Once in a while I read something that makes my heart beat faster and that happened as I read a piece from Alexander Maclaren on the love of Christ. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) was a Baptist pastor in Manchester, England. His Expositions of Holy Scripture were printed in 32 volumes and...
Faithfulness is often a target for our modern culture. Being in the same place for a long time apparently means you lack initiative, aspiration, or innovation. Some people assume that being in the same relationship with the same person for your whole life is just plain wrong. And many distrust anyone who is too committed to one worldview.
But from the outset of the Bible, God makes it clear that He will be faithful to us and that God’s people are to be faithful to Him alone. As Christians, we believe this and strive for this. But as people in culture, we are pulled in every direction away from it. I invite you now to return to the center, to gaze at the faithfulness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in order to increase your fruit of faithfulness.
Jesus was faithful to His mother, even when she didn’t understand Him.
And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” (Luke 2:48)
Jesus’s mother, Mary, did not always understand everything about Jesus. In the above verse, we see she is confronting the boy Jesus as to why He was not with them. As any mother would be, Mary was worried sick! But this was no regular boy, Jesus was the Savior of the world, the promised Messiah, and a person of the triune God.
Surely, there would have been other moments like this throughout Jesus’s lifetime. As God of the universe, Jesus “would have had the right,” as we like to say, to be angry with her. To say, “You really don’t get it, do you?” Or, “don’t you know who I am?” But in the face of someone misunderstanding Him, Jesus responded with grace and faithfulness.
In his sermon “Giving as Much as You Know of Yourself,” Pastor Colin said, “Jesus spent three years in public ministry, but before that He was a carpenter for about 20 years. He cared for his mother. He offered himself to God, as much in his carpentry and in caring for His mother as He did when he preached the gospel and performed the miracles.”
Jesus perfectly served his mother, and his father, even though at times they did not understand Him. Can we say that about ourselves? Are we faithful to those who don’t get us? Do we serve those who don’t give us as much respect as we think they ought?
Jesus was faithful to His friends, even when they criticized Him.
So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” (John 11:20-22)
Perhaps “criticized” is too strong of a word here to describe what Martha said to Jesus. And even if she was criticizing Him, she seems to take some of it back in her next sentence. Yet the effect is still there. She is bothered that Jesus was not around when Lazarus seemed to need Him the most.
I don’t know what happens to you when you’ve been working hard and then someone criticizes you for something you didn’t do. But I do know what happens to me! I fill up with rage, I turn away, and I start muttering to myself. This person has no idea how hard I’ve worked today. He has no right to say that to me. And I either begrudgingly do what they asked, or I don’t do it all!
Jesus, however, said to Martha: “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). He was faithful to His friends. He knew their pain, and He did not abandon them in their time of need.
Jesus was faithful to His disciples, even when they denied Him.
[Peter] began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74-75)
Imagine yourself at work or school. A supervisor comes over to you and says you are in big trouble. You are going to be fired, or expelled, even though you did nothing wrong!
As you are led down out of the building, you see your best friend in the middle of a crowd of people. And you hear him or her saying to the others, “No, I’m not friends with them! I barely even knew them. In fact, I swear I did not know them at all!”
The next time you see that person, what would you say? I can’t believe you would do that! We’re done. I’ll never forgive you.
But Jesus was faithful to Peter. He welcomed Him back, allowing Peter to express his love for his friend, Jesus. And Jesus kept His promise to have Peter be the rock upon which the Church was built (Matthew 16:18).
Jesus was faithful to His persecutors, even when they killed Him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:33-34)
When we are treated wrong, we like to make a fuss about it. When we can prove that someone has done us wrong, we are unlikely to let it go.
Now, much of what we consider “persecution” in America is not that at all. I don’t deny that there is persecution, but web algorithms pushing Christian content away into the recesses of the internet is not it. Yet even if it were, Jesus gives us a stunning picture as to how we are to respond to true persecution: “Father, forgive them!”
Let us be faithful to the people God has called us to be a light to.
Jesus is faithful to us, even though we rejected Him.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:7-9)
And here’s the kicker. The family member who didn’t understand Him, the friend who criticized Him, the disciple who denied Him, and the persecutor who killed Him is no different than us.
Christ died for us, even though we were still sinners! We were enemies of His Lordship; we rejected His commandments. But Christ was faithful to us all the same. He loved us, and He came for us.
His faithfulness is unmatched, unparalleled on earth. Even so, let us spend our lives gazing and chasing after the perfect faithfulness of our Savior.