GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus
Jesus has been teaching about the character of the Kingdom of Heaven and the paths of Disciples – those who have believed in and are now following him. In the context of selecting his disciples, he addresses the final hours of John the Baptist – the last of the OT prophets, one who has devoted to Him with zeal and who now struggles with doubt as his life is turning out differently than he expected. Now, out of the bowels of prison, and with John having only hours to live, he not only praises John for his faithfulness but assures his newly appointed disciples that in the hard road of Christian living there is commendation and comfort.
Wisdom is proved right by her actions. Matthew 11:19. Wisdom is proved right by all her children. Luke 7:35.
1. Instruction about Wisdom – Skillful Living – in the Kingdom. Jesus now is beginning his instruction to his followers on the subject of living with clear expectations and motivations for life. From the backdrop of wisdom instruction and literature in the Old Testament – the writings of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and the Psalms – Jesus now transitions from the life of John the Baptist to the discipleship mantle as it is passed to His followers. To the critics of John and Jesus (Matt 11:18-19), Truth is confirmed by wisdom living. Wisdom is proven by her actions.
2. The Hard Road of Discipleship. To the disciple, there are to be no expectations of an easy life:
- Rejection of Jesus and His miracles leads to Judgment – To him who much is revealed, much is required. Miracles performed in front of the unbelievers who were critics and enemies of Jesus will result in condemnation on the day of Judgment (Matt 11:22,24).
- Kingdom messages received by the children and not the religious elites – Jesus’ prayer to His father affirms that the message of the Kingdom is reserved for the ones receiving the message in childlike faith – not the ‘wise and learned’ who have rejected Jesus and His message.
- Knowing and Seeing God comes through Jesus – Jesus is God incarnate on earth. God is no longer unknown because He is revealed in Jesus. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting everything about God, about eternity and heaven, about living life in a manner that impacts others for eternity. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His Powerful Word. Hebrews 1:3.
3. Consolation and Comfort. No one understood the trials, temptations and challenges of living with wisdom more than Jesus. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin Hebrews 4:15. While without sin, Jesus was tempted in all respects as we are. The siren songs of wealth, human praise, cultivation of the flesh in contradiction to the Spirit – all these things would face the disciples in the years to come, leading ultimately not only to their devotion to the Risen Jesus but their martyrdom and death for the Kingdom message. So, to them, Jesus has an early affirmation of comfort:
- To the weary and burdened – “come to me, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
- To the burdens and reversals that come in life (remember this is all in the context of John the Baptist who was confused and in prison) – ‘’take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29).
- To the question of whether devotion to Jesus is sufficient for life –”‘For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:29b).
What is the message to us when we face unexpected life reversals, when all around us have changed the values and price tags of life, chasing immediate gratification instead of waiting with patience for the coming of the Lord? Come back to Jesus. Draw off of His wisdom and life. The result – not an easy life, not one that is problem free or with an absence of fear and doubt and confusion, but a life with conviction and comfort, knowing that in Him only is Life and Light indeed:
John 1:1-5 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
James 1:2-5 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
You and I will not live the perfect life, free from sin and stumbling (James 3:2). But the promise is that our life will count for eternity, that we one day will see Him face to face, and that, as promsed, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4).
Next week – understanding the enemy and obstacles to faith. Stay well.
— John Moore