“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
–Jesus (John 14:30-31)
When Jesus said these words, Satan had entered Judas and he was on his way to betray Jesus. The way Jesus puts it, “the ruler of this world is coming,” because the world has been given to Satan by God, temporarily. Then Jesus states that Satan has no claim on him.
It’s good to remember that, because you belong to Jesus. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” So he has no claim on you either. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Jesus goes on to say that he does as the Father has commanded him to do, so that the world may know that Jesus loves the Father. So once again we see this idea that obeying God’s commandments is attached to loving Him. We discussed how Jesus emphasized this truth in a previous post, “If you love me . . .”. In that post we saw that four times inside of nine verses Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He said it four different ways. And now, just a few minutes later, he’s saying it yet again by citing himself as an example.
Every great leader I’ve ever been exposed to has this trait: they never ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. They’re consistent. They lead by example. And here we see Jesus leading by example. He says to you and he says to me, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then he reminds us that he himself follows God’s commandments, and that’s how the world knows that Jesus loves our Father.
For me, I see practical application from this passage. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I should go into a dark place, a situation where sin abounds, and try to influence people for Christ. I think Jesus’ example is instructive for me. If I prayerfully ask three questions of myself, I can gain insight as to whether or not I should go in to a dark place and try to communicate Jesus’ love to the people there.
1. In what direction will the influence flow?
Jesus came to a place where sin abounds when he entered into this world. And there were attempts to influence him. We see in three of the gospels that while Jesus wandered the desert during his 40 day fast, Satan attempted to influence him. But Jesus used God’s words to resist him and Jesus prevailed. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to share Jesus with someone, but it was someone whose influence would have flowed over to me, rather than Jesus’ influence flowing from me to that person. And I’ve observed it in others. I’ve seen people I love and care about try this. A married man tries to communicate the love of Jesus to a female coworker, and he falls into temptation. A woman tries to communicate the love of Jesus to people in a bar, but she struggles with alcoholism, and she falls into temptation. A man tries to communicate the love of Jesus to people in a casino, but he struggles with gambling addiction, and he falls into temptation. (Luke 4:1-14, Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:11-13)
If at anytime I suspect the influence of the person I want to share with is flowing in the wrong direction, it’s time to remove myself from that person and from that situation.
But if I’m sure Jesus’ influence will flow from me to the people in the dark situation, I can enter into the presence of that person or that group and share Jesus’ love with them. (See previous post: Love Like Jesus–Love the Unlovable)
Which brings us to question number two.
2. Is my heart filled with the love of Christ?
In our text Jesus says he does what he does so the world may know he loves our Father. When Jesus came to our dark world he was (and is) filled with God’s love. There are times when I’m tempted to share Jesus with people (or some other bit of truth) but I’m not filled with the love of Christ. Maybe I’m more interested in winning the debate than I am in loving the person. Or maybe I just had a frustrating day at work. Or maybe I’m feeling tired and depleted. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jesus always shared truth in the context of unmistakable love. Whenever I try to share any truth with someone and my love is less than unmistakable to that person, I’m creating a barrier for the Holy Spirit to do His work. But when I’m filled with the love of Jesus for someone, I give the Holy Spirit the best possible chance of reaching that person for Christ.
If I’m tempted to share truth with someone, but I’m not filled with the love of Jesus at the time, I’m better off walking away.
3. Is this what God wants?
In our passage Jesus said he follows God’s commandments, and that brings us to the third question: Is this what God wants? Sometimes I find myself wanting to share with the “cool kids at school.” But when I pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading, and when I examine my own heart, I usually find that God wants me to go to people who I don’t find to be particularly cool. I think there’s a reason for this. I’m not particularly cool myself, so the cool kids are unlikely to be influenced by me anyway. But there are people out there whose day will be made just by my saying hello. Some are kids, some might have special needs, some might just be socially awkward. But it seems that those are the people God usually wants me to go to. Those are the people with the fertile soil. Those are the people with who God can use me to plant His seeds in a way that results in roots running deep.
I don’t always ask myself these three questions before acting on a desire to share Jesus, but when I do, I find them helpful.
The last words Jesus shared from our passage are “Rise, let us go from here.” So let’s do that. Let’s rise and go from where we are right now, and pray we might be allowed to share the love of Jesus with someone today, and talk to someone about Jesus today.
“Father, I pray You will use the person reading this right now to plant Your seeds into the souls of the people You have in Your mind for them. Have Your hand on their life. Use them for Your glory and to communicate the love of Jesus to the people you connect them with.
“In Jesus name,