When Jesus looked out over the huge crowd of enthusiastic followers during the Passover feast in Jerusalem, He could have been extremely satisfied with His strategy in mass evangelism and the overall success of His ministry. After all, thousands of Jews believed in His name and publicly testified to the authenticity of His miracles.
But Jesus was not at all taken by their applause, and He was not impressed by their many words of appreciation. He looked beyond their cheers for Him to the motivation of their hearts. What He discovered there caused Him to make one of the most serious decisions for the future direction of His ministry: “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men” (John 2:24). He clearly discerned that the majority of His disciples followed Him only for personal blessings such as healing, free food or even forgiveness of sin . . . whatever they could get out of Him. But these were not the qualifications He was looking for in people to entrust with the responsibility of heralding God’s kingdom.
Jesus was searching for people who would love and follow Him for His sake, not their own. Out of the entire multitude, He only found 11 who had that kind of heart, and He totally committed Himself to them. He allowed them to observe and share His life, taught them privately and revealed God’s plans to them. No, they weren’t ready to be apostles yet, and they were still going to make a lot of mistakes, but none of these things seemed a major problem in God’s mind. You see, the greatest obstacle for God to entrust Himself to us is our hidden self-love, in even the most spiritual things as well as in our service for Him.
If we look close enough, we will discover that 99.9 percent of our Christianity today is based on what we can get out of it: a better family life, good kids, getting out of trouble, restored health, a wholesome lifestyle, a brighter future, security, forgiveness of sin, and finally heaven and the rewards to follow.
The question is this: Where are we, and what is our heart’s motivation, in the midst of this modern interpretation of discipleship? God is not after the majority of 99.9 percent, but after a minority who actually follow Christ for His sake. He will commit Himself to a few people who are totally committed to Him for the purpose of loving Him and His Son. Nothing else matters to these people. Whether they have much or little in this world, they have no other agenda.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.
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