Years ago, when I was living on our family’s ranch south of Coronation, Alberta, my Dad and I bought some swathers at a machinery sale in the neighboring town of Consort. Swathers are a type of farm machinery that are used to cut down a crop so it can dry out before it is combined. These swathers were more than 20 feet wide so it was tricky pulling these things down a highway in a pickup truck. I was driving the lead truck and 2 of my hired men were pulling 2 other swathers with pickup trucks behind me.
Along the side of the highway in Alberta, you will often see plastic posts with reflective markers along the side of the highway to mark the edge of the pavement when there is a curve in the road. I was being very careful to pull over towards the center of the road so I didn’t hit these plastic posts with the swather I was pulling. But, unknown to me, my employees weren’t doing the same, and the swathers they pulled were clipping off the plastic posts as they drove down the highway.
Someone saw this and reported us to the RCMP and we were very quickly pulled over by a constable in a patrol car. He, of course, was not very happy, and he became even more unhappy when he discovered that one of my employees was driving with a suspended licence. This was another fact of which I was not aware. So we pulled the swathers off the highway and unhooked them, and then we drove home with no swathers, some tickets, and an employee who could not drive for another six months. On top of all that, the RCMP officer told me that I was going to have to pay to have all those posts replaced. We were a dejected and sorry bunch as we headed home that day.
And then I had to phone my Dad and tell him what happened and he wasn’t happy either. But what my Dad did do is contact a friend of his who happened to be the Minister of Transportation in Alberta at the time, and we never got a bill for the replacement of all those plastic posts my employees clipped off. Did I deserve to pay that bill? Yes, I did. I was responsible for what had happened. But I was given grace because someone in authority gave it to me.
Though we don’t think about it much, the question of authority is a key issue in nearly all matters in life. The Covid-19 pandemic is dividing families, communities and countries over who has the authority to advise me where I can go, what I can do and whether I have to wear a mask or not. It is like a civil war where different members of the same family end up on opposite sides of the authority issue.
But nowhere is the battle over authority greater than when the human heart is searching for hope. Lots of people are telling us that they have the answers for how our life can be saved from doom and gloom and elevated to become a beautiful life that blesses and encourages others. But which one of these many voices should we believe? The One that has the authority to do what they say they are going to do. That’s why the words of Jesus that we are focusing on today as we continue our Back to Basics series are so important. We want to reflect on the words of Jesus to rediscover what He says about the basics of life with Him. And the words of Jesus that we are reflecting on today are, “My Father has entrusted everything to me”.
- Jesus has the authority to give us hope & grace
These words of Jesus are recorded for us in Matthew, chapter 11, and the context is that Jesus has sent out His twelve disciples to proclaim the Good News that the Kingdom of heaven has come near, and to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy and drive out demons, because as Jesus said to them, and to us, “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Mt. 10:8).
So Jesus is alone, but He continues to travel throughout the region of Galilee and teach people about the coming of the Kingdom of God. While He is doing that, some followers of John the Baptizer come to Jesus with a message from John. John has been thrown in prison by King Herod because John had publicly rebuked Herod for divorcing his wife and marrying his brother’s wife. As John sat in jail, he had heard about all the things that his cousin Jesus was doing and he wondered if, perhaps, he was the Messiah, the special person promised by God who would come to defeat evil, overturn sin and all of its corruption and restore and renew all things. So John sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mt. 11:3)
And Jesus does not answer their question directly. Instead, He points to things that are happening as a result of His ministry: the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Mt. 11:5) In saying these words to John’s disciples, Jesus is doing two things. First, He is echoing passages in the Old Testament book of Isaiah which prophesied about the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 31:5-6, 61:1-2). Second, Jesus is saying that the evidence that shows that He fulfills those prophecies and therefore is the Messiah. Jesus then tells John’s followers, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see.” (Mt. 11:4)
You see, the evidence shows that Jesus has the authority to give life to those who are dying, to heal those who are sick, to save those who are lost, to give comfort to those who are grieving, and to restore those who are broken. And this was critically important to John at this time because His prison cell was a deep, dark pit, his life could be taken from him by Herod at any time, and eventually it was, and John was running out of hope. And he was wondering, who had the authority to extend grace to him and offer him life and love that nothing, not even death could ever take away from him? The answer to John’s question, and our, is Jesus!
Some of you are in a deep, dark pit and running out of hope like John. Maybe death has taken away someone you love and the grief you feel seems unbearable. Maybe your business has come unraveled because of Covid and you are working as hard as you can, but the bank just called and they are coming to take your assets away. Or maybe school has always been hard for you, but Covid has made it harder. And with the latest mocking you received from classmates or the latest assignment that failed, you feel like you want to quit. Who are you going to look to for hope? Will it be Jesus, or should you look for someone else?
