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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Giving up Control

Giving up control is not something I do very well.  I like to control my environment, my life, my diet, and a host of other things.
So I was reading Matthew 26 a day or two ago, and it occurred to me how completely Jesus gave up control of His own life at His arrest.
Most every Christian knows the story: Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and after His prayer, Judas arrives, leading a group of people who are going to arrest Jesus, and if possible, His disciples.
Jesus just stands there, and lets them arrest Him.  Now if you are not a Christian, that makes sense. What could he do? There are so many, and He is one man.  However, if you are a Christian, you know that Jesus has options. He doesn't have to tolerate being arrested.  He can simply say, NO! and the world changes immediately, His arrest doesn't take place, and lots of other things happen.  We see a tiny foreshadowing of this in John's Gospel, with the same scene--the troops have arrived to arrest Him.  Everyone is standing there, tense and ready to attack, run or defend.
Here's what happens (John 18:1-9, NASB):
2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples.
3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, *came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and *said to them, "Whom do you seek?"
5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He *said to them, "I am He." And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.
6 So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Therefore He again asked them, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus the Nazarene."
8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,"
9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one."
When He says, "I am He," the entire group goes backwards, and falls to the ground.  So He asks a second time, and they answer, with their faces in the dirt, "Jesus..." So much for the arresting officers. Then He gives a command: "Let these [disciples] go their way..."
Now they all get up, dust themselves off, and in the ensuing confusion, Judas points Jesus out with a kiss, Peter cuts of Malchus' ear, and the disciples run for their lives.
The point is, Jesus relinquished control. It was never taken from Him.  He decided to go through with His own arrest and murder.
This is very clear in the Gospels.
In Matthew, He makes clear that both He and His Father are fully in control, and things are occurring this way in order to fulfill the Scriptures.
In John, His response, "I am He," petrifies them, and they fall down before Him. In Luke, He heals Malchus' ruined ear.
In every Gospel, the writers assume that Jesus is actually in control, up to the point of His arrest. Then He lets go. Events take Him.  Although everything that occurs is in some way or another a fulfillment of Scripture, He is no longer in control. He tells us so, when He says, "This is your [the Jewish leaders'] hour, and the power of darkness."
When He reviews all this, after His resurrection, He says (Luke 24:15-16, NASB),
25 And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 
26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
In other words, even though Jesus gave up control, God's plan prevailed, and God took over. What's more, God's plan was superior to Jesus taking control and ending His own arrest--look at what happened.  The resurrection.  The Ascension into heaven.  Satan conquered at Jesus' death.  A way into heaven opened for us.  The church. The gifts and ministry of the Spirit. Eternal life. A new home in heaven, with God. And much more.
All of these were dependent on Jesus allowing His life to be bounded by the Scriptures, giving up control, and following the Plan that His Father and He had made in the ages past.
This is true of you and me.  At times when it seems we are not in control of our own lives, nothing is going right, we are sick, in pain, troubled, hurting, broke, stuck in situations we hate, depressed, broken in spirit, all seems wrong, and all seems lost, it's well to remember the words of David
(Ps 139:14-16, NASB):
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
God does have a plan for you, and for me.  Sometimes in the midst of difficulty, it seems as if He does not--but just as Jesus gave up control and followed the direction God led Him, so we should also, allowing Him to set our days and nights in order, and letting Him fill our lives with His presence and power.
I am not advocating for a decisionless life.  That's impossible.  God meant for us to decide if He gives us no clear direction, but there are things that mold our lives and make them what they are, and the results of allowing Him to take control in those things are always good. Remember, too, that the final words have not been scripted in your life, even when the life you have on this earth is over.  If you are a Christian, your life is only beginning when you pass from this earth. All of life is directed at the future when you believe in Christ, and you have no real home here.  We are like the Old Testament Saints, who "died in faith, not having received the promises, but believed in them," and who "seek a heavenly country;" God has prepared a place for them, and for us, who are "strangers and pilgrims on this earth." Your life is never over if you are a Christian.  God has planned a future for you, and it lasts forever.

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