Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 4/13/03
"Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Lk 15:23-24).
At the end of His ministry, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His eminent departure. He was going home, back to the Father. His words are pregnant with meaning, the depth of which I'm sure these men did not understand until the Holy Spirit came upon them to lead them into all truth. He had lived with them, protected them, taught them, shared with them, and now, He was about to leave them. I can only imagine the angst which filled their hearts as they listened to His prayer to His Father, to their Father in heaven: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:1-3, NIV). In few words, Jesus acknowledged that He had authority over all people, that He might give eternal life to all those God had given Him. By the Spirit, I see that God has given all people to Him, because He came to save the lost, that all may have eternal life: "and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2, RSV). Jesus came to reveal the Father, whom He said IS Eternal Life.
The next verse thrills me: "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (Vs. 4). Should there be any doubt at all, Jesus affirmed that He did what He came to do. In terminal agony on the cross, He cried, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Here is another poignant difference between Religion, which ever urges us to do more, and Life in the Spirit, which invites us to enter into His rest and participate in His finished work. Lenny has observed that most Christians are "human doings," rather than human beings. It seems to be built into the "model" to flail around in an attempt to do whatever we think we should do to improve ourselves in our relationship to God and others. The Saints at Medicalodge and other nursing home facilities have reached the end of their earthly usefulness, and now are at rest from the work they pursued during their lives. One woman told me that she used to take care of her whole family, including parents, children and husband. Now, she said with a grin on her face, she can take a nap when she wants to, and other people take care of all her needs for her.
We don't have to die or enter a nursing home to enter into rest. We do that by resting in the total sovereignty of our Father in Heaven, who has every second of our lives in His hands. Knowing that relieves us of worry and anxiety, though sometimes we need to be reminded of it. I had a week like that, about which I'll spare you the details. Only God needs to hear me whine, because only He can do anything about it. For those of you who still want to spare His feelings, I say, "Get a grip. Your mother can't fix it, nor your pastor, priest or rabbi. Only God can give you what you need to survive the life He tailor made for you to behold His glory."
As Jesus was about to endure the cross, He prayed, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (Vs. 4-5). It would be difficult to think of anything farther from glory than a cruel Roman cross, and yet, the Apostle Paul said of it, "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14, RSV). He was NOT speaking here of paintings of Christ on the cross, or of golden crosses worn around our necks, some carried like a good luck charm. These symbols only remind us of what the cross actually means to us, which many have either failed to see, or at least, have failed to appropriate. The glory of the cross is that, by this unlikely means, God has taken us out of the world. He has crucified the world, the flesh and the devil to us and in us. We are free in Him!
About His disciples, Jesus prayed, "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them" (Vs. 6-10). In this moment, Jesus voices the special relationship He had with these men, whom He sees as separate and apart from the world. I personally know Christians who deny themselves the power of God, by saying that this passage proves that Jesus was speaking only of the twelve, concluding that His bounty is not for the rest of us. Such a foolish notion gave rise to the teaching I grew up with that the Holy Spirit, God's power, went back to heaven when the last Apostle died. What a sterile, feeble doctrine that is. It comes from trying to take words spoken from eternity and limiting them by time and flesh.
I enjoyed Witness Lee's study note on Christ's life on earth. He wrote, "He (Christ) was God incarnated in the flesh, and His flesh was a tabernacle in which God could dwell on earth (1:14). His divine element was confined in His humanity, just as God's Shekinah glory had been concealed within that tabernacle....... Now, He was about to pass through death so that the concealing shell of His humanity might be broken and His divine element, His divine life, might be released." End Quote. The divine mystery of the incarnation was that God dwelt in a man, and through the death and resurrection of that man, He now dwells in all men, by the faith OF Christ. It is His faith which sustains us, never ours, which always fails in the fires and trials of life.
Jesus said about these men, who were soon to be scattered like sheep without a shepherd, "And glory has come to me through them." His comment shows that God does not see us the way we see ourselves and each other. Herein lies the rub, the angst, the dilemma for us, and the reason that we MUST depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us. If we judge our lives by what we see, we always end up depressed and defeated. If we ask Him to show us what He sees, then we can begin to appreciate what Christ did for us, does for us, and will do for us, every minute of every day.
He showed me this personally and powerfully this week. I was overwhelmed by circumstances for a few hours, finding it difficult to believe that THIS could be what it means to be seated in heavenly places with Christ.
I have learned not to beat myself up when the storms of life threaten to capsize my little boat. That's the human condition. Jesus was troubled in Spirit, anticipating the ordeal that lay ahead. Paul whined up a storm, recounting the beatings, the stonings, the hunger, the abandonment by men, and all of the ravages of religion he had to endure. I make no apology for calling it like I see it, though there are those who are mighty uncomfortable when I do so, thinking perhaps that there is something spiritual in putting a positive spin on everything that happens to them. That's religion, for sure, and no longer a part of who I am.
The good thing about the valley of the shadow of death, which we must traverse from time to time, is that He holds our hand through it, and awaits us on the other side with a robe, a ring, and a crown.
A dear friend sent us a story written by Michael Foster, entitled, "The Boy Who Forgot Who He was." (Read the entire article at http://www.gospelogic.com/articles.htm). It's a perfect addition to my thoughts today.
