September 19, 2016

Disciples are marked by perseverance

While it is usually children who get into an “I’m the best” contest, Jesus’ disciples had at least one argument about which one of them would be the greatest. I wonder if Jesus chuckled as He told them that the greatest in His kingdom would be those willing to be the least in status. They could be leaders, but leaders must be willing to serve. He pointed to Himself as an example. Then He told them what really mattered . . .

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28–30)

“You are those who have stayed with me . . . .” This isn’t about greatness! The followers of Jesus Christ are marked by a persistent devotion to Him, sticking by Him in His trials.

This word ‘trial’ means “an attempt to learn the nature or character of someone or something by submitting it to thorough and extensive testing.” Jesus uses the perfect tense of this verb, meaning that they had stayed with Him the past and would continue to do so on into the future.

We have the biblical record of Jesus being tested by all sorts of things. The disciples stayed with Him through almost all of it, fleeing only when He was arrested to be crucified. However, they later fulfilled what He said they would do; most of them were martyred for their faith. They stuck with Jesus no matter what, which is the mark of genuine faith.

This persistent faithfulness is not just about the first disciples. It applies to all who profess faith in Jesus Christ, including me. I can endure because He lives in me and gives me that same endurance to stay with Him, no matter what.

The Bible does not say trials ‘like’ those He experienced, but His actual trials. How can that be since He is not here? But He is here, living in me. Our experiences are shared.

To illustrate, my relationship in Christ is something like a sheet of paper slipped inside a book. Jesus is the book. Wherever He goes; I go. He stops to rest; I stop to rest. I am tested and He knows it. He is tested with lies from the enemy; I hear the same lies.

In the above verses, Jesus says that His disciples are those who continue with Him. That means I will not fall out of the book, out of being in Him. This is where God has put me and where He keeps me. If I sin against the One in whom I dwell, God says I will suffer loss, but like the book hides the paper, Jesus covers my sin. He continues with me, saving me, keeping me. I cannot live without Him, and the silliness of my sin is but a temporary set-back. He keeps me hidden in Himself.

In this relationship, every time I am tested, Jesus is there. Every time Satan presses to have Jesus abandon God’s plan, I am there too. Whether it is Jesus who is tested or me, I most certainly experience the reality of those tests!

Because of this incredible God-given union with Christ, I am with Him in His trials, and He is covering me in my trials. I may not always be aware of all that goes on in this spiritual war, but my awareness is not the issue. The issue is that God has put me in His kingdom and in Christ and gives me the power to endure. There I stay, sometimes foolishly resisting, but most of the time joyfully grateful for His amazing grace.

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