And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day Luke 4:16 CEV
We have been seeing recently in news broadcast the power of the campus movement in the USA where there have been mass walk-outs in support of the recent shooting in Florida. As I watched from afar I get a sense of the power a group of young people can exert locally, nationally and globally. A school in my own country staged a walk out in support of the students in the USA.
As I walked into church this week, I watched the people milling around between services and then combining in worship. There was such power as God’s presence so graciously inhabited the praise of His worshippers. It flooded the campus like a waterfall.
In that moment I was challenged that while we need each other in fellowship we also need relationships to walk with us through the other 6 days of the week.
Again, it is Jesus who gives us the model of relationship with his twelve disciples. Jesus had chosen twelve very different Israelites to be His disciples and to invest in their lives in His three years on earth. Really this group should never have been together such were their personalities, political affiliations and natures. Yet Jesus nurtured and travelled with them teaching them the kingdom of God had come. But each had a different relationship with Jesus. This so graphically depicted when we see Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There were the eleven (remember Judas Iscariot had already departed since the last supper) and Jesus told them to ‘sit here while I go over there and pray’ (Matthew 26:36). Then he took His inner group of three, Peter James and John and said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ (Matthew 26:38). Then He went further to meet with His Father.
What this picture shows me is that he relationship that Christians have with Jesus can vary greatly from person to person. Just because we have been converted, i.e. become a Christian, doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.
As I think about those first eight who were told to “sit here” while Jesus went and prayed. What was going through their mind. Probably not much different than many other times when Jesus went to a quiet place to pray. Was this any different? For them, probably not. For many Christian’s it is Jesus from afar during the week. They belong spiritually yet sit while others minister and pray. Their relationship with Jesus consists of praying to Him and going to church on Sunday. They allow Jesus to be a sacrifice for their sins, but the relationship with Him stops there. Such relationships with Jesus can, at best, be described as “distant.” In spite of this they were still part of Jesus’ team. We all have sit here friends.
Now Jesus, Peter, James and John have a different relationship. Jesus shares His soul of sorrow, even to death and He calls the to “keep watch.” We all need friends who will keep watch – our backs, our speech, our desires, our attitude. And these disciples must have thought they were up to the task … well they were until they fell asleep. But Jesus needed them, so he could share His deepest thoughts and grief. Isn’t it good that we too have friends who we can share at a deep level knowing that they too will pray and uphold us. We all need them.
Meet the Father
Then Jesus leaves them to keep watch as He goes further and meets with His Father. At that moment when Jesus prayed in the Garden He prayed out of his deep connection of love and fellowship with his Father. Jesus often called God “Father” in the Gospels. His relationship with God was on the basis of love, obedience, and an eternal relationship.
Relationships with people are dynamic, in that they often change with time and can grow deeper. It is also similar with our relationship with Jesus. Our relationship becomes deeper as our love for Him increases, and as our love for our own life decreases.
The fact is that we decide what relationship we want to have with Jesus and each other. I have sit here friend, keep watch friends and they all contribute to my life. But I have chosen first to have an intimate relationship with Jesus, before I enter any other relationship. ‘To become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.’ (Philippians 3:10 AMPC) – this is my daily prayer.