John 14:9-10 NLT – Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”
God is revealed through Jesus.
If we want to know God, then we need to get to know Jesus. And thankfully there are four entire books of the Bible dedicated to the life of Jesus. We call them the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Through this series, we are working through the book of John and observing the way of Jesus. What we’re finding out is that the way of Jesus is different.
So, when you follow Jesus, people are going to think that you are different. But hey, we’re all different together. So one last time, look at someone next to you and say, “I always knew you were different.”
Whatever You Ask
Last week, we looked at scripture after scripture of Jesus telling us that we can ask for anything and He will do it.
It’s clear that Jesus wants us to get to a place where we ask and fully trust that we will receive what we ask for. He doesn’t want us asking and hoping it works. No, He wants us asking and believing it is done.
It’s really quite funny how Jesus explained this to the disciples. Take a look:
John 16:24 NKJV – Until now you have asked nothing in My name…
I’m pretty sure Jesus would say this same thing to us today. He would look at our small, pitiful version of ‘asking’ and say, “You think you’re asking for something big. But really, you haven’t asked for anything yet. So…”
John 16:24 NKJV – Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
The day after I preached this message about the importance of asking, I was reading the final chapter in a book called “Vessels of Fire and Glory” by Mario Murillo.
In the last chapter, Mario is talking about how to usher in the next great awakening and he refers back to a message Smith Wigglesworth preached in Los Angeles on August 11, 1929.
In his message, Wigglesworth gave a solemn warning about the last days. He said that half of the body of Christ would not be ready, but there was something we could do to get ready. Here’s what he said:
“Surely you people that have been asking great things from God for a long time would be amazed, if you just had clear knowledge that it is Jesus who has such knowledge of the mightiness of the power of the Father and of the joint union with Him that nothing is impossible for you to ask. Surely it is only Jesus who could say “Until now, you have asked nothing…” So God means me to press you another step forward. Begin to believe on extravagant asking, believing that God is pleased when you ask large things.” -Smith Wigglesworth
In the book, Mario Murilllo goes on to explain how this message form 1929 applies to what we are going through right now in 2021:
“We have entered a time of extravagant asking. It is time to ask God for the impossible and the unimaginable. These askers are coming. These are the greater works that Jesus declared. What if the best churches haven’t even been planted yet? What if the greatest sermons are yet to be preached? What if the best inventions, books, songs, and miracles are yet to come? I wouldn’t doubt it. God always saves the best for last.” -Mario Murillo
So, what are you going to ask God for?
Because the first thing that comes to mind isn’t big enough. God is not impressed with our false sense of humility in small asking. He is looking for extravagant askers. Will you be one of them?
Jesus Gets Arrested
We are now at the point in the book of John where Jesus is about to get arrested. This is the kickoff to the Easter message we hear every year of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the very reason Jesus came to the earth, to offer Himself as a holy sacrifice so that we could be saved.
As I was preparing this message, I was asking the Lord what He wants to show us as we go another time over this most important message, and He gave me two things that I am going to share with you today.
It all starts when Jesus was with His disciples in one of the places they went to get away from the crowd. And then Judas leads in a group of Roman soldiers and temple guards with blazing torches and weapons. Sounds frightening, but take a look at how Jesus handled the situation:
John 18:4 NLT – Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
I love this! They showed up with the best intimidation tactic they could come up with and Jesus wasn’t in his tent fretting about what was getting ready to happen. He didn’t try to get away from them. He actually approached them and said, “Hey y’all. Who are you looking for?”
What happened next is even better. They told Jesus they were looking for Jesus and Jesus simply said, “I am He” and here’s what happened:
John 18:6 NLT – As Jesus said “ I Am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!
That’s great, isn’t it? These guys fell out in the spirit. So if you’ve ever seen someone fall out at church and wondered if it was real, well, now you know.
After they got back up, Jesus willingly gave himself up to be arrested. And what you need to remember from this is that Jesus willingly gave himself up. He didn’t run. He didn’t hide. He said, “Here I am. Go ahead and arrest me.”
Jesus was arrested and taken not to jail, but to the religious leaders to be questioned. They didn’t like His straight-forward answers, so they slapped Him across the face. They beat Him. They tied Him up. And then they sent Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate.
Surprisingly, Pilate did everything he could to release Jesus because he could not find anything Jesus had done wrong.
