But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." (Matthew 20:22)
Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too. Matthew 26:35)
Prior to the crucifixion and the resurrection, the disciples couldn't overcome their mindset. The Jews hated their Roman rulers. They were obsessed with their desire to be free from Roman tyranny. Because of this, they filtered all Jesus' teaching through that mindset. They heard what Jesus said, but they applied it to their ultimate goal of overthrowing the Roman government.
They were convinced they were ready to die for such a great cause, but they were more convinced that this Man of miracles could assure them of victory. Therefore, they were already planning and maneuvering for their positions of authority after Jesus set up His new kingdom.
Their problem was obvious. Their focus was upon themselves and the benefit they would receive from being associated with Jesus. Can we relate to that? Don't we actually dangle the carrot of a better life in front of an unbeliever when we try to lead him to Christ? Isn't the goal really self-improvement, rather than servanthood? After all, who wants to be a servant? It is much better to emphasize the benefits than the cost. Let's face it, our approach is humanistic. We are really exalting ourselves, rather than God.
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. (John 21:3)
At this point, everything had fallen apart. Their dreams and expectations had been nailed to the cross. There was nothing left but to return to their old lifestyle. The Romans were still in authority and the future looked bleak. So they went fishing.
These were strong believers. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) They really believed Jesus was sent by God, but they missed the purpose. Their focus was on glorification of the believers, not servanthood of the believers and the glorification of God. They heard the truth, but they adapted it to their own mindset.
Are we not the same? We place expectations upon God, then we're disappointed when He doesn't fulfill those expectations as we predetermine He should. We fall away, or quit going to church, or drop out of a home group when things don't go as we expect. What do we really expect from God? Is He there to make us feel better, or are we created for His pleasure?
To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:3,9)
This is where the change took place, where the old mindset was replaced by a revelation of the living Christ. The teaching took on a different dimension, there was something much deeper in the program of God, something worth living for.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19,20)
The Romans were no longer important. The disciples had gone through the process of self-exaltation, followed by loss of all hope for their personal future, then the startling revelation of the resurrection. No one could take from them the reality of their living Christ! This was something they could die for!
They refused to shut their mouths, regardless of the opposition from those who crucified their Lord. Their lives were in jeopardy also, but that was beside the point. They finally understood the truth, there was no longer the slightest doubt in their minds. They had to share it with as many as possible.
They were in relationship with Jesus, not the relationship prior to the crucifixion, but something much deeper. Before, when they were threatened in the garden at Gethsemane, they ran for their lives. Now things were different.
There was nothing religious about this relationship. They were not occupied with the need for virtue and honesty and goodness and holiness. The facade of performance was not on their minds. They now had purpose! For the first time in their lives they had a reason to be alive!
Every disciple must come to that same revelation and relationship with Jesus. We must give Him a chance to be resurrected, to live and move and have His being in us. We must give Him every opportunity to manifest Himself in our mortal flesh.
We must take our eyes off the hope of the future, of sitting at His right hand, and concentrate upon His purpose for us in the present. We must lay down our devotion to a set of principles, and devote our attention to the living Christ. We must develop the same passion for the resurrected Christ as Peter and James and John.
We will not see Him face to face until we join Him in heaven, but we can experience the relationship we need through His Spirit. We can speak to Him in our prayers, and listen to Him as we journal our quiet times. We can watch Him move sovereignly in our lives as we depend upon His strength to guide, direct and protect us.
It is time to examine ourselves. Have we passed beyond the need for self-exaltation? Have we struggled through the loss of all hope in ourselves? Until we have gone through the same process as the original disciples, we can't live as they lived, in the revelation of the indwelling, resurrected, living Christ.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: How much revelation do I have of the living Christ?