Archive for November 10th, 2020

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In three short years Jesus gathered, trained and empowered a group of people who would stand the world on its ear and engender a spiritual revolution that would encompass the globe. It was a development program unequaled in history. I would also suggest that it is a program that not only can be repeated but one that we are called to repeat both as leaders seeking to develop those around us and as seekers looking to have the greatest impact for the Kingdom that we can.  Let’s take a look at four points of  Jesus’ development program.

  1. Lead in God’s timing

I think that in modern western society we are much too often guilty of leading in our timing. We think, “I have got this. After all, I have done this before.” The people of Israel certainly thought so as they eyed up the city of Ai (Joshua 7). The classic financial disclaimer comes to mind, “Past performance may not be indicative of future results”. In this particular case it got a bunch of people killed and what should have been an easy success (and was later) became a morale crushing defeat.

Jesus is the eternal son of God. He was the son God throughout his time on earth and continues to be the son of God for eternity. Yet He waited 33 years before he started His earthly ministry and before he started the development process that would forever change the world. He repeatedly deferred to the Father’s timing and in doing so taught His disciples to do the same. This obedience to the Holy Spirit empowered the New Testament church to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6)

2. Lead in lifestyle

The Bible tells us very little about His childhood, but I think we can reasonably look at his lifestyle habits throughout his ministry and extrapolate that they did not arise in a vacuum. I believe that Jesus spent that 33 years carefully establishing an earthly lifestyle that maximized his relationship with the Father and prepared him for the empowering of the Holy Spirit that would be the highlight of his ministry and the sacrifice that would be the fulfillment of His purpose on earth. The blend of Holy Spirit inspired action with times of solitude and prayer are the result of careful personal cultivation. Lifestyle is street level development. This was the purpose of the 33 years. Jesus developed the lifestyle so that he could impart it to his followers. This is an area so severely lacking in today’s leadership.  Lifestyle leadership is rarely discussed and often dismissed. The personal life of our leaders is too often considered irrelevant or simply ignored .  Paul spends considerable time in his letters both to churches and leaders talking about the necessity of lifestyle leadership.

3. Lead in the small things

John tells us the story of Christ’s first miracle. It was not an incredible life changing healing. He did not raise someone from the dead or cast out a demon. Jesus fulfilled a simple (for him) request from his mother. Actually, it wasn’t even really a request. She (as mothers will do) simply pointed out the situation. “They have no wine” (John 2:3) and then set the stage for obedience. This was the first recorded lesson for Jesus’ new followers and here is the kicker, Jesus wasn’t the teacher, Mary was. We too often view development as telling people what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Mary does none of these things. She simply puts truth on the table and then sets up the mode for obedience. “Whatever he says to you, do it.” We too often want to raise the dead and heal the sick when there is a wedding that needs saving. We can put the event even more in perspective when we look at the end of the story. “the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘ Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now'” Jesus did not even get the credit. It is likely that Peter was there for this event. I can only imagine his reaction to this lack of recognition for his rabbi.  I am not sure that this was a lesson learned.  However, it would be repeated.

4.  Lead in the big things

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, the Apostle John tells us the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus took a night of respite after a particularly acrimonious round of dispute with the Temple authorities, retreating to the Mount of Olives for the night.  However in the morning he again appeared in the Temple courts and as usual the people gathered around this man who spoke with such authority.  This morning the Pharisees and teachers in the Temple space laid a trap for him involving a woman they had caught in adultery.  This was a life and death matter under the Law.  This was a big thing. 

They had failed to trap Jesus with a web of little things in their disputes, so they brought out the big gun.  The fact that John notes that it was in fact a trap may well indicate that there was something going on here not readily apparent to you and me.  Jesus’ response also probably has significance beyond what the text states as he quietly drew in the sand.  I have heard many sermons on different theories about what Jesus drew but that is neither here nor there for our discussion. 

When faced with the big trap, Jesus led in a big way.  “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  I imagine she quickly scanned the crowd wondering if any of them had the hubris to heft a stone.  “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”  Jesus had a big answer for the Pharisee’s big trap.  While it saved one woman’s life it taught an even bigger lesson to his followers.  When the law meets grace, grace wins. “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you.” Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John quotes Jesus later in this chapter, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  While Jesus did not need this assurance we have it. Lead in the big things and guess what if you screw up, its ok because when the law meets grace, grace wins.

Timing, lifestyle, small things, big things, when the people of God follow Jesus the world turns upside down and grace wins.

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