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Just Thinking

I Was Just Thinking … About Jesus’ Perseverance

Jesus taught that the those who wanted to follow him would need to persevere to the end (Matthew 24:3). So we began our series about persevering in faith by acknowledging that sometimes we feel like giving up. When the pressure seems so unbearable that we’re ready to cave in, we need to fine tune our faith by remembering that God works to preserve his people. When we entrust our future to the God who sustained Jesus in the garden and raised him from the tomb, we are trusting that he will enable us to persevere also, to endure, especially when the future seems bleak. The promises we considered in this series are part of how God keeps us enduring to the end. But that’s not all.

Having considered some of the promises that remind us of the benefits of perseverance and of God’s involvement in sustaining us in times of trial, it’s important to remember that not only does Jesus guarantee the promises, he himself promises to be with us in our struggles. Jesus endured as he relied on the promises Yahweh made to the Israelites. “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you—yes, I help you—yes, I uphold you with my righteous right hand!” (Isaiah 41:10).

So, “just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end” (John 13:1). Jesus was in the process of enduring. Then he prays, “Righteous Father, even if the world does not know you, I know you, and these men know that you sent me.  I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them” (John 17:25–26).

Eventually, when he commissioned the apostles, and us, he repeated his promise to be with us so that we will be confident of success. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19).

Luke tells us that Paul experienced the fulfillment of this promise when he proclaimed the gospel in Corinth: “The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9). Therefore he was eventually able to write these encouraging words to the Corinthian believers: “He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8).

Later, he wrote to the church in Rome that regardless of “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword … in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!” (Romans 8:37). Even when some of his associates abandoned him during his later imprisonment in Rome, he encouraged young Timothy by telling him that Jesus had remained faithful to him, helping him to persevere to the end: “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the nations to hear. And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth!” (2 Timothy 4:17).

We don’t know for sure how Paul’s life ended, nor how our own lives will end. But we have a savior who set an example for us by persevering in faith. So, now his grace is sufficient for us as he strengthens us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

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