They even had a custom to release one Jewish prisoner each year at Passover, so Pilate asked if he could release Jesus. And the people said, “No! Not Jesus! We want Barabbas!”
So, instead of releasing an innocent man, they chose to release a thief. Even after all of this, Pilate still didn’t want to kill Jesus, so he tried one more time to work his way out of it. Take a look:
John 19:9-11 NLT – He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
Pilate worked so hard to save Jesus. He truly thought he had the power to stop what Jesus had willingly started. But take a look at Jesus’ response:
John 19:9-11 NLT – Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Remember how Jesus willingly gave himself up to the soldiers? And now he is letting the governor know, “You have no power over me. This is my call. I am the one who decided to do this.”
If we go back a few chapters, to John chapter 10, we get further clarification on what is going on here. Jesus said:
John 10:18 NLT – No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.
So let me ask you, who decided when Jesus was to be arrested, beaten, and killed? Was it the religious leaders? Was it Roman soldiers? Was it the governor? Was it Judas? No. It was Jesus. Jesus decided when it was time.
This is the first thing the Lord wants you to know today:
Jesus decided when to lay down His life.
Do you know why this truth is so important? Two reasons:
First, this shows you that Jesus willingly sacrificed His life to save yours. He didn’t have to do it. He wanted to do it. He wanted to make a way for you to be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.
The second reason this is important is because the same goes for you. God has given you authority over your own life. The only one who can decide when to lay it down is you.
And I understand that what I just said comes with a lot of opposing thoughts. We think of all the people who have died, who shouldn’t have. Maybe they died in a car accident, or as a child, or whatever the case may be.
I have one of these situations in my own life. A few years ago, at age 50, my father-in-law passed away. He was a healthy, God-fearing man and all of a sudden, he was sick and then gone within just a few months.
When he was in the hospital, my wife had a conversation with him. She knew that he could be miraculously healed that day and walk out of the hospital. So she asked if that’s what he wanted. Surprisingly, it’s not what he wanted.
My father-in-law made the decision that he was ready to lay down his life. And really, who could blame him for wanting to leave this world to go be with his Heavenly Father? It was hard on us, but he is having the time of his life.
There are lots of people who die prematurely. Sometimes it’s by choice, but most of the time it’s because they didn’t know God gave them authority over their own life. So satan took advantage of the situation and came to kill, steal and destroy.
You can decide when to lay down your life.
Remember, Jesus decided when it was time to lay down His life. And He wants you to know that you can decide when it’s time to lay down your life. You don’t have to die prematurely. God wants to satisfy you with long life.
When you understand this truth, you live your life differently. Fear no longer controls you. Sickness no longer scares you. Death is no longer a big deal. You live with confidence knowing that you get to decide when it’s time to go.
So, when you face sickness, you laugh because you know it’s not going to take you out! When you get in the car every day, you drive with complete peace knowing that a car accident is not going to take you out.
Some people would think this is blasphemy, that we are somehow offending God by walking in the authority He gave us. But it actually pleases God when we walk in our God-given authority.
He needs us to be courageous so that when He asks us to go into a dangerous situation, we go in boldly, not fearing death, because we know that no one can kill us until we decide it’s time. Here’s how Jesus explains it:
John 12:25 NKJV – He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus is saying if all you do is try to preserve this life, you’ll lose it anyways. That’s why you need to know your authority, so you don’t waste time trying to preserve your life. Instead, you pursue your God-given assignment with boldness and with courage.
A question that often comes up in this discussion is, “What about martyrs? What about people who are killed because of their faith?”
Honestly, I think most of them know it is their assignment. So, it looks like they are being killed, but they are actually willingly laying down their life for Jesus. They decided when it was time.
The Apostle Paul in the Bible is the best example of this. He encountered many things that should have killed him. One time he was shipwrecked for fourteen days. Another time he was bitten by a poisonous snake.
There was a time where people threw a bunch of big rocks at Paul and left him for dead. But he didn’t die because he hadn’t yet decided to lay down his life.
Paul went through a lot. And then the time finally came where he was ready to lay down his own life, and here’s how he explained it:
II Timothy 4:6-7 NKJV – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
When we understand that we get to decide when to lay down our lives, we no longer fear persecution. We don’t fear speaking out against the corruption in our school system. We don’t fear exposing woke spirituality for the deception that it is.
We don’t fear people who threaten us because we know that they have no authority over our lives unless we give them the authority that God gave us.
