In the late ‘90s I went to my senior pastor one day and declared to him that I was going to commence a lifetime fast until I saw breakthrough. I was really hoping that he would talk me out of it, but his only words of comfort were to be careful. So now that I had committed to this, I had to carry it through. The first day was easy and the second day I was getting hungry, but by the third day I really thought I was going to die. I came home from work one night and fell on the couch and called my wife and said, “I feel so hungry and so sick that I really feel like I could die.” My wife gave me two options: break the fast and eat, or die, but if I chose the latter option, then to do it quietly. She left the room laughing, and I had to make a decision, as I was miserable. I chose to break the fast and went to the fridge and ate an entire packet of sausages and a whole loaf of bread. I really thought I was going to die after that; I felt so much worse.
No matter how much we do in works, I have found that it is never enough. You read three chapters of the Bible and the enemy comes along and says, “If you had read six chapters, you would have gotten a breakthrough.” You pray for 60 minutes and that same voice says, “Maybe you should have prayed for two hours and you might have had your breakthrough.” You fast for 21 days, and that condemning voice of the accuser whispers in your ear, “Maybe a back-to-back, 21-day fast would have gotten you what you need.”
Often we do works-oriented things out of a place of desperation to see God move or to please Him. We believe that the things that we do will cause God to love us more, and the supernatural will flow. This mentality leaves us in a position of working for God’s love as opposed to working from God’s love. I spent many years working hard for His love because of the lack of revelation on just how much He already loved me and liked me. Many Christians may know that God loves them, but when you question them, they really have no revelation on just how much God also likes them. Though they know in their heads that God loves them, they may also believe the lie that God just tolerates them. God likes to hang out with us and to do the things that we like to do.
When we have the revelation of His love, grace, and goodness, then we really begin to understand that He can’t love us any more than He already does. The apostles Peter and John are two of my favorite people in the Bible. It appears that they were wired totally differently.
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved (John 13:23).
The Bible calls John in this passage “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” so we could take from that that Jesus loved John the most. It’s interesting that this phrase only appears in the Gospel of John, of which John is the author.
So what exactly was John doing? We know without question that Jesus loved all the disciples intensely, but I believe that John had a revelation that maybe the other disciples did not have. John knew that he was loved. Could it be that John was the disciple who most knew how to practice enjoying the presence of Jesus and His love?
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus made a statement that must have been hard for the disciples to take. He told them they would all fail Him and they would all fall away from Him.
I am sure they were all shocked because without question, they all loved Jesus so much. When Jesus said this, Peter took Jesus aside and essentially agreed with Jesus that the rest of the disciples would probably fail Him, but “not me,” he said to Jesus.
Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise (Mark 14:29-31).
The setting in John 13:23 was during the Last Supper. We see the disciples at the table with the Lord, including the two I have mentioned, Peter and John.
At the table we could say that there were two kinds of Christians represented. One was represented by Peter, whose name means “stone” or “rock,” and if we break that down further, means “law.” Peter represents the believers who declare their love for the Lord, just as we all do. John’s name means “beloved,” “loved one,” or broken down further, means “grace.” Now John leaning on the breast of Jesus is a picture of depending on the Lord’s love for him; he represents every believer who declares the Lord’s love for them. We could say that one represents Christians under the law, and the other represents Christians under grace.
But the one who was always declaring how much he loved Jesus, before the night was out, was found denying Him three times, while the one who was dependent on the Lord’s love for him was there to minister to Jesus at the time of His greatest need.
Jesus knew that each of the disciples would fail Him. But Peter’s dependence on his love for Jesus instead of a solid foundation of Jesus’ love for him actually caused him to fail Jesus in His time of need.
Jesus said that each of them would fail Him. John also failed Jesus that night, but because his foundation of their relationship was first on how much Jesus loved him, even when he failed Him in the garden, he was able to step over the failure to be at the feet of Jesus at the time of His need.
John was the only disciple of the twelve who was at the cross with Jesus. The others were alone, feeling bad, and probably drowning in condemnation. While Peter was feeling unworthy and drowning in condemnation, John was at the foot of the cross because he clearly understood that his relationship with Jesus was not based on how much he loved Jesus but how much Jesus loved him.
In my years of ministry, I have met many people who have asked me, “Chris, I love God so much, yet why do I fail to see the power of God displayed through my life?” I love to look into their eyes and ask if they know how much they are loved. Very few look me back in my eyes and tell me how much they are loved. Many look away or look down or divert the subject. We need a greater revelation of the Father’s love toward us.
I so believe in loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, but I can’t help but fall in love when I see just how much I am first loved. My love is the byproduct of knowing how much I am loved.
In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us.... We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:10,19).
God is no comparison to your earthly father. Your own father may have rejected you, but your heavenly Father accepts and loves you perfectly. The Son of God, who loves you, gave Himself for you as if you were the only person who ever lived.
God does not love you for what you do. God does not love you for your service. God loves you because that is what He does; He is a God of love. When you live from the foundation of how much you are loved and accepted, and that God is your loving Father, you will find yourself loving God back with all your heart, soul, and mind. The beginnings of the foundations will be set correctly where miracles will flow because of your identity of Him in you and you in Him.