"In a small village in a distant land a long time ago, there lived a young boy. He was a fair young man who at the age of 13 was beginning to show signs of manhood. His athletic stature, strong brow and features gave him a noble appearance. Hiking in rugged terrain outside the village, he lost his footing and fell down a steep ravine. Unconscious for hours or what could have been days, he finally revived. Dazed, bruised and sore from the ordeal, he managed to climb back out of the ravine. After wandering across an open field for some time, he became panic stricken when he realized that he not only couldn't remember what had happened or why, he couldn't remember who he was! He tried and tried to remember, but the harder he tried it only made his head throb and hurt more.
"Finally after hours of wandering and as the sun began to set, he spotted what looked like a small village. Noticing some activity by a cottage with some livestock outside, he approached a young girl who was tending the animals and explained his dilemma. She recognized him immediately. Her face beaming she told him who he was and pointed to his home down the path to the other side of the village. She explained that his father was the noble Lord and owner of all the country side, and the wealthiest man in all the land. "We need to get you home, I'm sure he's very concerned about where you are," she exclaimed, "I know he loves you very much."
"When the young man returned home he moved through the elegant setting of his father's estate noticing the exquisite beauty of the house and his fathers belongings; a beauty beyond his imagination. With tears streaming from his eyes he found his father sitting in one of the rooms. His father ran to embrace him. While he held him in his arms, the boy began to sob. "Father, oh father, if you are my father," he said, "something terrible has happened, I don't remember who I am or any of my past." "It's all right Son," his father said, "it's all right; all that matters is that I KNOW WHO you are. You are safe now, and nothing in the past matters except that you are home safe in my arms."
"In the same way, we have all gone astray and forgotten who we are and who our heavenly father is. It was 2000 years ago that God our Father in the person of Jesus Christ reconciled the entire world back to Himself, redeeming and reclaiming the fallen human race as His Sons and Daughters. What was "done" by one man, Adam, was "undone" by one man, the one righteous man Jesus Christ. Through His obedience, and death the full penalty for every sin of the human race was paid (which was death, both physically and spiritually). On the stake at Calvary, He redeemed the entire world, every man, woman and child.
"Everyone in the human race was born dead spiritually and physically because of the one man, Adam. Everyone was made alive (after this physical body sheds itself at our death) in Christ, the "last Adam" (I Cor. 15:20-22; II Cor. 5:18-21). Our knowledge or even our BELIEF in this did not determine if it was going to take place or not! In fact, it happened in spite of and because of our unbelief! This is the Good News! "For when we were yet without strength (ignorant and in our sin), Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6,8). That's us!
"The entire human race was born into spiritual death (since Adam) by simply being born physically into this world. Likewise we ALL had to be "born again" "from above" spiritually, to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom (as Jesus explained to Nicodemus). This occurred when the entire human race was raised in the resurrection body of Jesus Christ! (I Cor. 15:35-50). God had planned from before the beginning of the world a way to save the entire world; that is how much he loves all of his creatures! The redemption and judgment of this world is a finished, completed event. A verdict of not guilty came back for the entire human race. This is the GOOD NEWS: what we could not accomplish on our own merit, the righteousness of one man accomplished, and as a result, eternal life was given to ALL as a free gift (Rom. 5:18, 6:23). This gift was imputed (given) to the entire human race!
"....We can be confident that our heavenly father KNOWS US, and that when He looks on us He sees ONLY the righteousness of Jesus Christ in each and every person born or for that matter every person that ever has been born on earth. He sees us as righteous! This is because "He (Jesus Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). Michael Foster. End Quote.
The Apostle Paul declares that we were chosen in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), but when Christians exhibit performance anxiety, they are not walking in this truth. They are exactly like the man James wrote about "who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like" (James 12:23-24). This is the point of Michael Foster's story about the boy who forgot who he was. Certainly, it describes Adam, who because of sin, fell from grace and forgot the way home. Jesus came into the world to show us the way home, for He IS the WAY Home and He is the Home to which we are going. He said to His Father, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it" (John 17:13-16).
We live in the world, but the world does not live in us. This is not something to fight with and struggle against, because Christ has already won that battle. To me, the world is NOT best represented by dance halls and bars and gaming rooms, but rather by unbelief in God's power to overcome whatever ills beset us. Christians who wring their hands over the state of the world, amaze me. If the world were a good place, Jesus would not have said we are not of it. The world is a bad place, the antithesis of our heavenly home, which, by the way, like God's rest, we do not have to die to acquire. Father, open our eyes to see that we have come home in Christ to be with You, and in doing that, we bring glory to You. We pray that Your glory will shine through us to a dark and dismal world who has lost its way. May Your light, shining through us, illuminate the path for all men and women everywhere, to come home to You. Amen. Jan Antonsson
To be continued.....
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Second Hand Religion, Part I"
"Statement of Faith, Second Hand Religion, II"
"Beyond the Veil, Second Hand Religion, III"
"Risen from the Dead, Second Hand Religion, IV"
"Anointing the Lord, Second Hand Religion, V"
"All things under His Power, Second Hand Religion, VI"
"The Kingdom Option, Second Hand Religion, VII"
"My Father's House, Second Hand Religion, VIII"
"Connected to the Vine, Second Hand Religion, IX"
"Chosen by God," Second Hand Religion, X"
"Labor Pains, Second Hand Religion, XI"
"A New Beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIII"
"Declaring the end from the beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIV"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 4/11/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/22/08.