In early January of this year, I had a night of fellowship with sisters in Christ, followed by a worship time. One song that was mentioned (though not enough people knew it for us to sing it) reminded me of one of my least favorite Christian songs ever. I love worshipping Jesus and singing to Him and for Him, but I cannot stand that song. The chorus has multiple phrases of, “Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Yes, yes, Lord.” From memory, I could not tell you what the song was about or any of the other verses. But since I was reminded of that song, the chorus continued to play through my head as I drove home that night.
As I drove home, I turned off the radio, started praying, and told God how grateful I was for the friends He has given me and how much I love Him. But even while I prayed, I felt like my prayer was empty, like my words of love and adoration had no depth. In that emptiness, God said to me, Do you love Me? I replied, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He then said, Feed my sheep. He asked again, Do you love Me? I said again, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And He said, Feed my sheep. This dialogue was repeated once more, but by the end, I was crying and broken, because I realized that I was missing a key reply to what Jesus said; a reply that echoed through my least favorite Christian song ever. When Jesus said, Feed My sheep, I gave no reply; I only had thoughts of my weaknesses and inefficiency running through my mind. But in my brokenness and through my tears, I recognized the importance of saying, “Yes, Lord.” Those simple words echo love, belief, and a commitment to follow the King. So, Jesus’ Words came to me again, Do you love Me? I replied, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And He said for the final time, Feed My sheep, to which I replied, “Yes, Lord.” (John 21:15-17)
When I said, “Yes, Lord,” such a calm came over me. In those words, I felt God’s blessing and approval, and I was reminded of all the times in the Bible when true faith and true love were shown in simple words of agreement. When Mary was told she would carry the Son of God, she ultimately replied, Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38) When God called out to the child, Samuel, the boy ultimately replied, Speak, for Your servant hears. (1 Samuel 3:10) And when a father was desperate, praying for Jesus to perform a miracle for his son, he said to Jesus, I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
There were also times in the Gospels when Jesus asked people to follow Him, or some people sought to follow Him, but they wanted to do something first or they wanted to cling more tightly to something they possessed. Jesus was not satisfied with their excuses, but called them out: And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto [Jesus], “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said unto him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said unto another, “Follow Me.” But the man replied, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said unto him, “Let the dead bury their dead, but go you and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” And Jesus said unto him, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)
For years, I had viewed that passage in Luke as one of the harshest in scripture. How could Jesus ask so much of His followers? Surely, He asked too much. But the truth is that Jesus did not ask more than what He was willing to give, or more than what He did give. Jesus said to His disciples, Take up your cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24). He had the authority and right to say that because He was God, and along with being God, He also would be a living sacrifice; He knew the things He would suffer for His children. Jesus led the way and provided the way to His kingdom, showing the greatest example of love and obedience the world has ever seen, and that example was His life laid down for the sins of the world. Yes, it may seem impossible or unfair when Jesus asks us to lay down all that we are and all that we possess, and not just the parts we are comfortable with letting Him have; but He wants all of us, because He wants us to have all of Him, not just the little bit that fits inside the box we built for Him, where none of our most precious things or dreams are touched by His loving hand. What is unfair in this whole situation is not that we have to give something up, but that God would have to give Himself up for us. It is a small thing for us to give Him what is already His in return for Him giving us all that we have; looking at it that way, it makes no logical sense to hold anything back from God. When we do hold onto what we want or think we need, and don’t entrust it to our Heavenly Father, that thing we cling to becomes a burden or a curse to us. If a parent holds fast to their children, not trusting that God knows best for them and will direct them when they are not there, they find that their children will grow to resent them and the God they claim to follow. The only way to gain something, to have anything good, is to give it all up to Jesus; let Him bless it, let Him use it, let Him do what He wills. Does that sound like a harsh sentiment? Not when you consider that our Heavenly Father knows our needs, provides, heals, protects; He is way better to His children than any earthly father could ever hope to be.
So, though Luke 9 seems harsh, it illustrates the truth that loving God is a sacrifice. But when we compare scripture with scripture, the truth also comes out that what we give up for Christ was not ours to begin with. Every good and perfect thing comes from God (James 1:17), and those things that detract from our relationship with Christ are not worthy of our affections or our sorrow. Another important truth to remember is that loving and obeying God brings blessings and eternal life. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31, Matthew 19:29-30, Luke 18:29-30)
As I think about the value of saying “Yes, Lord,” I am reminded of The Princess Bride. In the beginning of the story, Wesley was a servant to Buttercup. Whenever she would ask him to do something, he replied with, “As you wish.” No matter how mundane the task, he always had the same reply. But when he was saying, “As you wish,” what he really meant was, “I love you.” That is the kind of relationship I want with Jesus. Instead of asking so many questions and overthinking His commands, I want to simply say, “Yes, Lord” or “As You wish.” Jesus deserves nothing less than I all that I am and all that I have. Nothing I own and no one I love is worth more than Jesus Christ and His calling on my life.
The mundane of this earthly life will one day be swallowed up into eternity, but those things which we have done for Christ, in His name, will still remain and testify to Christ and to the world that we were, and are, sons and daughters of the living God. So, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven… Not my will, but Thine, be done… Let it be according to Your Word… Yes, Lord … As You wish… Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.”
Then he will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.