Summary: Looking to Jesus as an example of how to live the abundant Christian life.
INTRODUCTION: I would like to begin today by asking you a question. Are you living or existing? You see there is a difference. The vast majority of people on earth today are existing. They are waking up in the morning, going to work or school, keeping house, whatever the case may be. They are going about their business but they have no real sense of purpose in their lives. Their happiness and fulfilment in life depends largely on their cirumstances or their achievements. If they were completely honest with themselves they would have to admit that inside they are empty. That is existing. Christ came however that we might have life and have it more abundant. If we are going to experience this kind of real life we must look to Jesus the source of life.
In John 17 Jesus is at the end of his life. He is facing the cross. He uttered these words either on his way to Gethsemene or in the upper room. This chapter is known as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. In this first verse Jesus begins to look to God as he faces his hour of darkness. In this text we see how Jesus lived.
I asked the question, "are you living or just existing?" The answer to that question can be determined by three questions based on our text.
I. ARE YOU LIVING WITH A DEPENDENCE ON THE FATHER
As Jesus entered his hour of trial the bible says, "He lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said, "Father". Jesus didn't look at his outward circumstances and try to figure a way out. He didn't even look inward for answers, even though he was the Son of God. He looked upward to Heaven, to the one He knew as His Father.
Jesus lived with complete dependence, not on his own person, or his own humanity, but complete trust and dependence on the Father.
One of the most eye opening verses I have ever read is John 5:30. There Jesus says, "I can of myself do nothing". Every person Jesus ever healed when he was on the earth, every sermon he ever preached, every temptation he ever overcame, he did it not by trusting in who he was as the Son of God, but by depending on the Fathers strength and guidance.
If Jesus who is God's Son could "Of himself do nothing" how much more can we of ourselves do nothing". The problem with many Christians today and churches is that we are depending primarily on our own natural abiblities, our reasoning abilities, our talents, our education, our financial resources to accomplish God's work. And we of ourselves are doing nothing. We are existing by and large completely in the natural. But when we live with this dependence upon God that Jesus lived with, the natural begins to give way to the supernatural and God begins to work.
I read all of the texts where the bible says Jesus "lifted up his eyes". One time he lifted up his eyes to God and he stuck his fingers in a deaf mans ears and the man received his hearing. On another occassion he lifted up his eyes in dependence upon God and thanked God and called Lazarus forth from the grave. On another occassion he lifted up his eyes to God and took two small fishes and five loaves and fed thousands of people.
The life that is lived in dependence upon God experiences the supernatural power of God. Can you say this about your life. I'm not asking if you have healed anyone lately or turned water into wine. I am asking if you can look at your life and say God gave me victory over this temptation, Only God could have done it, God had his hand upon me and touched the lives of others and I know it was God that did it. Can we say this about our church.
We forfeit God's power when we substitute dependence upon Him with dependence upon ourselves, other people, or other resources. One of the Popes invited a theologian to the Vatican. Sitting amongst all the treasures of the church the Pope said, "the church can no longer say silver and gold have I none". To that the theologian replied sadly, "yes but neither can she say in the name of Jesus of Nazereth rise and walk."
We must take our eyes off of the natural, off of that which can be seen, and lift our eyes in faith to Heaven.
Jesus lived with a dependence upon the Father. The second question we might ask to ascertain whether or not we are Living is:
II. DO YOU LIVE WITH A SENSE OF DIVINE DESTINY
Jesus said, "the hour is come". This is an interesting phrase that Jesus uses in this gospel. At the beginning of his ministry at a wedding feast his mother wanted him to show himself as the Messiah and he said,"my hour has not yet come". On another occassion his brothers urged him to go to the feast of tabernacles if he was really who he thought he was and show himself as messiah. He said then, "my time is not yet come." What was Jesus' time, his hour? It was his hour to be glorified and to glorify God. What Mary and Jesus' brothers didn't know was that Jesus would be glorified and would glorify God through a bloody cross and the resurrection. But Jesus knew. He knew that he had come for the purpose of dying for the sins of the world. He had a sense of purpose of destiny, and everything that he did and said led to that moment, that hour. And now the hour had come. Jesus' life was one of direction, and purpose, and divine destiny.