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. There are times I didn’t obey God, at least by my standards. I would have saved myself some wasted days devoted to depression if I had measured myself by Jesus’ standard.
Three words leaped off the page in 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. Those three life changing words were “they have obeyed your word” (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 of humanity. They tried to silence blind Bartimaeus lest he disturb the healer. They 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 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.”
Jesus told us in his prayer what gave him the audacity to say his disciples obeyed.
I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. (John 17:8, NLT)
They accepted the things Jesus taught and believed God sent him. Using Jesus’ standard of what it means to obey I have obeyed as well. Have you?