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Many times Jesus asked those who came to Him seeking healing or deliverance, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  And indeed it was when the disciples, James and John, said to Jesus, “…we want You to do for us whatever we ask,” that He replied to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

We are so used to asking the Lord to do for us what we want that we expect Him to say to us whenever we come before Him in prayer… “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The only place where you see the disciples ask the Lord a question as to what or where He wanted them to do or go was at the preparation for the Passover before His crucifixion.  Again, if you read Matthew 26.17, you get the impression that the disciples asked first:  On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to make preparations for You to eat the Passover?”  And in Mark 14.12, likewise you get the same impression:  On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Where do You want us to go and make preparations for You to eat the Passover?”  It is not until you read the account of the same event by Luke in Luke 22.7-9 that you realise it was Jesus who spoke to them first:  Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”  “Where do You want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

Yet again, when the different accounts of the same event are put together, a very different sequence of events unfold.  It was not the disciples who took the initiative as Matthew and Mark would have us think, but rather, their question to Jesus, “Where do You want us to…” came after Jesus told them to go and make preparations for them to eat the Passover.  The truth is the initiative came from Jesus, not them.

This is just another reminder of the need to know the entire word, the entire library, in detail so that you get the true picture of what is being described.  It takes time, it takes effort, but it is worthwhile… and until you have learnt to master the holy library, there is really no point going into the libraries of the world for their commentaries.  For the reformist, it was sola scriptura, which was his stance against the habit of the church to approve traditions as equal to Scripture in authority.

For the elect, the stance must be ‘complete Scripture’, that is, Scripture taken in its entire completeness so that the truth can be seen as is the case above or as often reminded, the incident after the feeding of the 5000 and the events of resurrection morning.  Mistakes are made by us when we fail to see and present the complete picture, but see and present only one view from one facet that suits our liking.

If one is not aware of Luke’s account, but read only Matthew’s and Mark’s, you would have been led into error, thinking the disciples took the initiative before the Passover supper and asked Jesus first, but this is not the case.

A basic simple innovation in the behaviour of each of us is:  Instead of always going to Jesus and saying, “Lord, we want You to do this or that for us,” or ‘waiting on the Lord’, as the phrase goes, to tell us where, what, when or how we are to go and do things, is to simply take the initiative, truly take the initiative and ask, “Lord, what, where, when and how do You want us to do and go?”

It is not being presumptuous if you were to ask what, where, when or how of the Lord… whereas in Luke 9.54-56 – When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do You want us to call fire down from Heaven to destroy them?”  But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” – John and James were presumptive of what Jesus wanted to do, for instead of asking, “Lord, what do You want us to do?” they suggested what the Lord should do in ignorance of the spirit they were of.

Learning to overcome the presumption and the inertia are two innovations that we can introduce once we have overcome the tradition of disobedience and not listening to Jesus as well as not doing exactly what we are told.

By now, if you have been elected for this work by the Holy Spirit (that is, having read up to this chapter from the beginning and done the homework with the Scriptures), you will know that the twelve did not listen and went to Capernaum instead, that the eleven did not obey and did not go to Galilee that morning as soon as the message was given… so that you know listening to Jesus and obeying Him are the primary requisites of the journey, and it is only by holding onto what you have heard and been commanded that you are really His disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will see you free… set free into the freedom that only the Son can give you.

Likewise, you know that those who believe Him, but choose to listen to the judgments of others that go against what Jesus said, live a life bound up by religious hypocrisy, superstitions and traditions that make a mockery of the power of the Gospel of Christ.  It is better to do what Jesus says even when you do not understand it, even when it does not make sense or seem good, than to listen to those who seem to be wise with their persuasiveness.  It is better to turn the other cheek when you are struck than to defend yourself.  It is better to let someone take your cloak and give them your shirt as well than to resist… even though it appears to be nonsense.  It is better to eat bread and drink wine as His flesh and blood even though by our faith you have contravened the law… it is far better because and only because Jesus said so.  For it is when you are prepared to do as you are told that you can be trusted with the real treasures.  It is only when you are prepared to turn the other cheek that you experience the power of God to whither the arm that is about to strike you and have the privilege to be the one to restore that arm.  Jesus’ words may not make sense… and when the Holy Spirit can only remind us of His words, then even the Holy Spirit would not seem to make sense… at all.

Ananias of Damascus had this problem, for in Acts 9.10-16:  The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”  “Yes, Lord,” he answered.  The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”  “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your Name.”  But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go!  This man is My chosen instrument to carry My Name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.”  To Ananias, it did not make sense.  Paul was blind… fantastic, leave him blind… vengeance, Lord, for Your saints!  However, we know with hindsight what a mighty apostle Paul became. 

