Confidence in Christ
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...”
Charles Dickens began his well-known work, A Tale of Two Cities with this opening line. The opening line presents an age of opposites that took place during the French Revolution. While we are many years separated from the French Revolution, we are now only days away from an event in our own nation in which many people were divided. On Tuesday, November 3 citizens of the United States of America had an opportunity to cast their votes to help decide who would become the next president. As election day approached tensions were high and many households, families, and churches were divided, red and blue.
As I watched the election take place and listened to comments made about what would happen if one candidate emerged victorious over another, I found myself wondering what would make a Christian response to this situation different from a non-Christian response. What would cause one person to respond with confidence while another person responds with doubt and uncertainty?
For the last year, our church has been going through the gospel of John. This Sunday we made our way to chapter 18 where Jesus is being arrested and put on trial. In this portion of the narrative, two different responses are contrasted. One response of confidence and one response of uncertainty. As I read through the text and prepaid my heart for worship, I wondered. What was John trying to teach his readers as he penned this passion play recorded in chapters 18-19? While there may be a few topics in mind, John definitely showcases the Lordship of Christ in this passage. As I came to that realization, I asked myself: How does the Lordship of Christ affect my decisions and how I live my life? How should the fact that Jesus is Lord make the believer's response different from the world's?
When you read John 18, the events of Jesus’ arrest and trial are presented. As the drama unfolds, the responses of two individuals are contrasted, Jesus and Peter. Jesus’ actions portray confidence, while Peter’s illustrate doubt.
As we reflect on the response of Christ we will notice that Jesus’ confidence of Lordship is showcased.
If you remember anything about the events that take place in the Garden of Gethsemane, you will remember that Jesus goes to the garden and as he prays is overcome with agony and sorrow because he knows what is getting ready to happen. The agony he experiences is so intense that Matthew tells us that Jesus’ soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Matthew 26:37-38). Mark tells us that Jesus fell to the ground and repeatedly prayed that if possible, let this hour pass from me (Mark 14:35). The text expresses that Jesus apparently was in such agony that as he was praying he would cast himself to the ground, then stand up, and again fall to the ground. Luke tells us that Jesus’ agony was so great that he actually began to sweat blood (Luke 22:44). Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen and he knew exactly what he would have to go through to pay the penalty for our sins. The realization of this horror crushed him. But what is interesting is that John doesn’t showcase Jesus’ horror of what was to come. Instead in John 18, John showcases the divine resolve of Christ as he prepares to endure the agony which lied ahead. John highlights the resolve of Jesus’ Lordship as Jesus steps forward to endure the agony that he must in order to fulfill God’s plan of Salvation.
As Jesus demonstrates divine resolve, he also illustrates the power, compassion, and restraint of his lordship. As the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, they ask if he is the one they are looking for. Jesus simply answers, “I AM” and the sword-wielding soldiers fall back. By including that small detail, I think that John is presenting the sheer power of Jesus’ Lordship. Jesus answers the mob by using his divine title. Jesus’ answer expresses his divine origin, pointing the reader back to the burning bush where God said, “I am who I am” (Ex. 3:14). Some have suggested that Jesus’ response was an exercise of the same power by which he calmed the seas, stilled the winds, and healed the sick. As Jesus verbalize His holy the mob of men were forced backward.
Once the soldiers stand back up and dust themselves off, Jesus demonstrates the compassion of his lordship by ensuring that none of the disciples are lost. He heals Malchus’ ear, which Peter boldly loped off. He even sovereignly orchestrates one young man’s ability to streak away and evade arrest (Mark 14:51). It is amazing that even in Christ’s final moments, he powerfully, graciously, and mercifully puts the needs of others first. I would encourage you to go back and re-read the drama that unfolds in John 18 and look for those markers of Lordship laced throughout the passage.
As the drama progresses, Jesus is brought before a corrupt court and put on trial. As the courtroom drama proceeds, Jesus is questioned, mocked, and abused. How does he respond? Our Lord responds with patient meekness. Do you know what meekness means? Sometimes we confuse meekness and weakness. That phrase, Jesus lowly meek and mild comes to mind right? Meekness actually means strength under control. At any time Jesus could have stopped the proceedings. At any time, Jesus could have struck them down. At any time, Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to stand witness for His character and glory.
Jesus could have called the same myriad of angels that 33 years ago had heralded his birth to come and stand up for his defense… but, he didn’t. He absorbed the blows of the guards. He took the insults of the false witnesses. He endured the corruption of the courts.... because he had an eternal perspective in view. Jesus took the abuse he was given… even though he could have stopped it, restrained himself so that he could accomplish the will of God.... and become the propitiation for your sin.
As John explains the events which took place on that dark night..... He is helping to show us the reality that Jesus is Lord. Our responsibility is to acknowledge that reality and submit to it. For those who are born again and have truly submitted to the Lordship of Christ, we can have the resolve of knowing that God’s plan is being accomplished… even if it means going to through the pain and the agony of the process. In the depths of the darkest nights… Jesus is Lord!
We are filled with the power of Christ as His Holy Spirit indwells us and enables us to accomplish His will in the world. In times of incredible joy and the deepest of sorrows.... Jesus is Lord! We are empowered with the meekness of Christ… as we exercise restraint in every situation… knowing that God has the power to overcome… and will overcome all things and be victorious in His timing. In the shadow of seemingly overcome-able odds… and the greatest times of indecision... when you absolutely do not understand why things are happening.... Jesus is Lord!
As the drama of Christ’s passion unfolds, John wants everyone to know and embrace the truth that Jesus alone is Lord of all. He is the one to whom we belong… He is the one to whom we bow. There is great joy and certainty in the truth of Jesus’ Lordship.
Why did all this happen? Why did John record this Drama of Jesus’ passion?
One reason could be to highlight that Jesus is Lord of all things. When we truly submit to the Lordship of Christ we gain His eternal perspective, His resolve to see God’s Will done, His power to do God’s Will as the Holy Spirit leads, guides, and grows us. We are comforted by his protection as we serve… being assured that nothing will happen to us that is outside of His control. When Jesus is truly Lord of your life.... Jesus’ compassion and meekness are reflected in you and how you respond to the world around you.
Our confidences in the Lordship of Christ drives our actions and how we live our lives.
Where are you placing your confidence? In what is your confidence placed? Or a better question might be, in whom is your confidence placed?
If your confidence and security are in your president. He will fail you.
If your confidence and security are in your pastor. He will fail you.
If your confidence and security are in your diagnosis. You will be disappointed.
What is our response?
Truly and whole-heartedly submit to Christ as Lord.
Have confidence in His plans for you.
If your confidence and security are in the fact that Jesus is Lord.... then you will never be disappointed but will gain the benefit of His resolve, power, compassion, confidence, protection, and strength.
How is the fact that Jesus is Lord… impacting how you think, talk, act, and live?
Here is a good test of how you view the Lordship of Christ.
Answer this question:
We just had an election. Let’s say that your candidate lost. Will you be able to stand up in respect of the new president when he is inaugurated? Will you be able to speak respectfully of the office, even if you may not agree with the man? Will you be plunged into doubt and uncertainty because of your lack of confidence in the man and his perspective? Will you be able to daily pray for the new president, asking God to help him to be successful in his job?
Christian, I hope that your thoughts, words, actions, and life reflects the truth that no matter who sits in the oval office… Jesus is on the throne!
Our confidence must be in Jesus as Lord. Nothing is outside of His sovereign control. As you go through times of life that you might not understand, remember:
Jesus is Lord! and all these things are happening to fulfill what God has planned.