Editor’s Note: Below is a cleaned-up and enriched excerpt of my notes from the “phone-based” Sunday School lesson prepared for July 12, 2020. As we approach Election Day in the U.S., it seems to be especially timely.
Here in the U.S. as we approach an election, it is a challenging time to live in a swing state. Watching TV or browsing sites on the Internet means being saturated with political ads, whether for a candidate, party, or ballot issue. Rarely do any of these provide enough information to make an informed decision, and many of them are just emotional appeals or angry accusations. The fast-forward button on my DVR is much appreciated.
I respect the right of people to campaign for things that are important to them, though. And, even when I don’t agree with someone, I appreciate that their right to free speech enables the chance to have a dialogue (which can’t be achieved in an ad, of course, but can be vetted in conversation).
Let’s take a break from politics, though, and see what the sovereign Lord of the universe had to say about getting noticed.
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
John 14:22-24 NIV
Here, this Judas is believed to be the guy we know as “Thaddeus” in the list of disciples from Matthew and Mark. (It appears that having multiple names was relatively common in that era.) His question seems fair, and this gives Jesus an opportunity to respond with some teaching.
We could read a little bit into this and wonder if the apostles are still looking for an earthly king – one who would rule politically and/or militarily. If that was the case, when Jesus said that, 1) the world couldn’t accept, didn’t see, and didn’t know the Holy Spirit (verse 17) and, 2) the world wouldn’t see Jesus after a little while (verse 19), the apostles might have been thinking this would make it difficult for Jesus to take over and rule as a human king. (Side thought: Do you ever feel that you need to “remind” God how He should achieve His goals?)
Or, perhaps this question was more selfless. Since Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (verse 6), why wouldn’t He make that known to everyone, so that they could enjoy the same blessings as the disciples had? That would be a noble cause, and would certainly justify letting the whole world know about Jesus.
The answer (both here, and bringing in other information from the Bible) is a little complicated, but one reason is that God doesn’t have to do things the same way as human beings do. In fact, He often intentionally does something different, because He is wiser and more loving than we are, and He sees the bigger picture.
Don Merritt (another Bible-based blogger) says the following, “You will never see Jesus as a guest on The [O’Reilly] Factor or Oprah because He is not out to win the praise of men; He is doing the Father’s work of redemption.”
Unlike modern rulers, Jesus does not have to be installed on an earthly throne (or other seat of power) to become Lord. Unlike our future elected officials, He doesn’t need to go out and meet everyone so that He will be known to the people. He doesn’t have to win in the polls or at the ballot box.
In fact, Jesus was about to be raised to authority at His resurrection, and the church (His body) would spread the news about Jesus to the world. This plan was pretty much the opposite of how most people run for office today, but it was God’s way, and for God’s plan, it was the only way.
So, when the commercials and the chaos get to be too much, let’s step back and consider what people really need to learn about most. I’m not saying that your political, social, or moral position isn’t important, but all of our agendas must take a back seat to telling people about the One who has already been given authority. We can choose to make Jesus our Lord, or wait until we no longer have any choice but to do so.
- “The Counselor”, John 14:15-31, from The Life Project, July 6, 2020. https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/07/06/the-counselor-3/
- The College Press NIV Commentary – John, by Beauford H. Bryant and Mark S. Krause, pages 305-309. © 1998 College Press Publishing Co.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.