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Jesus was very plain spoken. He told His Disciples Who He was. He told them what was going to happen to Him. He assured them they would see Him again.
How could satan possibly deceive them when Jesus had laid it all out for them? In his usual way, satan cast doubt. Remember satan chips away at Who we believe God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit is, who we are, and if that is not enough, he uses lies about who we all are to attempt to destroy our relationship.
Jesus had tried to prepare His Disciples for the time they would not see Him with their physical eyes. He had taught them again and again that He was in The Father, The Father was in Him, and that they would be in Him. He wanted them to start seeing with their spiritual eyes and hearing with their spiritual ears. He wanted them to get used to operating with Him inside of them without their needing the external cues.
While the old expression says, “Seeing is believing,” we do believe some important things without physically seeing them. Have you seen your heart? Do you believe you have one? Do you believe it is working right now?
We may not be able to see The One inside us with our physical eyes, but we can be assured They are there and fully operational at every moment!
Taking Off The Training Wheels
Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He began to back away from always being in front of the disciples. Once, in a storm, He appeared to be fast asleep! At another time, He was not even with them in the boat. He came to them walking on the sea.
And bit by bit, He began to push them to operate in faith to use The Power and Authority He was giving them. He taught them how to drive, so to speak. Then He let them get behind the wheel, while He watched.
There was the time when there was a crowd of hungry people. Jesus’ Disciples went to Him, fully expecting Him to take care of everything, as usual. They were stunned at His Answer. Mark 6:27 records Jesus’ Words to them,
“You feed them!”
And there was another time when a demon possessed boy came. The Disciples tried every trick in the book, but they couldn’t cast out the evil spirit. It was downright embarrassing. As recorded in Luke 9:40, the father of the boy told Jesus,
“I begged your disciples to drive it out,
but they could not.”
Jesus had been irritated with them. Luke 9:41 records, Jesus said,
“You unbelieving and perverse generation!
How long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”
And then He healed the boy.
They had really wondered if they could believe Jesus that day. He had told them they had the power to do these things. They didn’t understand what went wrong.
Luke 9:1 records Jesus’ Words to His Disciples,
When Jesus had called the Twelve together,
He gave them Power and Authority
to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,
and He sent them out to proclaim
The Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
I suspect satan got in the disciples’ faces that day and sowed a bunch of seeds of doubt. I can imagine what he might have said.
“Maybe Jesus doesn’t have the Power and Authority to give you anything. Maybe He does, but maybe He is just toying with you and enjoying seeing you make a fool of yourself. How can you do anything if He doesn’t give you clear instructions. And that calling you out in front of everybody … how awful. And now He’s done with you. You heard Him. He’s tired of you. It’s just a matter of time until He dumps you. Why not dump Him first? You are in the driver’s seat, aren’t you?”
Peter’s Water Walk
Peter knew he was impulsive. So he thought he was learning a better way when he began checking his impulses and questioning things a little more. One day Jesus came to the Disciples, walking on the water, of all things. If Peter had not seen it himself, he might not have believed it.
Peter was not sure at first that it was Jesus. Actually it was pretty freaky. He looked like a ghost. Peter needed a sign. He would later recall what Jesus said about needing a sign. As recorded in John 4:48, Jesus said, (I think, perhaps with a sigh …)
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,
you will never believe.”
As recorded in Matthew 14:27-32, when Jesus came to them on the water, the disciples did give some thought as to whether He was a ghost. They cried out in fear. Jesus said,
It is I!
Don’t be afraid.”
What Jesus wanted was for them to simply believe Him. But they were still wet (literally) behind the ears. Peter spoke for them all when he voiced that he needed more proof that it was really Jesus.
“Lord, if it’s You,
tell me to come to You on the water.”
Note: this is dangerously close to what satan said to Jesus in the desert and what one of the thieves on the cross would say,
“IF You are the Son of God ….” IF is a word used to express doubt!
But Jesus wanted Peter to be sure, so He allowed Him to ask for a sign. Interestingly, Jesus did not say, “Come on into the water.” Jesus said simply,
Peter took that as the sign he was looking for. He began his famous water walk, which went along just fine, as long as he could see Jesus. But when he looked around and saw the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. In that moment, satan had gotten to Peter. Satan likely started a conversation in Peter’s head with “This can’t be happening.”
He then went on to convince Peter that there was something stronger than Jesus. He had convinced him the Wind was too much to deal with. Finally satan planted seeds of doubt of whether Jesus was willing to save him. He reminded Peter that he had asked for a sign. Satan reminded Peter how Jesus felt about asking for a sign.
Satan reminded Peter that he had messed up again and for whatever reason, had messed up publicly. Not only was satan able to poke holes in Peter’s ego, but he was able to convince Peter, that he was an embarrassment to his Teacher. Satan probably ended with a snarky comment of, “Even if He can save you, He probably won’t.”
