“My prayer is to be a container that just goes where Jesus is going, says what Jesus is saying, does what Jesus is doing, thinks what Jesus is thinking, touches what Jesus is touching, and does it how he is doing it. Who feels what Jesus is feeling, walks where Jesus is walking, or stays where Jesus is staying (not going, not walking unless he is).” That’s the last paragraph from my prayer diary of 14 Sept 2013. It’s still my prayer.
I learned Matthew 28:19-20 in Sunday School as a child. The teacher used these verses mainly to explain the work of ministers, especially missionaries:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The first disciples took that command seriously. Mark 16:20 records, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
Signs? What signs? Signs that confirmed whatever words of Jesus they had been preaching.
Strange, but I don’t recall ever hearing that taught in Sunday School years ago. We should all be a disciple of Jesus, the teacher would tell us. Do what the Bible says, you know, be a good person, keep the Ten Commandments, that sort of thing. Ask Jesus to be your savior, then he will help you to become a disciple. For many years I put that “ask” thing off, thinking, Christians are boring. Later. I’ll do it later.
But at age 29, I finally did ask Jesus to be my savior. Wow! What a difference he made in my life. Boring it wasn’t, at all. I wondered why I’d put it off so long! (See My Testimony Part I https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/testimony-part-one)
And then one day I wondered, just what exactly did Jesus say about being a disciple? I prayed about that.
“First, look at the ‘everything I have commanded you’ part of that verse in Matthew 28,” the Lord said to me. So I looked, and said to myself, Okay, I see that. But what had Jesus commanded them?
He had told them, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-8)
Jesus had already given them the power to do that, had showed them by example how to do it, and now he was telling them to go do the same things. Later he sent 70 others out with this same assignment; see Luke 10.
Studying the gospels, I realized that Jesus seldom did the same thing, the same way twice. Sometimes he healed with a command, sometimes with a touch, sometimes with a simple statement of fact. Sometimes it was even at a distance. Always it was whatever he heard or saw the Father do, but he himself did it.
One thing I never found. Jesus never prayed and asked God the Father to heal anyone.
Studying the book of Acts, I saw that the disciples followed the pattern of Jesus – they listened to the Holy Spirit and did whatever he said, however, he said. They didn’t pray and ask God or Jesus to heal anyone, they themselves healed the sick with a spoken command, or a touch, or a simple statement of fact.
They prayed about many other things, many other needs, situations, problems. But not this. They did what they were commanded to do.
At Lydda, Peter just made a statement of fact to the paralyzed, bedridden man Aeneas: “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat. Immediately Aeneas got up.” (Acts 9:34)
At Lystra, Paul told the crippled man who had never walked, “Stand up on your feet! At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:10)
Dictionary descriptions of a disciple include a learner; an adherent; a follower; an imitator. Jesus’s descriptions include all of the above, and more. The most important one, however, is to be like the teacher. “It is enough for the disciple that he be like his master,” he said, (Matt. 10:25) and “The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40)
Notice, these are present tense. Not to be like his master WAS, but IS. Right now. This moment. “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (I John 4:17 NIV) We ARE. Not will be some day in heaven, but are now, present tense, here on the earth.
And there is a big problem with that. A human will problem. A fear problem. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of looking foolish.
The bodies of Christians are inhabited by two spirits: (1) our own human spirit that we were born with; and (2) the Holy Spirit, who came to inhabit us when we were born again.
If our own spirit is our master, then we’ll go wherever we want to, do what we want to, when we want to. We’ll do the religious thing, the easy thing, the least risky thing, and think we’ve done our part. We’ll palm off all the responsibility on God. Then if nothing changes, well it must not have been God’s will. Right? Wrong.
If the Holy Spirit is our master, we’ll give him the lead. We’ll go where he wants to, do what he wants to, how and when he wants to. And we’ll begin to see those “greater things.”
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
There are other things Jesus said about being his disciples, of course. Continue in his word. Love one another. Take up your cross and follow him. Did you notice? All of those are also present tense also. We don’t seem to have any qualms about those.
P.S. I like this quote by Randy Clark: “To beg God to heal is to assume you have more mercy than He does.”