“Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He: if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way…'” John 18:8
You’d think I’d remember to save frequently. But sometimes I get too caught up in the moment and just keep going until…yes, the glitch comes and wipes every last word into some unknown place in my computer, into the land of nowhere. But the whole point of today is about how You save us continually and how You have always been saving us even before we knew it.
I want to look at three responses today. And I see these three responses stemming from Your Word today. I want to look at Your response, the response of the band of men who had come out to capture You, and the response of the disciples. And I want to look at them all in terms of Your will. But what is Your will for me, for us, anyway? And I just want to sound off with 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” The important fact of this truth is that this takes place through the process of our salvation.
Salvation was never a one time deal. Salvation takes preparation. Salvation takes surrender. And salvation takes continual work. What? This sounds like dangerous stuff here. No, it isn’t. Because salvation is never according to what I can do. I can’t do it. Salvation and it’s work is all done by the power of Someone Else. I don’t have that power. And I better realize it right now.
Who has that power? Well, let’s start with You, Jesus, by looking at Your response. You spoke Your eternal name “I AM” and the whole arresting party fell to the ground. This party that was not seeking You to worship You was brought to their knees by You. The same word “seek” that ought to mean “worship” here, in the negative means “to plot against.” So You demonstrated Your power to these men who came to plot against You, the One who could make them fall at the sound of Your voice. And they never got that. But instead of bringing down the wrath of God on those who deserve it, You surrender to these lesser authorities. You give in to the will of man…but only because it was Your will in the first place.
So here I’ve seen the humble beyond measure response of the Ultimate Authority. And the ever so unhumble response of the arresting party, remaining unchanged in their response to You. But Your response doesn’t end there. You release Your disciples. You give them the “OK” to leave You, literally. “Let these go their way.” The Greek word for “go their way”, “hupago” carries the meaning here not just of withdrawing or retiring but also implies “a final departure from being another’s companion.” (Bob Jones) It’s like You were saying, “Let them leave me and go back to their own ways. Let them decide.” So when they left, what did they decide? What was their response?
I’m going to look at Peter’s response, the one who said “I will never leave You or forsake You!” In the upper room, while everyone was despondent because their whole belief system had been shattered, Peter decided, “I’m going fishing.” And that doesn’t just mean that he was going to think for a little while. It’s that “hupago” accompanied by a verb form of fishing that implies continual fishing. Peter was abandoning the Lord and what he had come to believe and going back to his old life and old ways. So Peter left. And his friends followed. Oh, the effects of the choices we make on those around us!
But, Jesus, You knew this would happen. It was part of Your plan. You already released Peter and the other disciples. I’ve been there and done that too. And just like You came back for Peter, You came back for me. But really, You never left either of us. We left You.
So You come to Peter and You ask him, “Peter, do you love me more than you love this life of yours?” And Peter knows he can’t answer back with the same love You have asked about. He doesn’t love You with “agape” , “self-sacrificial” love like You love Him. He already demonstrated this by his choices, by his response to deny, to run, and to leave You. And even though all Peter has is a lesser love, You tell him to take that lesser love and lead Your young lambs to pasture. The whole point is that You, Jesus, know we don’t have Your kind of love naturally in us, it only comes from You. But the first step is to obey You with the little, imperfect love that we have. You were asking Peter to surrender what love he did possess, no matter how imperfect, to Him, and You would do the rest. And that’s the same thing You ask of me. “Surrender Your little love, and I will make much love of it.”
I don’t have what it takes to love like You, until You give it to me. But before I can have that, I must surrender my love, imperfect as it is to You and Your will. Your plan was to prepare me for salvation. You have the power to save me and change me. And then Your power continues as Your salvation completes me in You through my sanctification.
You see, our salvation is totally dependent on Your will, Lord, and not on my will. I can’t do it. I can’t do it for me or anyone else. Only You can. “It is not of him that wills nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy;” (Romans 9:16) Paul both willed and he ran, yet Your mercy alone saved Him and drew Him to You permanently. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16) Peter left You, left Your team; yet You still chose Him when He gave up on You. “And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (Ephesians 2:1) This is by Your own will, and not man’s. Peter didn’t quicken himself; You alone did. If You hadn’t come to Peter, he would have been lost forever. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will”. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
Yes, this is Your will for me! This is the Good News. You are the Good News. You in me is the Good News. Your love placed supernaturally in me is the Good News. The Good News living and at work in me by the power of the Holy Spirit. What I could never do on my own, You always willed to do in me! You have done it and You are continually doing it! You are being God in me and through me. This is Your will. This is how You are glorified.
So, what will my response be? Will you have to knock me to my feet against my will? Will I still refuse to surrender to Your power, to Your love. Will I grasp my own power and authority so tightly that I refuse to accept Yours? Will I leave You when the going gets tough, when You don’t respond the way I thought You would? But when You come to me, will I listen? Will I surrender? Will I give You the imperfect love I have? Will I give You all of me and just obey? Will I let You be everything I rely on? Will I see You for who You really are and realize how desperate I am for You? Will I let go of my power and surrender to real power? Will I let You transform my life and have Your way in me? Will I lead Your sheep to pasture or away? What will my response be?