It’s not that we want to die. We just know that we won’t die until it’s time. And when it’s time, you’ll know. Whether you are an old geyser or a young martyr, you’ll know when it’s time and you’ll be at peace with it.
Jesus willingly laid down His life to save your’s.
As soon as Jesus started His earthly ministry, there were people out to kill Him. They tried to stone Him. They tried to run Him off a cliff. But they never could because only Jesus could decide when it was time.
When it was time, Jesus willingly gave up His life for you. He suffered through one of the most gruesome, awful deaths so that you could be healed, saved and delivered from the power of sin.
He didn’t have to do it. He wanted to do it. He had you in His mind and that’s what motivated Him to endure the suffering. He wanted your sins to be forgiven once and for all. He wanted to save you from eternal death.
So that’s what Jesus did. He was crucified and died on a cross. But it didn’t end there. On the third day, He rose from the dead just as He said He would.
What Jesus Said After the Resurrection
After He rose from the dead, Jesus had a few meetings with the disciples before ascending into heaven. And that’s where we discover the next thing the Lord wants us to know today.
Let’s take a look at the account of the first meeting:
John 20:19-21 NLT – That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.
Clearly, they did not yet understand what we just talked about. But, who can blame them because they had just watched Jesus be crucified three days earlier.
Thankfully, locked doors cannot keep Jesus out. Take a look:
John 20:19-21 NLT – Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.
So what is the first thing Jesus said to the disciples after the resurrection? “Peace be with you!” He could see that they were afraid and He didn’t want His disciples living that way, so He commanded, “Peace be with you.”
John 20:19-21 NLT – As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Once again, Jesus commands peace to be with the disciples. But this time He gives them a reason. Why do they need this peace? Because they are being sent out.
The book of Mark gives us detail on what Jesus was sending them out to do:
Mark 16:15-18 NKJV – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Whew! That’s a big assignment. Good thing Jesus gives us peace, because we are going to need it. And the main reason we need it is because there will be plenty of people who don’t like us doing these things.
But this peace surpasses all understanding. In other words, we don’t understand why we are peaceful as we cast out demons, yet we are. We don’t understand why we still have peace when we are persecuted, but we do.
So, this is the second thing the Lord wanted me to show you today:
Peace be with you.
Many of the things we’ve talked about over the past 16 weeks are challenging. Our incorrect beliefs have been challenged. Our wrong thinking has been challenged. It’s not easy to embrace something that’s different.
But Jesus doesn’t want us to be troubled by these things. He wants us to have peace that surpasses all understanding.
In the midst of a world that’s afraid of a virus and a culture that gets upset about everything, Jesus commands His peace to be with you.
In the days to come, the Holy Spirit will lead you into things that will challenge you. You’ll be uncomfortable. Other people will fuss at you for what God has called you to. You may even confront fear for your life or your family.
But when you know the truth, the truth will set you free. You get to decide when it’s time to lay down your life. Until then, live bold and live strong because there is no person, there is no sickness that can take you out.
So, peace be with you. In the words of Jesus:
John 14:27 NKJV – Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Remember how we just read that the disciples were behind locked doors because they were afraid? That’s where the American church has been for a long time now. Afraid of the government. Afraid to confront the works of the devil.
We’ve been locked up in our nice buildings because we’re afraid to go into all the world, especially the dark places of the world, and preach the gospel to every single person no matter how scary they are.
You know, the disciples went on to do some truly amazing things. They came out of their locked room and turned the world upside down with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Where Boldness Comes From
But what gave them the boldness to step out? What helped them overcome their fear of the religious leaders? Take a look:
Acts 1:8 NKJV – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
It was the Holy Spirit. It was what Jesus had promised them. And Jesus even said it is better for us to have the Holy Spirit than for us to have Him here in the flesh.
You’ve probably thought to yourself, “I wish I could have seen Jesus work these miracles. It would make it a lot easier for me to believe.” But the truth is, you have something better. You have the Holy Spirit available to you.
How to Receive the Holy Spirit
So how do you receive the Holy Spirit? Here’s how one of the disciples explained it:
Acts 2:38 NKJV – Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance comes first. You have to make a choice to turn away from your old sinful life. And then you call upon Jesus Christ to completely forgive your sin, wash you clean, and set you free from the power of sin.
Repentance and salvation comes first. Then you RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit. In other words, all you have to do is say “Yes. I receive the Holy Spirit.”