Dear friends, Jesus has the authority to give you grace and hope. In Colossians 1, we read, Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him. (Col. 1:15-16) This passage is telling us that Jesus is not only the God-sent Messiah who came into this world and became one of us in order to save us. Jesus is also the God the Son through whom God the Father created all things. He is the author and perfector, not only of our faith, but of everything that exists, both visible and invisible. Jesus is both the Alpha, the originator of all things, and the Omega, the One who brings all things to fulfillment and completion in the divine purpose for which God intended them. As Jesus says in our words for today, My Father has entrusted everything to me. (Mt. 11:27)
- Jesus has both authority & motivation to save you
So what does this mean for us? It means that there is no problem that you could ever face in life that is too big for Jesus to handle. There is no pit that you could ever be in that is so deep that Jesus cannot pull you out of it. There is no injustice that you could ever experience that is so horrific that Jesus cannot make it right. There is no disease that you could ever suffer from that is so powerful that Jesus cannot heal it. There is no need that you could ever have that is so great that Jesus cannot fulfill it. Jesus has authority over everything from His Father and He can do it.
But will He? The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah will not only be powerful, he will also be compassionate toward those who are weak, weary, ill, suffering or in trouble of any kind. In Isaiah 35, we read, With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” (Isa. 35:3-4) We see the same power combined with compassion in Jesus, who said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30) Will Jesus save us? Of course He will. His ultimate power is combined with unconditional love.
- Jesus has the wisdom to bring about the right solution
But here’s the thing, and this is the part that is often really hard for us, at least, it is really hard for me: If we are going to trust Jesus with the problem, then we also need to trust Him with the solution. And what we broken, double-minded human beings tend to do is trust Jesus conditionally. Though we don’t verbalize it, we, in effect, say to Jesus, “I will trust you with my problem, on the condition that you give me the solution that I want.” And then, when Jesus’ solution is different from ours, we get mad at Him because He didn’t meet our expectations. So who do we really think is God when we trust Jesus conditionally? Our actions show that we think that we are God when we trust Jesus conditionally.
Remember that God the Father has entrusted everything to Jesus. That means that Jesus not only has the power to deal with our problems, He also has the wisdom to bring about the right solution. And the right solution for now might be that we don’t get what we want so that we grow closer and more reliant on Jesus in this life which will bring about a much better result in the life to come.
You see, the goal is not for us to be comfortable. The goal is to bring more and more people into God’s Kingdom where they have a loving relationship with the living God. And though God does not cause suffering and it was not His choice that it exists in this world, God does allow suffering to happen because He can bring something good out of it. First of all, there is no suffering that we can experience in this world that will pull us away from Jesus. We are never in any danger of losing the new identity that Jesus gives us as God’s beloved, forgiven children, or the new life that He gives which begins now and will blossom into a greater fullness in the new heaven and earth to come. But in the hands of a caring and compassionate Savior, suffering can give us a platform to point others to Jesus, in the hope that they too will enter the Kingdom of God by trusting in Him.
On March 3, 2005, Peter Schiemann, along with 3 other RCMP officers, were shot and killed near Mayerthorpe, Alberta. In a prior conversation with his dad, Don Schiemann, a Lutheran pastor, Peter told his dad not to worry if he was killed on the job, “I’ll be with Jesus in heaven.” That message was broadcast on news services all across Canada. And because of Peter’s tragic death, his Dad was given the opportunity to share the sure and certain promise of resurrection life that Jesus gives to all who look to Him in faith. God did not want Peter to die, but God was able to use that event to draw others closer to Jesus so they could enjoy life forever in God’s Kingdom, just like Peter.
And God can do the same thing in your life. Nobody likes to suffer, but when you come out the other side, you will be able to say to someone who is in the pit that you just came out of, “I understand what things are like for you, and here is how Jesus carried me through my difficult experience.” And your words will resonate with that person in a way that the words of someone else who has not suffered what you have will not. You can be a piece of living evidence that other people can see and know that Jesus has the authority to heal, save, restore and forgive.
Conclusion: So the challenge that I am setting before you today has three parts. First, trust Jesus unconditionally. The Father has entrusted everything to Him and He is a kind and compassionate Savior. So you can trust Jesus both with your problems and the solutions to those problems. Second, if you have not already done this, take some time to review your life and identify some key times when Jesus helped you. And then, third, keep Seeking the Kingdom, that is, keep watching for situations of human need around you, and then bring Jesus into those interactions by telling how Jesus helped you through your difficult time. You have the authority to tell others your story, and your story might be the catalyst for helping one person move one step closer to Jesus. And remember, the Father has entrusted everything to Jesus. Amen.