“His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.’” (John 16:29-30)
Scripture Reading – Luke 18:9-17
The Upper Room discourse of Jesus in John 13-17 is packed full of deep truths that require lots of time to think and pray through in order to understand. There were no short-cuts in learning who Jesus was and what His mission was about. That’s why the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples. Without the Spirit, they as well as us, would not be able to fully understand the truths about Jesus. It appeared that the more Jesus taught, the more uneasy the disciples became, but they didn’t want to seem as though they didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them. Here we see them proudly saying, “At last. Now we got it!” Was this really the great turning point in the disciples’ understanding? Jesus knew it wasn’t possible without the Spirit, which hadn’t yet been given. Without the Spirit, the disciples couldn’t fully understand the truth about Christ, but they gave the appearance of understanding, when in reality they were confused.
The disciples’ statement here echoes many of the proud pronouncements of Peter. If you remember, Peter’s pride was on display for all to see on many occasions throughout the gospels. Pride continues to be an obstacle, preventing us from being shaped into Christ’s image and being used by God to spread the gospel. Perhaps the most important quality of a disciple is humility. Humility starts with the understanding of the gospel. It says that there is nothing that I can do to save myself; God did it all. It says, the Father sent the Son, and the Son paid our debt of sin. It was pride that led to our fall into sin through Adam and Eve in the first place, but humility opens us up to receive the salvation that was won for us through Christ. It admits that we were in a hopeless position because of our sin, yet Jesus made a way for us to come back to the Father. Accepting the gospel always takes an attitude of humility, and abiding in Christ requires us to have on-going humility. It’s pride that raises obstacles for us to bear fruit for Christ, because our pride tempts us to steal the glory of God for ourselves.
The disciples should have humbled themselves before Christ and said: “We believe. Help our unbelief.” Jesus already knew the questions in their minds. He knew their doubts. In place of humility, the disciples became prideful because they didn’t want to appear weak and ignorant. Peter was the known for covering up his own inadequacies with audacious pronouncements. His attitude spread to the other disciples as well. They, too, were hiding their inadequacies from one another and the Lord. That’s what sin does: it hides. After the Fall, Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden; they covered up their nakedness with leaves. While we may not be physically hiding from God, we can try to cover-up our sin with leaves of self-righteousness and pride. We can hide our mistakes from others, diverting our responsibility.
A true disciple is one that knows his sin is forgiven, and based on that forgiveness, they will humble themselves before others and God. They don’t blame others or their situation for the sins that they commit.They take full responsibility for their sins and confess them to God and to one another. In doing so, they are proclaiming the gospel. They are saying that it is not because of my self-righteousness that I am restored to the Father, but rather because God replaced my leaves of self-righteousness with the clothes of holiness through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. God is always glorified when we confess our sins and declare that the gospel is enough. What sins do you need to confess to God today?