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Why Don't We Really Like It When Jesus Tells Us What to Do?
Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” - John 13:36-37, ESV
Have you ever been shocked by how readily Peter corrects and counters the words of Jesus? He calls Him "Lord," but Peter tells Jesus that He will not have to go to the cross. He tries to stop Jesus from washing his feet. Here, he now is questioning Jesus as to why Peter can't follow Him now, even though Peter has no real idea where Jesus is going.
Let's not be too quick to condemn Peter, though. We're just like him. How often to we dislike, distrust or flat out disobey what Jesus tells us to do? God asks us to tithe and we give God whatever money is left over from our bills and our spening on our personal pleasures. God asks us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy and we grumble about getting up in the morning to go to church, then we forget about God the rest of the day. God asks us to honor marriage and to protect the purity of the marriage bed, and we defile marriage with various forms of unfaithfulness and a divorce rate that is nearly as high in the church as it is in the world.
Well, perhaps you feel pretty good about how you're doing in these areas. Maybe you think, "I tithe. I honor the Lord's Day. I am faithful to me spouse. What's wrong with these other Christians?" Or perhaps, you know you're not doing well in these areas and you're thinking, "This is such a legalistic and narrow-minded and arrogant standard!" In both of these cases, have we forgotten that Jesus did indeed say, "Judge not, that you not be judged." Or have we forgotten the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector? Let's not be too quick to condemn Peter or each other!
Instead, let's take a deep breath, pray and examine our own hearts before the Lord. If we know our own hearts, can we confess to the Lord that we do indeed resist Him when He tells us what is true and what we must do? Can we confess that we often say, "Lord, but . . ."?
Why do we do this?
The reason why we as believers don't like it when Jesus tells us what to do is the same reason why non-believers deny God or deny Christ: We want to be in charge of our own lives. We want to be our own masters, and yet we confess Christ Jesus as Lord. So, an inherent conflict emerges again and again: Either Jesus will rule our lives or we will rule our own lives. It cannot be both.
I can't speak for you, but I know that I've always regretted it when I've told the Lord that I will do things my way. When I've turned aside from the way He walks and calls me to walk to go my own way, I alway end up in trouble and facing regret and shame. I need to see the root issue and confess my self-entitiled heart.
Jesus was absolutely correct in His prediction of Peter's actions. He was right when He told Peter that he could not follow Him now. Jesus is always right. That's part of why He's the Lord and we're not. So let's own up to the foolishness of our own hearts, and let's confess that to the Lord and ask for the grace to submit to His gracious Lordship.
Prayer Based on Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that You are justified in your words
and blameless in Your judgment.
Behold, I have been sinful from the very beginning of my life,
even from conception and borth, I have been wayward.
Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being,
and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with the blood of Your Son, Jesus, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence,
and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
and sinners will return to You.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
Christ has already offered the pergfect sacrifrice for my sins,
And I cannot atone for my iniquity.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Do good to Your people in Your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Your kingdom, secure in Your word and Your Son;
then will You delight in right sacrifices,
the living sacrifices of Your people's whole lives,
the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips giving thanks to Your name.
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