Jesus Meets Our Real Needs

While Jesus was alone praying, his disciples gathered around him. Jesus asked who the people said he was. Responding, the disciples said John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the ancient prophets raised again. Then Jesus directed his question to the disciples and asked them, Peter responded that he was the Christ (Messiah) of God, meaning the anointed one of God. Virtually no one outside of the disciples considered Jesus to be the Messiah even though he did greater things than the prophets from the Old Testament. Jesus did not fit their understanding of what the Messiah would do, probably because they believed the Messiah to be someone more like David, a warrior who came to defeat to the national enemies of Israel. Jesus came to give the people what they needed, not what they wanted or expected. The people’s response to Jesus is instructive to us today. Jesus rarely does for us what we expect him to do, because we rarely understand what we truly need. We often get stuck focusing on our immediate physical needs, rather than on those things that will transform us and change our lives forever. We want our finances fixed, our bodies strengthened, our relationships healed. While Jesus often does those things for us, our hearts also need attention, related to developing a thankful, forgiving and generous heart toward others, both friend and foe. Jesus issued to us a new commandment, to love one another as he has loved us. First of all did you notice the standard and how it differs from the Old Testament law? In the Old Testament the command was to love your neighbor as yourself. Our love for ourselves was the standard, which meant anyone could obey this command. However, in his new command Jesus made himself the standard of love. We are to love one another, not as we love ourselves, human love, but as Jesus loves us, divine love! How do we do that? We cannot love in that manner unless we seek help from Jesus, because that type of love is not in us without divine intervention. Second, Jesus referred to his followers loving each other. Even though on an other occasion Jesus had told us to love our enemies, this time he instructed us to love other followers of Jesus. Why did he do that? Perhaps, Jesus knows something we don’t; it can be more difficult to forgive and be reconciled to a friend who has hurt us or betrayed us, than it is to even forgive an enemy. Why? We expected an enemy to hurt us, so that when an enemy desires to be reconciled, it can be easier than when a friend hurts us which came as an utter surprise to us. It doesn’t take us long to consider the history of the Christian church to observe how divided and even violent church divisions have been. This indicates how difficult it has been for us to apply Jesus’ command for us to love each other. The point is that our need is for Jesus to do much more in us than we often ask him for.

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