October 2013

AN UNPROFITABLE SERVANT

Suresh Manoharan

The one Jesus loves is the one who enjoys His closeness.

It’s quiz time, folks. Not a tough question (for regular Bible readers). Name the disciple whom Jesus loved. If your answer is John, son of Zebedee, brother of James, pat yourself on the back. Light- hearted introduction apart, if we look at the implications of John’s unique ID, the disciple Jesus loved, there are some serious lessons to be gleaned. Of course, Jesus loved the other disciples too, but if the Scripture says that the Sovereign Lord loved John more, it is in perfect consonance with the teaching in other parts of the Scripture such as Exodus 33:19 and Romans 9:15.

Hey, some weighty privileges are bound to come visiting if you are loved by Jesus; John’s life and ministry are a classic case in point.

Reformation
Mind you, originally John and James (both brothers) were named by Jesus Himself, considering their hot temper, as sons of thunder. One needn’t go beyond their fiery reaction to the Samaritans’ inhospitality (Lk.9:51-54) to substantiate the truth about their short fuse. While James was martyred early in his ministry, John actually outlived other apostles mellowing all along with age. The Master Sculptor (2Cor.3:18) had fashioned John into a masterpiece—fleshing out Jesus’ love—by the time his earthly sojourn ended.

There is a church tradition which says that when John was an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, “Little children, love one another!” After a time, the disciples, wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, “Master, why do you always say this?” “It is the Lord’s command,” was his reply (Jn.13:34-35). “And if this alone be done, it is enough!” Difficult to believe, isn’t it, that this once easily excitable son of thunder— all fire and brimstone in his younger years—could now be so warm-hearted, personifying the Lord’s command? It was the effect of love (another name for Jesus - 1Jn.4:8) that John was eating, drinking, and breathing that became the topic not only in his preaching but also in his writing. His three epistles, written presumably in his old age, exude love. How true, we love because Jesus first loved us (1Jn.4:19). His love in our hearts (Rom.5:5) translates into reverence for God and compassion for fellow beings.

Have you trusted Jesus to reform you? All of us by birth are sinners, selfish to the core. All of us need a ‘born-again experience’ which only faith in Jesus can bring about (Jn.1:12; Gal.3:26) liberating us from our selfishness. It is not your fault that you are born a sinner, but it would be your fault if you died as one, without ‘allowing’ Jesus to bring about a reformation in your life by His mighty power.

Responsibility
What is the proof that you have reciprocated to the person who has loved you with agape love? Answer: you are bound to remain with him in his moment of crisis. Is it any wonder then, John alone of all the disciples was beside Jesus at the cross, when the Saviour was spending His last hours in excruciating agony? To whom should Jesus, the eldest Son of Mary, entrust the responsibility of taking care of His mother’s welfare other than to the disciple whom He loved (Jn.19:26-27). Is Jesus entrusting you with more responsibilities in your ministry for His glory? Rejoice, for it is a vindication of His love (basis for trust) for you. Didn’t somebody say love and trust are bedfellows!

Redemption
As John alone of all the disciples was beside the Redeemer in His last hours, he alone had the privilege of seeing the divine redemption work completed (Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for sinful mankind). Is it not only in John’s gospel that we see triumphant cry of Jesus on the cross (the sixth utterance) recorded, “It is finished”?

In essence, the difference between saving Christian faith and others is this: While others call for several good works to obtain salvation, Christianity calls simply for acceptance in faith of the work already finished (Rom.10:9-10).

Resurrection
Lo and behold, after being the first-hand witness of the completion of the redemption work, who other than John should have the privilege of being the first witness among the disciples to the resurrection of his beloved Master?

“So Peter and the other disciple (John) started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” (Jn.20:3-8).

Oh, how it is to be loved by the Lord! Privileges chase and overtake you.

Recognition
It is a misty morning, so misty that one can barely see his fellow passenger in the boat. Jesus’ disciples aboard their fishing vessel have toiled in vain in the Sea of Galilee all through the night trying to catch at least one fish. Enter the Saviour with the words, “Children, have you caught any fish?” (Jn.21:5). In the ensuing dialogue between their Problem Solver and themselves, who of all the disciples should recognise their Master by voice alone that misty morning? No prizes for guessing the answer (Jn.21:7)! The lesson here is as simple as it is profound. If Jesus loves you, your heart is bound to respond to that divine love and it follows that you would always quickly recognise the guiding, still small voice of His indwelling Spirit, whenever you confront crossroads of your life.

Revelation
In all of human history, the knowledge of future events has been treated as a ‘rare treasure’. Researcher Bernard Gittelson has calculated that the circulation of newspapers and magazines carrying astrological columns (about future) in the U.S.A., Europe, Japan and South America is over 700 million. While stating clearly that knowing of future from any other source other than the Almighty or His approved prophets is sin, let us pose this question. To whom did Jesus entrust the ‘veritable treasure’ of knowing all about events of human history and beyond encapsulated in the last book of the Bible, Revelation? John, of course (Rev.1:19). Why? As He loved him, He trusted him with this treasure too.

Take my word, fellow sojourners in this earthly journey, if you are loved by the Master, He would reveal precious treasures to you in His word hitherto unseen or unknown.

“God-friendship is for God- worshippers; they are the ones He confides in” (Psa.25:14 The Message).

Praying for an ID like the one John had, and affirming His love for you and your love for Him, what better time than now to join me in the prayer of the Psalmist?

“Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (NKJV).

Editorial: DEPENDENCE ON GOD - Jacob Ninan

A SERVANT IN HIERARCHY - Kuruvilla Chandy

AN UNPROFITABLE SERVANT - Suresh Manoharan

ORGANISATION CULTURE FOR CHRISTIAN ORGANISATIONS - J. N. Manokaran

CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NO EASY ROAD - P. Samuel Manoharam

REMEDY FOR BACKSLIDING BELIEVERS - J. Fredric Dawson

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