Guilt is a difficult thing to live with. For most of my Christian life, which encompasses all of my life except the first fifteen years, I have obsessed over the things I didn’t do. My life has been far from perfect. There are times I didn’t obey God, at lest by my standards. I would have saved myself some wasted days devoted to depression if I had measured myself by his standard.
Recently, I read Jesus prayer before he died; not the prayer at Gethsemane, when he asked God if there was another way to save humanity. The one he prayed after he told his disciples they would abandon him. Three words leaped off the page: “they have obeyed” (John 17:6).
What gave Jesus the audacity to tell his father that his disciples obeyed! His disciples quarreled with one another and forbid children from approaching the savior. They tried to silence blind Bartimaeus lest he disturb the healer and failed to heal the son of a desperate father. James and John jockeyed for the number two spot in God’s kingdom, causing the rest of the disciples to be indignant. They gloried in the power to command spirits instead of glorying in God’s love for them. They wanted to destroy an entire city by calling fire down from heaven. None of them had a clue Jesus would die a tragic death, even though he told them how he would die more than once.
These are the same disciples that Jesus knew would abandon him when he suffered. Jesus knew Peter would deny him. He also knew they would forsake their calling and return to their fishing boats. Yet, Jesus said, “they have obeyed your word.”
The disciples were far from perfect, but they were willing to follow Jesus even when their humanity got in the way. Jesus told us in his prayer what gave him the audacity to say his disciples obeyed. They accepted the things Jesus taught and believed that God sent him. Using Jesus standard, I have obeyed as well. Have you?