Saturday, 16 July 2022

Our Father in Heaven

Jesus endured everything that was thrown at Him because the love of the Father and His desire to do the will of His Father was the only thing that mattered to Him
There is a scene in the original children’s animated film “The Lion King” which I love. Simba, the young son of the leader of the pride Mufasa wanders off into the wilderness in search of an elephant’s graveyard – an undoubtedly scary and exciting place for a young cub to be. However, the whole thing has been staged by Simba’s evil uncle Scar who want to be “King of the beasts” himself. When Simba gets to the graveyard, he is ambushed by a pack of hyenas who have been sent to kill him. They encircle him, mock and taunt him into trying to roar. His attempt to do this is pretty pathetic producing a sound more like a cat mewing than a lion roaring. However, on his second or third attempt he and the hyenas are shocked to the core when he produces an earth – shattering roar that reverberates around the graveyard! The young cub is trying to work out what has happened when the hyenas see and then experience the wrath of Simba’s dad who has been standing hidden behind him having been tipped off about the young cub’s whereabouts. The father deals with the hyenas and then turns his attention to his mischievous son who had gotten himself into this fix. In the end after some straight talking the conclusion is reached “no one messes with Simba’s dad”!

At different stages in our lives, we all have someone that we look to for that extra bit of confidence. People who have confidence in us and back us up, people who we trust and love, people who as the old saying goes know the worst about us and have our backs anyway. It could be a teacher, a boss, a friend, a parent, a spouse – all very valuable and extremely welcome support and protection. Often the reason why people are willing to guard our backs in this way is not about our capability or dependability – it is about relationship, integrity and love. As I write these words I think about the relationships in our fellowship – the relationships around us – around me – They are a blessing beyond words and the value of some only eternity will reveal.

Then I find myself thinking of Jesus. A scribe once said to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. The scripture tells us that Jesus replied “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20). John 7:5 tells us about His family “For even His brothers did not believe in Him”. John 6:66 tells us that “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more”. Jesus, we find had plenty of reason not to trust mankind. John concludes at an early point (John 2 v 23): Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Jesus was, from a human point of view, a target from the day that He began His ministry and probably long before – especially if we look at the events around His birth. Herod tried to kill Him, the political elite ganged up against Him, even at His birth. Once He “went public” 30 years later, His wrangles with the religious and political leaders became serious to the point of them trying to secure His arrest and death on numerous occasions. They tried to get Him by trickery and false accusation, they tried to catch Him in His speech, they tried to “set Him up” and in the end they paid informers including Judas to secure a conviction. Even after all that they had heard and seen the disciples, on the week of His trial were found arguing with each other about who would be greatest. The disciples were not constant – even Peter having had the revelation of Jesus being the Messiah is found in a place of rebuke for trying to hinder God’s will and then the denial which broke him to tears.

So, Jesus had a fight on His hands from start to finish! There was no one that He could really trust – or was there?
John 3:35: The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

John 5:20: For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel

Matthew 3:17: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 17:5: suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

John 17:20-26: … as You, Father, are in Me and I in You … that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me … that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You

So, Jesus not only knew His Father but was convinced of His love and had a deep communion with Him. Jesus endured everything that was thrown at Him because the love of the Father and His desire to do the will of His Father was the only thing that mattered to Him. His mission – the will of the Father – was our redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus was sold completely to that goal. He knew that the only way that He could succeed was to follow the Father’s will completely. This is where His confidence came from – from being secure in the love of the Father and just wanting to please Him. His Father guided Him through all of the tricks of His enemies – spiritual and human – the bond between them was the key to the victorious life that Jesus had. The answer to every question was “Father – what do you want me to say or do”? The Father guided His answers, directed Him who to meet, who His disciples should be, where He should go, when to be wary, when to do miracles. His Father enabled Him to pass through crowds unseen, testified to the truth of His words and complete the work that He was sent to do.

John seems to take delight in setting this out for us; unlike the other gospels he often adds chunks of Jesus’ teaching at the end of one account or another especially His exchanges with the Jewish leaders whose motives excluded them from the Kingdom but not from hearing amazing truth. Amongst all of this John also points to the fact that Jesus is here to bring us to the Father – and what amazing things come to the one who seeks to do the will of the Father. For example, John 7:17 says: “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own” – anyone can find out what God’s message is… and there is much more.

Well, the full extent of all of this hit me on Sunday night when in communion Herby took us again to the Garden of Gethsemane in mind and Spirit. He focussed on the loneliness of Jesus in the garden. He was uttering a prayer that could only be denied to be answered: He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:35-36). This prayer, in the context of the disciples not being able to pray because of the heavy sense of sorry, leads directly to them running off, Jesus’ trial, Peter’s predicted denial and the cross. Then come the words of Mark 15:34: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We cannot know the silence and torment that Jesus experienced at that moment as the one relationship that He had known since childhood and had always been there was wrenched from Him…

Jesus although He is the “Lion of Judah” came not as a lion but the Lamb of sacrifice. Until His time came to be offered, no one could prevail against Him, because despite all that His Father had to permit to happen to His Son, Jesus had an unwavering determination to do the Father’s will and nothing else. On the day of resurrection however, we have the risen son, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – victorious and waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool. His pronouncement? (John 20:17) “I go to My Father and Your Father; to My God and Your God”! A fulfilment of Jesus’ assertion to the Jews that He knew where He had come from and where He was returning to – and including us in fulfillment of His John 17 prayer. If we remember who’s will we are doing in a desperate moment we will stand in the feet of Jesus and walk His path. (Sometimes however we might in the Spirit hear a mighty roar from behind us) …

Thoughts to leave with us:
What does Jesus teach me about doing the will of the Father?
In what ways has Jesus brought us close to the Father?

Author: Chris Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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