Going to Bethsaida after the feeding of the 5000 made no sense.  Capernaum was just across the lake and a much better place to advertise the great miracle of the loaves and fish than a little village like Bethsaida.

Going to Galilee to meet Him made no sense.  Surely it would be better to meet Him at the grave and to go into Jerusalem to confront Pilate and Caiaphas immediately and show them… He is risen!

Reading the Bible only over and over again, one a month, highlighting only the spoken words of God, writing them, and keeping the congregation small makes no sense.  Use the other resources, enlarge the church, increase the numbers, get a large building and make an impact for Jesus were the advice of men who seemed wise and were persuasive.  But now we know it makes sense, it always makes sense, always did and always will, why would we need to listen to anyone else?  God has given us the best from the beginning when He commanded us, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”

So now that the disobedience is overcome, it is time to overcome the presumption and the inertia; the presumption that you know what the Lord wants done as James and John did when the Samaritans opposed them; the presumption that the Lord wanted Judas replaced before the Holy Spirit arrived as Peter did; and the inertia of not asking the Lord first where He would like to celebrate the Passover until He had to ask them.  For the celebration of the Passover is something they all knew was coming already… all of Jerusalem knew, just like you and I know when Christmas is near. 

It is a simple initiative to ask, “Lord, where do You want to celebrate the Passover?” weeks before the feast, instead of waiting until the day of the feast itself for Him to say to you, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover,” and you then have to ask, “Where…?”  You have not thought about it for Him?  And instead, if you are not careful and diligent, end up thinking that Jesus had not made preparations beforehand so that on the day of the feast, the disciples appeared to ask first rather than Jesus who spoke first.  How easy it is for us to dishonour Him and make hypocrites of ourselves when we say, “Lord, we praise You, love You and worship You.”

It has been about 1900 years since He last said, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Is not it time to take the initiative and ask, “Lord, what has happened?  It has been around 1900 years since You said that,” instead of taking the presumption that God will send Jesus back when He is ready and sink into the quagmire of inertia and wait for Jesus to come?  And if He does not come before we die… nevermind, we will see Him in Heaven.  Hallelujah!

Of course it is pointless to speak to anyone about the initiatives needed if they are not prepared to listen, to obey, to practise and to come to recognize and know the only Person on Earth who can tell us what has happened.  Just as Jesus did not stop them before they left the shore for Capernaum, but allowed them to be stuck in the middle of the lake for a few hours, so likewise, the Holy Spirit has not stopped those who have let go of listening to Jesus to follow after those who seem to be important like James the Younger.  He has not even bothered to stop the ‘church’ from having its liturgy based on a letter not addressed for the churches, but for the twelve tribes.

If the current liturgy of the denominations was founded on the seven letters dictated personally by Jesus to the churches instead of a letter written by one who did not believe in Him when they were brothers in flesh for decades, the current state of affairs would be very different.  At least the practices of the Nicolaitans, Balaamites and Jezebelians would not be so rife, and first love, love of enemies, would be so that we would be loving our enemies as we love one another, even dying for them, so that one could not perceive any difference in the practice of the two commandments of love – “Love your enemies” and “Love one another.  As I have loved you…” – both of which in truth are new commandments given by Jesus… one to His general disciples and the other to His apostles.  For the command “Love one another.  As I have loved you…” really means, “Lay down your lives for one another as I have laid down My life for you whilst you were still My Father’s enemies, friends.”  As His friends, we are supposed to know that that is why He called us friends.  He called Judas, “Friend,” because Judas was helping Him do exactly that… lay down His life for His Father’s enemies.  If that is the case, where do we stand when we persecute each other, excommunicate each other, war and kill each other within the church?  How will we answer to the Lord when we killed our own (brothers and sisters) when we were supposed to love each other as He loves us, even when we were His enemies?  How can any one of us hope to stand before the Lord, except if our heads are separated from our shoulders, for the shame we brought Him?  For when we treated as unclean His blood, then only our blood flowing freely from our own shoulders, freed of the burden of our heads, can cover us.  Is it any wonder that John saw only those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God who have part in the first resurrection?  Only those martyrs escape the judgment of the great white throne, which is reserved for all who are part of the second resurrection, for both believers and unbelievers.

But for those who do respond to the restoration of the command, repent, and just like Josiah of old who found the book of the law after it was lost… to those who listen and have ears to hear, the time and the privilege to take the initiative has begun.  The initiatives that come because out of their mouths the 30, 60, 100 fold harvest of the words that have been sown into the hearts of men are flowing, as out of their mouths come these words of the Lord returned back to Him 30, 60, 100 fold… “What do you want me to do for You, Lord?”  Selah.

Amen Holy Spirit.

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