John 18 testimony part 1
First, “Jesus before the soldiers.” Every time I study this passage, I am so amazed at Jesus’ overwhelming spirit. The soldiers could have arrested Him and all his disciples; at Peter’s irrational behavior, the situation could have become really terrible, but everything went according to Jesus’ desire because he was full of spirit. As a result, his voice was not shaky, his words were very sharp, his eyes were firm, he was very bold and confident. This is the result of his prayer struggle. I see that in doing God’s work, I must have this kind of prayer struggle continually. When I do not pray, I am very weak during fishing and Bible study. I am scared of people. I don’t know what I am going to say, or how to respond to their questions. Like Peter, I become miserably defeated, no spirit at all, just weeping bitterly in a little dark room.
Last semester I began to pray more as I learned from the fall of Jericho that my prayer must reach completion in fighting the Lord’s battle. As a result, I experienced many victories, not only in serving many Bible studies, but also in not seeing sheep falling away as a failure. I was not bothered at all when students did not show up or their attitude was not good during my Bible study. At that time, I did not see fishing as suffering, but as God’s glory being revealed. My life was powerful, dynamic, and wonderful. I could speak to anyone freely. When sheep compromised and tried to justify themselves, I could clearly point out the problem and show them what was right.
Now as the semester ends, I tend not to pray as much as before. This passage reminds me to keep this prayer struggle so that I can serve my summer sheep boldly like Jesus. Without this, I can’t protect them, let alone raise them up as disciples. Actually, when I think about this, without this prayer struggle I cannot even survive here; the reality looks so scary. Sometimes I just give into fear or worry a little bit, but then when my body cannot even function well, I immediately come to God in prayer, and He somehow restores my spirit. This year I am going to finish my program, get a job, extend my visa, help my wife in her career matter, lead the fellowship in a sound way, and save seven souls. None of this can be achieved if I take my prayer casually.
Then, Jesus shows that there are two ways of dealing with conflicts. The human way is to draw the sword and fight, while God’s way is to drink the cup of sufferings and submit. Once, my wife said something that bothered me, and after just one second my brain had automatically generated a list of ways to attack back, at least 10 kinds of weapons that I could use. Even though I forced myself not to use any of them, my temper became bad, while she might not even have known what’s going on. In fact, she is very good at not drawing the sword, maybe due to her childhood experience; she bears me a lot as sometimes I carelessly say hurtful words. At church or before my sheep I am more mindful and careful, but still, my eyes, my tone, or my attitude can hurt or kill them when their words bother me, or the direction goes against my style, preference or agenda.
Actually, this is what my old life was all about. I drew my sword all the time. If anyone bothered me while I played video games, I would draw the sword; when my co-workers said something that humiliated me, I would remember it for a long time and fire back at the right time. But as I fought, fought and fought, I became so tired. Eventually, I felt that I did not even have the strength to pick my sword up. I did not want to fight anymore, but I had to, I must fight.
Now in God, sometimes I still feel the same way; I have even a good reason to fight. Whenever I see casual believers sitting in the student union doing nothing but wasting their time on worthless things, I want to fight. If other Christians dare to challenge me with their theology, I want to strike them down one by one, in the name of serving Jesus. But look at Jesus, he did not do those things. He knew what was going to happen to him, he knew how much pain he would go through, and still he chose to go that way. In his eyes, it was the cup the Father prepared for him, so he could trust in God and submit. As a result, Jesus revealed God’s glory to the max in terms of degree, time and space.
This is God’s way. I don’t need to fight anymore. Jesus tells me, “Put your sword away, just follow my example.” You are misunderstood, you are wronged, even you are labeled as bad people, I know. You are humiliated, you are despised, people see you as a weak person, I know. But it is through putting my sword down that glory goes to Jesus and he can be revealed as the LORD. It is through such actions that peace goes to people and salvation occurs.
What would happen if all Christians no longer protest but drink the cup and go to the cross boldly in front of the world? What would happen if people no longer drop bombs on their enemies but just drink the cup the Jehovah God gives them? What a beautiful and glorious scene it will be! But it all starts from one person who chooses to drink the cup, and it should be me, because I am the one who knows Jesus, eternal life, and the resurrection. This is Christian life.