By sis Tan Yan Ling
The phrase “change is the only constant” applies in many areas of our lives. However, as Jesus aptly says in Luke 5:3“no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'" Humans naturally resist change. As a result, making changes can be a battle, even if it is right and good. The difficulties can sometimes be so great that the change proponent questions whether he should bear all things and push through till the end, or simply give up and maintain status quo.
Thankfully for us, Jesus chose change when he came to earth to set up the New Covenant. He planned for it, God directed his steps (Pro 16:9), and he succeeded (Rom 8:31). He has given us an example that we can follow when we too need to drive changes in our lives.
Jesus tells us in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” At that point in time, he knew he was going to suffer and sacrifice his life to give us a new and better covenant. The deed was ultimately done, and could only be done, because he loves us. For it is written in 1 Co 13:7 that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. In John 15, Jesus commands us to abide in his love and twice he says, “you love (agape) one another”. So, let us obey and follow Jesus. Let us do the work given to us out of love.
In Luk 2:42-49, we read that Jesus already knew he had to be about His Father’s business as early as 12 years old. He had stayed back alone after the Passover feast in Jerusalem to hear the teachers and ask them questions. However, this made his parents anxious. They could not understand why he had left them and expected him to return with them.
We often learn that children should honour their parents (e.g. Exo 20:12, Exo 21:15, Eph 6:1-4) and Jesus expectedly does not sin here. He obediently went back to Nazareth and subjected himself to his parents. He waited for about 18 years before it was time to begin his ministry. He shows us that we must be patient. Doing the will of God does not justify sinning. Beware of falling from haste.
In Luk 2:52, we learn that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man after the earlier temple episode. The increase in wisdom only happened because he was continually learning and growing. When he finally began his ministry at about 30 years old, people were astonished at his knowledge and authoritative teaching (Mat 13:54, Mar 6.2, Luk 4:32). He was fit for the work. He shows us we must prepare ourselves even while we are waiting.
Jesus was not wishy-washy. When the time was ripe, he faced up to and did what was needed. In Luk 4:16-21, he publicly read Isa 61:1-2 and declared to the people of Nazareth the fulfilment of the prophecy that day, much to their contempt. He went to the temple in Jerusalem and cleansed it spectacularly at least twice (Joh 2:15-16 and Mat 21:12-13). The Pharisees wanted to kill him. He was doing very unpopular things, but he did them nonetheless when they were necessary. He teaches us that we really need to just do it, period.
Persistence Jesus did not stop at one or two attempts to teach the people. The four gospel accounts tell us that Jesus travelled far and wide, performing many miracles and teaching everywhere and almost all the time. It is said in Mar 6:31, “they did not even have time to eat.” He exemplifies persistence and shows us we must not be slothful in our work.
The gospel accounts record Jesus praying at least 25 times in various scenarios; he even prayed about doing the Father’s will (Mat 26:36-44). Prayer is how we communicate with God, and we are told to pray without ceasing (1 Th 5:17). We know we can do all things through God who gives us strength (Phil 4:13). So, let us follow Jesus’ example and always pray to our almighty God.
Jesus did not do it alone. He taught many people, and even identified and sent 12 apostles and 70 disciples to spread the gospel beyond where he was located (Mat 10:1, Luk 10:1). He gave us the example to find support and spread the work.
Conclusion God will not give us what we cannot handle (1 Co 10:13). If the task to drive changes is set upon us, then let us learn from Jesus to do it out of love and with patience, preparedness, pluck, persistence, prayers and partners. We make plans to do God's work, and God will direct our paths (Pro 16:9). If it is the will of God, we will succeed. For if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)