hard places

From the very beginning of our study of JOHN, we have been invited to “Come and See!” – to see JESUS!  John recorded his account so others could know God’s Son.  Through John’s gospel, Jesus made it clear that He longs for us to know Him, and in doing so, to know the Father.

So, who is this One we have come to know through John’s words of testimony?  Well… even John says that books could not contain all there is to say about our Lord Jesus.  There are so many amazing discoveries about Him that impact us deeply and eternally.  But I find myself coming back to one particular thought.

Jesus, our Savior, was not afraid of hard places.

He was not afraid.  The picture of calm, majestic poise, He was never anxious, hurried or panicked.  He was simply steady, even under fire, confident that His Father’s plans and purposes would be carried out.

Jesus came along side of individual people in their hard places.

The Samaritan woman at the well, the official from Galilee whose son was sick, the woman caught in adultery, the blind man, the lame man, even Nicodemus who felt he had to bring his hard questions to Jesus in the dark of night because of fear – Jesus met them all, personally.  He wanted them to know Him – to know that He is the One who could rescue them, break the bondage of all that entangled them, offer them unchangeable truth and eternal life.

Jesus didn’t shy away from hard places created by His opponents.

As the religious leaders peppered Him with questions, trying to trap Him with tricky interpretations of the law they followed so ceremoniously, Jesus didn’t side-step the tension.  Jesus wanted them to know Him.  He loved them enough to challenge their concept of God and His eternal plan.  He hoped their escalating questions would lead them to real answers – to the understanding that He is the Messiah prophesied to come and that through Him they could truly know the Father.

Jesus knowingly allowed His followers to walk through their own hard places.

His disciples alone in a boat on a stormy sea, His dear friends grieving the loss of Lazarus, or Peter facing strangers’ questions about His loyalty to Jesus – Jesus wanted them to know Him in fresh, new ways.  He prayed for them, that their faith would not fail.  He knew they would reach for Him and find Him real and present and faithful and more powerful than they could ever imagine!

Jesus stepped willingly forward into His own hard places.

Even in agony, anticipating the brutality of the cross, the unspeakable wrath of God against sin, and separation from His Father, our Savior really never considered any other choice.  Out of obedience to the Father’s will and extravagant love for us, He offered His own life’s blood to redeem us because He was the only One who could.

Jesus reached out of His own hard places to meet others in theirs – to care for His mother, to promise paradise to a repentant thief, even to pray that the Father would forgive those who were torturing Him for what they were doing in ignorance.

The joy that was set before Him carried Jesus through the cross.  The joy of pleasing the Father, the joy of breaking the bondage of sin, the joy of conquering death and rising triumphantly from the grave – but also the JOY of reconciling us to God!  He wanted us to know Him and to know true and lasting peace with the Father!

So how have these lessons impacted me, personally?

I don’t need to fear my own hard places.

The confidence Jesus had in the Father’s plans can be my confidence as well.  His Father is my Father.  His God is my God – the same yesterday, today and forever!  Just as the Father steadied His Son, He can steady me.  I can trust Him to meet me in my hard places, to save me from what entangles me, and to fulfill His purposes.

I can trust Him with the hard places my loved ones face.  I don’t need to fret or worry or wish I could step in to rescue them from those moments.  I can replace anxious thoughts with bold prayers that my loved ones will discover something new and truly life-altering about the Savior in their hard places.

I can cling to the joy set before each one of us – the joy of knowing Jesus our Savior, in fresh new ways, of reaching for Him when we need Him most and finding Him real, present, faithful, and more powerful than we could ever imagine!

Just as Jesus spoke Mary’s name at the tomb, He calls me by name, for I am His!  He invites me to come and see – to see only Him.  As I seek to know Jesus, He will lead me to the Father.  As I follow Him, He will lead me Home to the Father – forever. 

He speaks to the storms that threaten to overwhelm me, and says “Peace, be still.”

And He comes along side of me, His child, takes me by the hand and whispers to my heart, “It is I.  The eternally unchangeable, great I AM.”  – “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

 Read more here! – the gospel of JOHN

hard places

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