February 10, 2015
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
There is a consistent feature in our daily texts so far on this journey that I have not pointed out yet. We see it again today.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Let’s go back to the day Jesus healed the man “covered in leprosy.” At the end of that passage we read, “
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16.
Still earlier, after Jesus must have healed hundreds of people into the night at the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, we see this:
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. Luke 4:42
For the longest time in my discipleship I looked at texts like these from a very functional and even utilitarian perspective. I reasoned, “If I spend adequate time with God like Jesus did, my life and ministry will be powerful like Jesus’ was.” It turns the “quiet time” into the measure of one’s faith. This makes prayer and solitude a means to an end. I think I considered it something akin to the “secret” to the life of Jesus.
My present understanding: This is pure relationship; the context for the communication of Divine Love. Now it doesn’t look like the “secret” to the life of Jesus but rather the “secret life” of Jesus.
Jesus invites us into this relationship and explicitly articulates what it is all about as recorded in the following text.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15 (selected verses)
Love is the means and love is the end. Let me close today with another text from John– this time from 1 John.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Soninto the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:7-16.
This is not a “secret” technique Jesus is trying to teach us. He is revealing what a “secret life” with an unseen God looks like.
Our discipleship must become far more about the end than about the means. The biblical text makes clear that the end is love. Only when we begin to understand the end to which this all proceeds can we hope to appropriately appropriate the means.
Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.