Leaders who showed grace, self-control, and sacrifice.
Presidents, kings, religious leaders, teachers, scientists, etc.
I see the world comparing all of these with Jesus, which is difficult because Jesus did not write books, lead armies, or participate in elections or lawmaking politics.
1. A Good Teacher of Morality - not the only teacher though
2. Our sacrificial lamb - Not the only person who died for another.
Everyone has their favorite take on the Savior.
We have 4 Gospels - 4 Perspectives of Jesus
Matthew - Good Teacher with Teaching Expounded
Mark - The Deeds of Jesus showing us what He can do
Luke - The Kingdom opened to the outcasts
John gives us something else entirely.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
John claims that Jesus was God Himself, come in the flesh.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
It is an ignorant and arrogant person that pretends they will live forever. Probably a third of all movie and story villains get into their villainy with the idea that they are trying to live forever, even if it is at the expense of others (which it always is).
Probably a third of all movie and story villains get into their villainy with the idea that they are trying to live forever, even if it is at the expense of others (which it always is).
This desire to live forever - even for the sake of taking care of others, always turns them into tyrants, so often that I would claim it should be a rule that any leader that cannot relinquish their leadership is not a good leader and cannot truly lead.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunesa to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." -
The Noble Dictator - Stay with me and do what I say or else God will come and cast you into the fire. I am your connection to God and to life here in this world. You cannot live without me.
Like this statue of Caesar, with the little child clinging to him for dear life... These words paint a picture that we are nothing without Jesus... that we have no worth apart from Him.
Even the bit about a true leader will lay down his life for his friends and if you do what I say I will call you my friends... that could easily be used as a political sales pitch.
To those whose parents were shunned from church for being pregnant out of wedlock, who grew up in homes of abuse and addiction, and who may face the questions of when they will get paid again so that they can buy a pack of hot dogs to feed their own children... all the while living within a couple blocks of three different churches who cannot get along with one another, and who have never learned their name - to those, this passage may be ridiculous and offensive.
"No, I am the vine, and my own children are the branches." They might say. "And my duty is to latch onto any plant and climb as high as I can so that my children have some hope of bearing fruit and succeeding, and maybe someday escaping this life we have - for no one loves my children as much as I do." - Thus says the great ruler Mom and Dad whose word is law, and don't you dare try to come between them and their children.
Then, one day, our dreams of immortality fall away, and in a last minute panic, we pull aside our oldest or most responsible child or servant and we give them the bad news.
"I won't be here forever, and the time is coming soon that you will have to step up into my role. I know you've always thought it was a place of honor and power, but really it is a place of giving until it hurts and then giving more, and being alone, for no one will ever understand the sacrifices you will have to make. I'm appointing you God in my place. Don't mess it up."
And if we're honest, wasn't that a little bit of how we became leaders ourselves? We thought it would be fun, and discovered very quickly that it is a battle.
18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’
All of this teaching can be, and has been, adopted, adapted, and twisted by worldly, unfaithful leaders and leadership institutions trying to grow their own loyalty base.
So what makes Jesus any any different?
26 On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
Jesus lived what he taught. He did not just talk about being willing to die for the disciples, or just talk about loving His enemies - He did it. He did not keep His faith in God to Himself, He shared it. And when the day came for Him to return to heaven after the resurrection - He showed that as much as He loved us, He loved God more, and was willing to entrust us into the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
He did not just talk about being willing to die for the disciples, or just talk about loving His enemies - He did it. He did not keep His faith in God to Himself, He shared it. And when the day came for Him to return to heaven after the resurrection - He showed that as much as He loved us, He loved God more, and was willing to entrust us into the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
That connection he spoke about was real... not just inspiring words. Here is a good example of how He was different from even some of the best leaders of the day.
He inspired people, brought them to repentance and a return to God, and he trained up disciples - not trying to do it all himself. Perhaps most important of all, when Jesus arrived on the scene, John was not too proud to turn over all of his followers to Jesus. He was one of the best examples we have of humble leadership.
He probably belonged to a group of Jews called the Essenes, who lived out in the wilderness in small communities, and who dedicated their lives to living pure and holy until the Messiah came. John was the only one who ventured out to invite others into their community. Similarly to groups like the Amish, they would welcome you to church with them, but they were not going to go out of their way to invite you in. What am I saying, that probably describes the majority of churches today.
John was the only one willing to go out and share the life he had been raised up in, and the only one making disciples to further the work of God's kingdom. And today, his is the only name of the group that we know. They didn't even make it into the gospels because they weren't interested in changing the world. They just wanted to be saved themselves.
After John died, he could no longer help his disciples, and so his ministry died with him. I'm sure he would have helped in some way if he could, but he was gone from this world and had no way of doing anything more.
For Jesus, on the other hand, death was only the beginning of His work. He affected far more people after He died, and after He rose from the dead, and even more after He ascended to heaven, than He ever did while He walked the earth. His Spirit was scattered to nearly 10,000 people within the first few weeks after He sent it down at Pentecost - giving 10,000 people the same kind of power He had on earth. And that number is still growing today. The power not only to tell people about Jesus, but to show people Jesus. Jesus not only lived out faith Himself, He continues to live it out in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we allow ourselves to be answers to prayer, Jesus is showing His faithfulness through us.
In order to do this though, to lead with the faithfulness, the incarnation of Jesus, we have got to be willing to make ourselves available to Him.
If we put all the problems our our world, our nation, and or even if we just focused on our city, and broke it up into puzzle pieces, none of us would know what all the pieces were, or how to put them together to make a whole community.
However, I think I know what one of the corner pieces would be: the kind of piece that you can begin to reconstruct the puzzle from.
People today do not follow God because they do not believe in God, and they do not believe in God because they have not seen any proof.
John reminds us that you and I are to be the proof that Jesus is God, because as we love the world the way God does, the world will recognize Jesus in us and know that He lives... and they will then see that of all the great leaders in the world who have influenced us, Jesus is the only one who is still with us, and the only one who has the power and desire to always be with us.