2014-10-02 - Matching God's Will
Originally Published 2001-03-15
John 6:63-65 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.
Judas is such an unlikely character. It strikes me as fantastic that this well-educated man ate, drank, slept, walked and talked in Jesus' close company for about three years and the real mission of Jesus never dawns on Judas. He stood in the face of miracles and quite likely performed miracles himself. There is no record of him being singled out as never performing a miracle. The goal of Judas connecting himself with Jesus' company were political in nature. Jesus was the Messiah - the one who would throw off the Roman yoke of oppression and free the Jewish nation. By allying himself with Jesus closely and early, a position in the new Kingdom would be almost assured.
Judas was so focused on what he thought was right that he was blinded to the actual truth and will of God when it stood before him speaking. His will was locked into a course of actions that would eventually try to force the hand of the Lord into revealing Himself by bringing the Pharisees into the picture and putting Jesus on trial for His life. Judas never allowed his will to be conformed to the will of God.
Matt 16:22-23 And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." 23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
God's will and Jesus' purpose in coming was to satisfy the law with His perfect mortal life cancelling the power of sin and to shatter the power of death with His resurrection three days later. When Peter tried to correct his Master, Jesus turned and harshly rebuked Peter. While I'm sure Peter stung and smarted from the stern correction, he eventually learned that Jesus was in control and knew what was best. He slowly allowed his will to be corrected to match God's will and plan. He would watch his beloved wife be executed in the Coliseum only a short time, a day by tradition, before his own execution. He surrendered even her to the will of God knowing they would be together again as members of the faithful at Jesus' feet. By tradition, Nero asked Peter if he had any last request. Peter answered that he was not worthy to die in the same manor as his Lord. He requested to have the cross tipped to form an X and to be crucified head down. It would be an agonizing death, but in those changes he humbled Caesar and exalted Christ.
Ex 7:13-14 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. 14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. (KJV)
By contrast, Moses goes to Pharaoh at God's command to demand the release of the Jewish nation that Egypt held in slavery. At each turn, Pharaoh we read that would "harden his heart" against the correction of God. Each of the plagues was a direct attack on the Egyptian religious system. Rather than accept the correction and the discrediting of the deities of Egypt, Pharaoh refused to bend his will to align his mind with that of the Living God.
We catch a glimpse of the balance between human free will and God's sovereign control. Where we see phrases like "Pharaoh's heart was hardened," "Pharaoh hardened his heart" - both seem to contradict. In the first phrase, it appears that God hardens Pharaoh's heart. In the second phrase, it appears that Pharaoh becomes obstinate. The word translated hardened can also be translated confirm. The balance is this. That Pharaoh refuses to acknowledge the defeat of the religious system of Egypt - hardening his heart against the correction of God. When Pharaoh refuses to conform his will to match God's will, God confirms, or agrees with Pharaoh and in His sovereign control, permits Pharaoh to remove his heart and will from correction. This clears the path for the judgment of Egypt.
How does this affect us? Well, like Ananias who questioned the Lord (Acts 9:13) when he was instructed to go and visit Saul of Tarsus. When the Lord explained that Saul was a chosen vessel, Ananias conformed his will to the will of his Lord and met Saul. Through the obedience of Ananias, the journey of the murderous Saul of Tarsus became the witness of the Apostle Paul. The humble and obedient Paul would rock the Roman world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we have clear instruction from God through His leading or the Scriptures, we need to conform our will to that instruction. Through that matching of our will with God's will, the unthinkable is possible, salvation comes to the least likely in our eyes. Or through that obedience, empires, worldly strongholds, are rocked by the gentle call of the Master, "Follow me."
Lord Jesus - help us to trust Your leading and follow Your sovereign will as it is laid out before us. Amen.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.