For Those Who Need to Be in Control

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November 27, 2020

John 21:12-17 (NIV)

18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

CONSIDER THIS

A reader and dear friend, Brother Bill, texted me today with a question about yesterday’s Daily Text entry.

I have wondered if the love of Jesus was available to Judas as it was to Peter.  If so, what of Jesus did Judas miss that Peter survived long enough to appropriate?

It generated a bevy of text responses as follows:

I think in the end Judas was a Zealot. Peter was only zealous. Judas was fanatically committed to the mission. Peter was in love with Jesus. 

I believe Judas did what he did not in order to betray Jesus but to take control of the situation in order to incite a revolution. He took matters into his own hands— as control bound people are bound to do. Judas needed to be in control. 

Judas did not want the love of Jesus. Like so many others— he wanted the power. 

The bigger question is why Judas was that way? What was underneath his need to be in control? 

This, I believe, is the quandary of so many of us. 

I think if Judas hadn’t killed himself he would have been sitting around that charcoal fire with Jesus too. 

With the deep deep love of Jesus comes the loss of control. That’s where the text goes, right? Jesus tells Peter about his future. 

I think you have just helped me write tomorrow’s daily text— which I must do now

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

Jesus let Peter know that henceforth he would not be in control of his life or his death. It’s interesting how Peter wants to get into the other disciple’s business—making the classic triangulating move of a controller.

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Look at Jesus’ “mind your own business” response:

“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 

I suspect the conversation would have gone similarly with Judas—rigorously restorative—had he not been the controller even of his own death.  

Lordship means control. It means an undivided heart, unflappable trust, and uncompromising obedience. It means me being out of control. Those of us who struggle with a controlling nature tend to be the first to excuse ourselves. We make wry references to our ethic of “trust but verify,” while pointing to our apparently successful track record of wins and achievements in Jesus’ name. When will we finally have the courage to name it? From the Garden of Eden to the present day, control is the original sin. Control crucified Jesus. It makes his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane all the more stunning, as he takes himself out of control. 

“Abba,[f] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

Controllers may win a thousand battles, but they always lose the war. The opposite is also true. Those who give up control may lose a thousand battles, but they always win the war. 

You must follow me.

Feed my sheep.”

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is Lord precisely because he surrendered his Lordship, taking on the nature of a slave, humbling himself, making himself nothing, becoming obedient to death; even death on a cross. Therefore, you highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Come Holy Spirit, forge and form this same mind of Christ in us. We confess our need to control as sin and surrender all control to Jesus as we pray in his name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. What do you make of this discussion of Peter and Judas and the matter of control? 

2. Are you or do you tend to be a controlling person? Are you willing to see it as sin? If not, why not? If so, will you reckon with it? 

3. What do you think is underneath that need to be in control of people and situations? What is it about your story that makes it that way? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S. As I am wont to say at the end of a Daily Text series, the Daily Text is free and yet it is quite expensive. This is a wonderful way to support the cause. And please know, I earn no royalties on these books. It all goes back into the mission of sowing for a great awakening! The Daily Text series on the Gospel of John is on PRE-ORDER TODAY. It’ll be regularly priced at $19.95, but for now we are offering a deal as big as the book. Only $9.95 per copy through November 30 (50% off!). At that rate, you can afford to sow them extravagantly. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I believe that like all of us, Peter and Judas both felt the need to be in control of their own lives because we all place too much confidence in the flesh. The difference between those two was Judas did what he did so that Scripture could be fulfilled, the same reason Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed. I personally try to use my abilities to produce desired outcomes on creating or fixing “things”, not so much with people. I do believe that the attempt to force one’s will on other people is the result of taking on the nature of the serpent in the garden. The complete surrender of one’s own will requires a deep and abiding faith which can only be received as a gift from God.

  2. Captain of Israel’s host, and guide
    Of all who seek the land above;
    Beneath thy shadow we abide,
    The cloud of thy protecting love;
    Our strength, thy grace; our rule, thy word;
    Our end, the glory of the Lord.

    By thine unerring spirit led,
    We shall not in the desert stray;
    We shall not full direction need,
    Nor miss our providential way;
    As far from danger as from fear,
    While love, almighty love, is near.—Charles Wesley; Exodus 13:21; can be sung to “Faith of Our Fathers”

  3. Control leans on its own understanding, it lacks faith in God and seeks to manipulate those around them. It extols itself above the needs of others and grapples with God. Both Peter and Judas’s actions were foretold, however each action proved the power of the flesh. Peter’s flesh was arrogant-ready to dye for. I believe he would have died for Christ. But caught off guard he feared and failed. Judas was consumed, his unmet expectation proved that he never heard the gospel. He did not see Jesus as he is, he saw Jesus through his own expectations. This is the downfall of many Christians; they presume that God would act one way and when he does not they walk away.

    Lord I know your ways are right and pure increase my faith so that I will not sin against you. Speak to my spirit so that I will not fullfil the deeds of my flesh. Open my eyes to see that it is only through surrender that I may experience the fullness of who you are.

  4. Control leans on its own understanding, it lacks faith in God and seeks to manipulate those around them. It extols itself above the needs of others and grapples with God. Both Peter and Judas’s actions were foretold, however each action proved the power of the flesh. Peter’s flesh was arrogant-ready to dye for. I believe he would have died for Christ. But caught off guard he feared and failed. Judas was consumed, his unmet expectation proved that he never heard the gospel. He did not see Jesus as he is, he saw Jesus through his own expectations. This is the downfall of many Christians; they presume that God would act one way and when he does not they walk away.

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