelled at you and now you think that’s okay. Don’t be like me. It’s not okay to yell. We need to be kind to each other, like Jesus. I need you to help me. Will you remind me to be kind?”
Her: “I forgive you, Daddy. I’ll help you.”
And I began to cry.
In that moment, my daughter showed me the love of my Saviour. She forgave me and said she would help me. That’s what Jesus does when we repent. That’s what Jesus does when we bring our brokenness to him and say ugly things to him and deny him. He says, “I forgive you. I’ll help you.”
Your pain is real. Your fear is real.
So is mine.
But we have a loving Saviour and Friend, who is Jesus Christ our Lord, who forgives us just like he did Peter. I hope this encourages you today, friend, wherever you are and whatever you are going through. Even when we turn our backs on Jesus, he doesn’t turn his back on us. He will forgive you. He will help you.
That’s called grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!