IN THE MASTER’S SERVICE
The words that proceeded from the mouth of our Lord when He was hanging on the cross are words of life and comfort. One of His seven utterances was addressed to His mother and His beloved disciple John (Jn.19:26-27). Many grief-stricken women were also present at the site watching the agonising death of the Saviour. These women ministered to Jesus during His public ministry (Mk.15:40,41).
The first three ‘words’ of the Lord showed His love and concern for humanity: 1) forgiveness for His persecutors and killers, 2) paradise for the dying, repentant thief, and 3) a caring family for His mother. Just a few moments after the Lord entrusted His mother to the care of John, darkness covered the earth.
The darkness that engulfed the earth after His third utterance symbolises the awfulness of our sins that were being laid on Him. That was the hour Jesus felt God deserting Him, and He cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God…” He uttered His remaining four ‘words’ in the darkest hour of His agony and they concerned Himself and His work of salvation that He was about to finish.
Jesus chose 12 ordinary people prayerfully and then trained them for three and a half years to be ‘fishers of men’. Although many more joined Him later (when they saw the mighty miracles), they did not stick with Him (Jn.6:66-68). When He was dying on the cross, He gave His beloved disciple John a special responsibility of looking after His mother till he and the other disciples were equipped to be His witnesses (Acts.1:8).
Today, the resurrected and glorified Master is looking for disciples (not merely followers) to be His witnesses. He is looking for those who are willing to pay the cost of being His disciples (not all are called for martyrdom). He wants men and women who are willing to continue His ministry of loving and caring for the weak, the sick and the lonely – captives of Satan and the wayward sinners.
When Jesus said to Mary, “Dear woman, behold your son” and to John, “Behold your mother,” they knew what He meant. Mary did not suggest that she had other grown-up sons who could look after her. John did not give an excuse that he had his own mother and family to care for. They submitted to their Master’s wish.
How many who profess faith in Christ have the time and the willingness to listen to Him when He speaks to them from His throne? Are Christ’s words falling largely on deaf ears, with just a handful of people responding (Isa.6:8)? Most Christians expect God to bless them and their families; they want the comforts of this life, a spacious and convenient place to worship, the best education, the best jobs – except the Christ and His cross! They conveniently avoid the message of the cross (Lk.14:25-27), but say ‘hallelujah, amen’ to the promises of blessings!
When our priority is ‘God’s kingdom and His righteousness,’ we are bound to be in conflict with the idolatrous and materialistic lifestyle of this world. We will be ridiculed and resisted if we are honest and truthful, especially during difficult situations. The message of the cross for this pleasure-seeking world is foolishness, because it does not offer them the comforts and luxuries they desire and acquire by any means.
A Scottish missionary, having served in India for many years, went back to Scotland to raise money and obtain more missionaries for India. He stood before the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and made his appeal. But the response was so poor that it broke his heart. He fainted there on the stage. When he regained consciousness, he pleaded with the doctor to help him up so he could finish his appeal. Then, with tears streaming down his face, he again begged for missionaries and money for India. He said, “Queen Victoria called for young men and women for India and large numbers responded. But when King Jesus calls for young men for India, so few, if any, respond!”
If the President or the Prime Minister of India chooses you as his special emissary and offers you a handsome remuneration package, won’t you grab that opportunity?
The calling that we have received from God is primarily an invitation to ‘participate in the divine nature’ so that we become effective and productive in ‘soul winning’ (Eph.4:1-2;2Pet.1:3-10). The N.T., especially the Book of Acts, records the perils the apostles and disciples faced while sharing the Gospel with the unbelievers and caring for the poor, the sick and the dying. Praise God for all those who obeyed the high calling of God from the first to the 21st century, enduring the hardships and afflictions that accompanied the proclamation of the Gospel! They truly loved their Master!
Are we available for the Master? Or are we too busy acquiring material wealth? Some Christians justify their pre-occupation with materialistic pursuits saying that they work hard to earn money so that they can give one tenth of their income to God’s work. Is God interested in our money? No. He is interested in us. He wants us so that He can bless us and make us a blessing to others.
Mary was available to God when He chose her womb for the Saviour’s birth; she was willing to take the risk of being ridiculed and even stoned to death by the fanatic Jews of her day. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants…”
Why were Mary’s other sons, born after Jesus, not entrusted with the responsibility of looking after their mother? Because they were neither available, nor did they believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They were not even present at the Calvary’s hill where their elder Brother was dying.
Are we like Mary’s sons who didn’t believe and couldn’t care less? Are we like the ten disciples who deserted their Master after His arrest? If we are truly His disciples, then we will gladly accept the responsibility He gives us – the responsibility of loving and caring for those who belong to Jesus as well as those who do not.
In the three epistles John wrote, his emphasis is God’s love for us and our love for God demonstrated in human relationships. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands” (1Jn.5:1-2).
When He was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment; and the second is like it: love your neighbour as yourself.”
Jesus loved John and John loved Jesus. John obeyed his Master and never looked back.
After His resurrection, Jesus met His eleven disciples on the shores of Galilee. What was the topic of their conversation after they finished their breakfast? Loving, caring and serving. “… ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’…” (Jn.21:15-17).
Today, the Master is looking for disciples who, having tasted His love and salvation, truly love Him in return and are available for His service.
Are you available for the Master’s service?