February 22, 2019
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
There is a consistent feature in our daily texts so far on this journey that I have not pointed out yet. We see it again today.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Let’s go back to the day Jesus healed the man “covered in leprosy.” At the end of that passage we read,
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16.
Still earlier, after Jesus must have healed hundreds of people into the night at the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, we see this:
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. Luke 4:42
For the longest time in my discipleship I looked at texts like these from a very functional and even utilitarian perspective. I reasoned, “If I spend adequate time with God like Jesus did, my life and ministry will be powerful like Jesus’ was.” It turns the “quiet time” into the measure of one’s faith. This makes prayer and solitude a means to an end. I think I considered it something akin to the “secret” to the life of Jesus.
My present understanding: This is pure relationship; the context for the communication of divine love. Now it doesn’t look like the “secret” to the life of Jesus but rather the “secret life” of Jesus.
Jesus invites us into this relationship and explicitly articulates what it is all about as recorded in the following text.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15
Love is the means and love is the end. This is not a “secret” technique Jesus is trying to teach us. He is revealing what a “secret life” with an unseen God looks like.
Our discipleship must become far more about the end than about the means. The biblical text makes clear that the end is love. Only when we begin to understand the end to which this all proceeds can we hope to appropriately appropriate the means.
Father God, thank you for showing us what you are looking for in a relationship with a human being through the life of your Son. Lead me in this secret life with you so my life might reveal your glory in public. In Jesus name, Amen.
What is the story of your secret life with God? What will the next chapter of that story look like?
For the Awakening,