“I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. He that sent me is with me. The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” – Jn. 8:26-29
As I write these words, again trying to put them to memory, the thought of the past week haunts me -sickness. Lying upon one’s bed for agonizing hours gives one too much time for reflection and agitation of not being capable of doing what is needed. Yet, it is in these suffering minutes of eternity that life’s focus once again becomes clearer.
What we do in this life, how we stand before those doing the same thing, making it through each day the best they can, makes all the difference. We can go about moaning and complaining, or we can go about letting the radiance of what gives us hope to shine through our aged, withered skin. Though our façade may be falling away, that twinkle in the eye, that gleam of spirit within, can give someone else a shimmer of hope in a world that might otherwise seem lost. But alone, we cannot make that happen. It is because, as Jesus said, “I do nothing of myself.”
How much more we all could take away from those few letters that formed his response? “I,” the Christ saying of himself, “do nothing of myself.” To hear the Son of God expel this sort of mindset, to hear he, who is God in the flesh, admit that alone, he is nothing, should give us all a shaking to our very marrow. The humility, to put one below his station, and to praise his heavenly Father in such a manner is to admittedly pronounce an even greater appreciation for who Jesus was and for his ministry here on earth.
To know that in his short three years of evangelism, those twelve men to whom most of his focus was upon left an indelible mark upon humanity. The story of Jesus alone was of an earth-shattering revelation, but alone, had the enemy had their way, it would have slowly died off like those Apostles. But because of their steadfast faith and with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to achieve far beyond what was humanly possible. This alone, to understand the early church’s fragility and the great danger it faced, is to understand the miraculous growth and creation of the faith we call today Christianity.
In today’s world, the thoughts of last week seem ages ago. Take into consideration what you were doing at this time three years ago if you can. Then, as you stretch your mind to recover those frames of time, imagine what it might have been like to have been walking along with Christ, to have seen all that would have transpired during his earthly ministry, and see if you could begin to recall each day, let alone just a week living in that moment. It must have been nearly mind-altering for those disciples to keep up, let alone retain just portions of what Jesus was trying to tell them. We see in scripture, again and again, as if Christ is repeating himself but using different metaphors or parables to enlighten them as to what is coming. Yet, although it’s easy for us to see, they never seem to grasp what Jesus is trying to convey to them. It isn’t until the cold, steel door of death slams shut do they finally realize the grim mortality of what it was Christ tried to say. It was in the silence of those three long days that their minds must have retraced every step of every dusty road they had traveled, trying to understand what had happened and if it was all for naught? How so like those three days are those when we are forced by illness or injury to lie in repose, held captive by our recovery as our mind is free to roam.
Do we ever consider what our past lives have been for and if we too had lived all for naught, but in a very different manner than those early disciples? Or maybe, you’re one of the few that have lived your life already living for God. What would you give to relive an hour in your memory’s history, to be with that dearest grandparent one more time, to hold that child that left this world too soon, or perhaps to hold the hand of that loved one that slipped away in a tragic accident? These are all the things we can understand, but to know what it was to walk with God, there were only twelve that knew that feeling. Imagine what they would have given to go back one more time? What would you give to spend a minute in the presence of Christ himself while he was fully human and fully God?
But they were blessed to have a second chance.
The grave could not hold the Son of God, and from the day of his resurrection to the day of his ascension, you can bet there wasn’t a moment with him that wasn’t cherished beyond measure by each of the surviving disciples. Yet, it couldn’t last forever.
There in that upper room, when the last of the forty days of His resurrection had come to an end, when they all waited for something Jesus had said would come, but again, they could not understand still. It was when the day of Pentecost came, and the tongues of fire came down from Heaven, landing upon each of them, empowering them beyond what was mortally possible. They left that chamber changed men, never to fear the world around them again. It was from this revelation that understanding that they could never go back, nor should they, for their future was preaching the story of Jesus Christ. It was from that blast of the Holy Spirit, a whirlwind of a revival, that the news, story, and faith of Christianity burst forth, spreading across continents, to finally circle the globe.
As we face a world that seems to spin a little more out of control every day, know that we needn’t look back for comfort anymore. We have also, like those Apostles, been given a second chance. Our hope is in the future. So, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, find someone that does and ask them to show you the way, the truth, and the light, and watch what happens to your world.
If nothing else, open the Bible to the book of Romans and read chapter 10, preferably starting at verse nine. Maybe then, you will finally read why Christ died for us, and perhaps then you will see why true believers do nothing of themselves.
Thanks be to God.