The “Second Week”: Week Twenty-Two/Session One.
Theme: Jesus as Human and Divine.
Our reading for today: John 5: 18-30.
The Jews were now not only out to expose Him; they were out to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was calling God His own Father, putting Himself on a level with God. So Jesus explained Himself at length. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what He sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes Him in everything He is doing.
I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust My decision because I’m not out to get My own way but only to carry out orders. (John 5: 18-19, 30 MsgB)
This week, we come to the conclusion of Ignatius’ “Second Week” in his Spiritual Exercises. Only ten more weeks remain in our Ignatian Adventure journey…a trek that began nearly six months ago! Last week and again this week, we are pondering the mystery of Jesus and how the Son of God was able to make the difficult choices we find Him making on a daily basis throughout His three-year ministry. This subject brings us to Ignatius’ theme of Election, or as author Kevin O’Brien (The Ignatian Adventure) defines it, “noble commitments and choices between two or more good options.”
It would be very easy for us to explain away Jesus’ amazing way of always seeming to know where God was leading Him. Many look at His divinity and say, “Of course, Jesus had no problem determining where to go or what to say because He was, without doubt, the Son of God.” And while it’s true that Jesus of Nazareth was unique in that He was, and still is, the Only Begotten Son of the Living God, we have to be very careful in the ways we ascribe His divinity to His three years of earthly ministry. As a matter of fact, one of the core truths of orthodox Christianity is the fact that Jesus was not only fully divine, but He was fully human as well.
And, as I see it, it’s in His complete humanity that Jesus was no different from you and me in the way He made His daily decisions. In other words, when it comes to Election (making the big decisions in life that all of us have to make) Jesus had the same limitations and advantages you and I have as followers of God. So this week, let’s unpack both some of those limitations and advantages that Jesus, in His humanity, lived with, so that you and I might learn a thing or two about making life’s big decisions as they come our way.
As we mentioned last week, one of the primary keys to Jesus’ life and ministry was His day-by-day deferment to the in-breaking rule and reign, the manifest power and presence of the Kingdom of God. In today’s passage (John 5) we find Jesus clearly defining for us one of the most important life lessons a follower of God can learn.
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5: 19 NIV)
Keep in mind that these are the words of Jesus of Nazareth as He is defending His day-to-day discernment process to those who are questioning His authority in doing those things that He is doing. A bit later in Jesus’ defense statement (John 5: 30) we find the Master speaking these insightful words as well…
I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust My decision because I’m not out to get My own way but only to carry out orders.
So, if you and I really want to learn from the very best on how to make major decisions in our lives, Jesus seems to be revealing the answer just about as clearly as He possibly can. First, and foremost, Jesus recognizes that God, His Father, does have an agenda, or an opinion on what’s best for each situation the Master comes in contact with. Secondly, Jesus intentionally chooses, in His humanity, to step back from personal agendas, quieting Himself so He might learn to listen to what God might be wanting to say.
Now, in all honesty, these first two steps are very difficult for many of us. Stopping our own agendas and learning to be quiet is not something the world teaches us, especially to those of us who are called to be leaders. Thus, you and I have to train ourselves to be different from the rest of the world when called to make major decisions. While others lean on their own wisdom and run quickly into their self-determined solutions, those who want to follow Christ’s example must learn to 1) Stop (what we’re doing), 2) Look (around us for God’s interests), and 3) Listen (for the direction of the Lord).
Stop. Look. Listen.
You know, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this just might work!
My prayer: Jesus, I take seriously Your self-revealing words here. Thank You for explaining this part of Your humanity so that I might better learn, in this lifetime, the secret to being one who is led by the Kingdom of God. Holy Spirit, empower me to STOP, LOOK & LISTEN before I make major decisions in my life. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what has been my life pattern when pushed into places where I need to make a major decision? Am I willing to STOP my self-directed activity long enough so that I might LOOK for where the Father is working, while I LISTEN for what He might be saying?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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