“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…” –Phil. 3:10 (NKJV)
When Jesus was in Gethsemane he asked Peter, John, and James, his three closest disciples–and friends–to watch and wait with him. His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38) and no doubt, in his humanity, he deeply desired the companionship and comfort of those closest to him. But when his heart most longed for their fellowship …
They fell asleep.
Despite Peter’s earlier assertion that “even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matt.26:33), he couldn’t manage to watch and pray with Jesus for a single hour. And, of course, we know his “devotion” went downhill from there.
Yet weeks later Peter was boldly proclaiming the gospel to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen–often at great personal cost. And years later, Peter did indeed give his life for the sake of the One he promised to “never” disown.
What changed? What happened to take Peter’s bold declarations and empty vows beyond his romanticized notions of extreme devotion?
The power of the resurrection.
The order of the verse in Philippians has always intrigued me. That we may know him–in the power of the resurrection, and in the fellowship of his suffering. It always seemed like it should be the other way around. After all, Jesus suffered, then he was resurrected.
But it doesn’t work that way for us. If we ‘try’–out of good intentions, religious duty, or moral obligation–to “sacrifice” ourselves for the sake of the kingdom, at best, we’ll find ourselves “falling asleep” on the job.
At worst … well … use your imagination. (Sadly many of us don’t have to use our imaginations because we’ve seen the results one time too many.)
That’s why to know him — truly know him — we must experience the power of his resurrection.
We need to know …
- There is nothing we can add to our salvation and nothing we can take away from it
- While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
- Even when we were dead in our transgressions, he made us alive together with Christ
- It’s by grace we’ve been saved–through faith–not by works lest any man should boast
- Nothing–absolutely nothing–can separate us from his love
It’s finished, beloved. We are righteous because of Jesus–not because of what we do, or don’t do. Nothing will ever change his thoughts toward you, or his opinion of you. Nothing you do will ever make him love you more–or less.
He just loves you–right here, right now, just as you are–he just loves you.
But when you get that–really GET it–it does something inside of you. It ignites a holy passion. It releases a holy boldness. It stirs an insatiable longing to be where he is and do what he does.
Then you don’t have to watch and wait with him–you get to watch and wait with him. You get to share in the fellowship of his suffering … and in the longings of his heart.
So that’s my cry … that I may know him. That I may know, that I know, that I know, the power of the resurrection–that I might be granted the unspeakable privilege and deep intimacy of sharing in his suffering …
Without falling asleep.
Lord, let that be our cry–that we may know you. We want to be where you are and do what you do, but only your friends know what you are doing. As we approach Resurrection Sunday, let us experience–again–the power of the resurrection. And from that amazing place of being made alive in you, may we share your heart at ever deepening levels. ~ Amen.