John 13:20 “I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
Jesus said some things in the Upper Room Discourse that we tend to choke on. This is one, and then there is what He said just a little later: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) We choke because they seem to be too good to be true, and then they also don’t seem to be born out in our experience. At times we are left with the same prayer the disciples expressed to Jesus: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5) They said it initially when He told them just how much they needed to forgive one another, but it is a natural response to much of what Jesus taught, because He was speaking to how we were created to be, rather than the image that we have accepted of ourselves and the world we live in. Paul was referring to that factor when he chastened the Corinthian believers, saying they were acting like “mere men.” (1 Corinthians 3:4) The thing is, when we are abiding in Christ by faith, we are indeed supernatural beings. Down through the centuries there have been believers who have astounded those around them by living and acting as Christ’s agents indeed. When we fail to do that, it isn’t because we aren’t “living up to our potential,” it’s because we aren’t living up to Christ’s potential, abiding in Him and letting Him abide in us. Any time we aren’t seeing Jesus’ words fulfilled in and through us, we need to get further into Him, releasing more of ourselves to Him.
Ministering in Japan, this verse has long been an encouragement, a hope, and a frustration to me. I have had assurance that I was sent by God, and people have seemed to accept me graciously, yet they draw back from acknowledging their own need for a Savior, accepting Christ into their hearts. Part of that may be their level of acceptance of me. From childhood it has been a raw spot with me that I am hardly ever accepted as Japanese, simply because I am Caucasian. I have been shocked and hurt when even close friends have said and done things that showed they expected me to be different because of my ethnicity. However, what Jesus is talking about here isn’t limited to that. It is when people accept me as someone sent by God that they accept Christ and the Father. They don’t need to accept me as Japanese, they just need to accept me as Christ’s representative. I need to switch my focus from myself to Christ. This is something I tell others to do all the time, yet I need to do it better myself! My goal isn’t people accepting me, it’s people accepting Christ. I have known this, but I need to grow in living it out.
Father, thank You for this powerful Word. Help me not take it casually, but allow it to work in me and through me so that I may be Your agent indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!