Do you believe that being a Christian means denying yourself? While this is a basic biblical truth about discipleship, a recent survey revealed that only 36 percent of churchgoers “strongly agreed” with it. Nineteen percent actually “disagreed.” What we may choose to forget is that biblical obedience means putting God first, above our own selfish desires.
Jesus taught that to love God means to obey Him (vv. 23–24). We may think of “obey” as a cold, dutiful verb, preferring “love” which feels warm and pleasant. But our Lord wove them together. Words or feelings are meaningless without actions to back them up. Obedience is the “proof of the pudding,” as a previous generation would have said. Now we might say, “Walk the talk,” or perhaps “Keep it 100.”
As in the previous chapter (see yesterday’s devotional), Jesus warned the disciples of His imminent departure (vv. 25–27). But He wasn’t leaving them alone. He would send the Holy Spirit, who would help them remember His teachings. It’s implied that the Spirit would also help them obey those teachings. That’s good because the kind of love and obedience Jesus described is beyond human ability. He promised them the gift of His peace, a divine sense of spiritual well-being that would stand against their natural fears and anxieties.
Jesus said the disciples should not be sad about His departure, but joyful (vv. 28–31). Why? Because it would mark the completion of His redemptive mission. Although it might have felt like these events were engineered by “the prince of this world,” Satan, everything happened by the Father’s will and Jesus’ choice (v. 30). Christ’s example of love and obedience now enables our own. That is a reason to rejoice!
>> What about you? Take time to consider the spiritual truths of Christlike obedience and self-denial by meditating on John 12:23–26. Jesus used the object lesson of a seed to illustrate this important truth.
We live in a society that promotes self-care and individualism, where denying oneself is not only counterintuitive, but countercultural. Father, please help us obey you out of a genuine, faithful love for you.