Acts 1:8 (KJV)“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
The world of the Disciples had been turned upside down by His influence, teachings, and model. He had been all their Hope, their Dreams, and their Security. But – Jesus was leaving! Jesus had prepared them for such a time as this. They were ready to continue His work – the Will of the Father. They were more prepared than they knew. All they had to do was follow His model. They just needed to take one step at a time – one day at a time! What do we learn from these disciples that will help us in “such a time as this?” We must…
Jesus had given His disciples a challenging commandment just a few days before His death on Calvary. John 15:12-14 (KJV)“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
When we consider this, it doesn’t seem that this would have been much of a challenge to the disciples after Jesus ascended. In fact, we would think this would be simpler to do since they would really need one another more than ever. After all, it didn’t take long before they found themselves surrounded by persecution!
BUT, the command that Jesus gave as recorded in John 15:12-14 was an adjunct to His command to love everyone – even their enemies!
Matthew 5:43-48 (KJV) “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Emphasis Added)
Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is interesting how often we discover they are often the same – our neighbor and our enemy. Nonetheless, we are commanded to “Love” them as we would “Love” God and ourselves!
BLESSING A PERSECUTOR
Facing arrest as an Anabaptist, Dirck Willems fled for his life across a frozen lake. When his pursuer broke through the ice, Willems gave up his chance to escape by turning to save his persecutor. He was then captured, imprisoned and burned at the stake in 1569. — “The Radical Reformation: The Anabaptists”
Jesus is the “Model” of God’s unconditional love. I’ve often meditated upon the reality that God sent His Only Begotten Son into this lost and hostile world. Think about that! He didn’t send Him into a “Palace” where His Son would enjoy the best of this world. He sent Him into the womb of a humble “Peasant” who would care for and nurture His Son in the humblest of earthly conditions.
At the appropriate time, the Father placed His Son into the hands of sinful men. The Jewish leaders did not readily accept Him. Instead, they insidiously placed Jesus into the hands of a politician who pandered to the political correctness of his day who ultimately delivered Him to the Roman soldiers to torment. Nonetheless, Jesus “Loved” His enemies – even to the end! How can we not appreciate the awesomeness of our Savior when we consider His Words – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!”
John 3:16-17 (KJV)“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
COMPASSION FOR THE ENEMY
It was 1944, and Bert Frizen was an infantryman on the front lines in Europe. American forces had advanced in the face of intermittent shelling and small-arms fire throughout the morning hours, but now all was quiet. His patrol reached the edge of a wooded area with an open field before them. Unknown to the Americans, a battery of Germans waited in a hedgerow about two hundred yards across the field.
Bert was one of two scouts who moved out into the clearing. Once he was halfway across the field, the remainder of his battalion followed. Suddenly the Germans opened fire, and machine gun fire ripped into both of Bert’s legs. The American battalion withdrew into the woods for protection, while a rapid exchange of fire continued.
Bert lay helplessly in a small stream as shots volleyed overhead. There seemed to be no way out. To make matters worse, he now noticed that a German soldier was crawling toward him. Death appeared imminent; he closed his eyes and waited. To his surprise, a considerable period passed without the expected attack, so he ventured opening his eyes again. He was startled to see the German kneeling at his side, smiling. He then noticed that the shooting had stopped. Troops from both sides of the battlefield watched anxiously. Without any verbal exchange, this mysterious German reached down to lift Bert in his arms and proceeded to carry him to the safety of Bert’s comrades.
Having accomplished his self-appointed mission, and still without speaking a word, the German soldier turned and walked back across the field to his own troop. No one dared break the silence of this sacred moment. Moments later the cease-fire ended, but not before all those present had witnessed how one man risked everything for his enemy.
Bert’s life was saved through the compassion of a man whom he considered his enemy. This courageous act pictures what Jesus did for us. — Lynn McAdam, West Germany
John 15:12 (KJV) “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”