Chaos. What images does your mind conjure up when you see this word? Images from your home life? Your job…or multiple jobs? COVID-19? Protests? Political situations? Health problems? A broken relationship? Bills piling up? The ‘poo’plosion your baby did in her diaper just as you were NEEDING to walk out the door for an appointment? Just yesterday, I was thinking about the fact that often, just before I sit down to ‘breathe’ for a few minutes, either I spill something or my toddler spills something…in the moment, it feels like chaos. Ironically, just as I was thinking about the above scenario on my drive to the gym (I had left early so I could squeeze a workout in before my daughter’s doctor appointment.), I shook up my protein shake in it’s container, the lid popped off, and it went all over me and all over the car. I had to turn around, go back home, change, and clean up the car. I was so amused at the irony of the situation, I didn’t even get upset.
Jesus knew the ensuing chaos:
- In John 18, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to catch a few moments of prayer with His Father, when one of His twelve, whom He had spent countless hours discipling, who had seen Jesus work miracles, and heard His teachings, betrayed Him. (John 18:3-5)
- He was arrested. (John 18:12)
- One of His closest disciples, Peter, denied him. (John 18:17-18)
- Jesus was questioned by the high priest (the ultimate religious authority to the Jews) and slapped by an official. (John 18:19-23)
- Peter denied Him twice more. (John 18:25-26)
- Jesus was wrongfully accused of being a criminal by His own people. (John 18:29-30)
- He was mocked, beaten, and a crown of thorns placed on his head. (John 19:1-3)
- The religious authorities and His own people screamed for His crucifixion. (John 19:6-7, 15)
- Jesus was crucified. (John 19:17-18, 28-30)
Despite knowing the chaos that was to come upon Him, Jesus prayed the most confident prayer in John 17. Unlike Jesus, we can’t know ahead of time the ensuing chaos that life in a sin-cursed world will bring upon us; however, by following Christ’s example, we can most certainly share the same confidence. Confidence, when grounded in Christ, surpasses all circumstances we will come across in this life.
“Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you gave him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ’.” (John 17:1-3)
Christ craved His Father’s glory. For what purpose? So all who His Father had entrusted to Him [Christ] would have eternal life. The essence of eternal life is knowing God and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you aspire to be a conduit through which God’s glory flows so that your family, your co-workers, your neighbors, those you come across at the gym, the coffee shop, the hospital, doctor’s office, your children’s sports practice/games…everyone God brings into your path anywhere, anytime…will see Him through you? This ambition transcends any circumstance we find ourselves facing…it gives us purpose in any situation…a reason to carry on despite the looming chaos.
“I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed. I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world…Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, because I have given them the words you gave me. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from you. They have believed that you sent me.” (John 17:4-6a, 7-8)
Have you ever accomplished a task or project for someone whom you consider to be a significant part of your life? How did you feel? Jesus was eager to return to His Father. Afterall, Jesus seems to be exuding confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and a jubilant pride in the fact that He had accomplished all that His Father had delegated Him to achieve:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance…” (Isaiah 61:1-2a).
In Matthew 28:18-19a, Jesus ‘passed His baton’ to His disciples, delegating them to continue His work,
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you…”
Could you confidently claim Jesus’ words as your own in His prayer above?
- “I have revealed Your name to the people You gave me.”
Do those who you ‘do life’ with regularly…those that God has entrusted to you…know you are a Christ-follower? Do you look for ways to drop His name into a conversation? I’m not necessarily talking about going into a whole Gospel dissertation with everyone you cross path’s with, but do you seek to intentionally reveal Him through your words and actions?
- “I have given them the words you gave me.”
Have you? Colossians 4:5-6 and I Peter 3:15-16a spur us to,
“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”
“But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…”
There is a way to speak God’s truth to those in our lives…whether they are Christian or non-Christian…so that they clearly see God’s love and truth radiating through you.
- “[They] have known for certain that I came from You…”
Would those who know you be surprised to find out that you are a Christ-follower? Those who came into contact with Jesus for any amount of time clearly knew who He represented. I love the passage in Exodus 34:29-31,
“As Moses descended from Mount Sinai…he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone! They were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community returned to him and Moses spoke with them.”
Are you bold enough to pray that God would give you a countenance that reflects the fact that you live in God’s presence? Are you willing to make yourself approachable to those whom God has allowed to cross your path so that you can communicate His truth?
Chaos surrounds us. People so desperately need purpose, hope, and confidence. As we study Jesus’ prayer in John 17 in the next few blogs, I pray you will discover…or rediscover…the confidence that Jesus had in fulfilling His Father’s mission, in spite of chaos. Our human tendency in the midst of chaos is to question purpose…our minds wander…insecurity and instability infiltrate our thoughts. Our God-given purpose and mission remains intact through “…affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.” (Romans 8:35). Focus on your mission…reveal His name, speak His truth, and reflect that you live in His presence. In fulfilling His mission for you, you will exude confidence in the middle of the world’s chaos. The author of Hebrews offers us this ‘pep-talk’,
“So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved.” [Hebrews 10:35-39]
Paul reminds us,
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” [2 Corinthians 4:16-18]
And just like Jesus, you will anticipate being standing in the presence of your Father because you,
“…have fought the good fight…have finished the race…have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:7-8]