But Jesus did save Peter. He rescued Him and helped him back into the boat. I like the New Life Translation, which records Jesus’ Words to Peter, as,
“Why did you doubt Me?”
It was personal.
While Jesus wants us to keep our focus on Him, He also wants us to be able to look at the world with our physical eyes and trust Him, Who is inside of us. John 20:29 records Jesus’ Words, when He said,
‘Because you have seen Me,
you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed!”
I Don’t Want You To Be Surprised At What Is About To Happen!
Jesus had assured His Disciples of Who He was.
John 14:9 records Jesus’ Words,
“Anyone who has seen Me
has seen The Father!”
Jesus had assured His Disciples that He would not leave them and that they would see Him. John 14:18-21 records Jesus’ very specific Words to His Disciples:
“I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see Me anymore,
but you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day, you will realize that I AM in My Father,
and you are in Me, and I AM in you.
Whoever has My Commands and keeps them
is the one who loves Me.
The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father,
and I too will love them
and show Myself to them.”
Again, how could satan intervene in such a straight forward message? By putting his time table into it! “Oh yeah, He’s coming back,” satan might say, “but it’s a long time off.”
Or he might remind us that we are of the world now. He might say to us, “He said very plainly the world would not see Him anymore. You gotta wait and hope you see Him one day in the sweet bye and bye. Remember He said ‘on that day’ … well that’s too far away to even think about.”
And finally satan will do what he is known for, make us doubt who we are. He might say, “You don’t keep His Commands. Let me count the ways. So He can’t be talking about you, loser.”
Don’t believe satan! We are Children of God! And we are Jesus’ Friends! As recorded in John 15:15, Jesus told His Disciples,
I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you Friends,
for everything that I learned from My Father,
I have made known to you!”
Jesus wanted His Disciples to recognize their weaknesses. He allowed them to be threshed. He allowed them to be refined. He allowed any doubts to bubble to the surface and be burned away, so that when He gave His imparting statement, as recorded in Matthew 28:20,
“And BE SURE OF THIS — I AM with you always!”
His Followers could be sure!
Don’t You Know Me, Even After I Have Been With You For So Long …
And so we come to one of the greatest tests of faith for His Followers. They had seen Him crucified. He now was gone from their sight. And the events of the past week had been enough for them to doubt everything … themselves, their future … and Him.
The Question hung in midair, as all of them considered it in silence,
“But what about you? Who do you say I AM?”
As they reviewed His many Words to them, they may have missed a very significant revelation. John 15:1 records Jesus’ Words,
“I AM the Vine, and My Father is the Gardener …”
They may have temporarily forgotten,
“If you have seen Me, you have seen The Father.”
And so the reverse would also be true.
“If you have seen The Father, you have seen Me.”
And taken a step further,
“My Father is the Gardener!”
Like a game of Clue, it should have been obvious that day, but it wasn’t. Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. The tomb was empty!
She ran to Peter and John and shared the news. They went back with her and confirmed it. They believed what they saw with their own eyes, but they still were not sure of what was going on. Amazing that these men had been heart to heart with Jesus, and yet, John 20:9 records,
They still did not understand from Scripture
that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
Mary stood outside the tomb crying. She had a brief conversation with two angels who were in the tomb. But then, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there.
Now before, you go high fiving and imagine a reunion scene, get this. She did not realize it was Jesus!
John 20:15 records,
He asked her,
“Woman, why are you crying?
Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking He was the Gardener,
[Hint! Hint! Nudge! Nudge!] she said,
“Sir, if you have carried Him away,
tell me where you have put Him
and I will get Him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
No one says our name like Jesus. When He speaks our Name, it is the caress of The Universe. The One inside of us instantly connects with The One in front of us! The Voice that spoke Mary’s name was indeed The Gardener! Mary was in The Presence of her Creator, the One Who had called her by name, loved her and taught her how to love.
When Mary told the others the news, she said,
“I have seen The Lord!”
That’s A Nice Story, But What Does It Have To Do With Me?
And now, in this time and in this place, The Lord is speaking to you. I believe it is He Who invited you on this journey. He has been with you all along and He has chosen this time to reveal even more of Himself to you.
He looks at you with all the Love only He can give and asks the question,
“But (insert your name) what about you?
Who do you say I AM?”
Points to Ponder
Do you believe The Words of Jesus are for you, as well as those who have gone before you?
Is it possible The One intended His Words to reach you specifically? Is it possible He has indeed been with you all through your life, waiting for you to acknowledge Him? If you agree it’s possible, then say aloud, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Wait for Him to reveal Himself to you in whatever way He chooses.
Is it possible that God is right in front of you, but you have not recognized Him because He has appeared in a way you never expected?
What do you hear The One saying to you right now, as He speaks from the inside of you?