February 3, 2020 | By Jay Ashbaucher
Sometimes, in honest moments, we don’t like who we are. We don’t like how we act or react to others in certain situations, but we can’t help it, it just comes out. Seeing the negative and imperfect side of who we are can lead us to feelings of being no good, a loss of self-worth, aloneness, or depression. Feelings like that can cause us to spiral down into a pit we can’t get out of. We need to know and experience someone’s love and acceptance. Who is better to meet that need than Jesus who gives perfect love and acceptance to all who seek his help?
The people closest to him during his life on earth were no different from us. They exhibited their imperfections and negative side, and yet, he loved them. Seeing their potential, he patiently helped them to become the good persons he believed they could be. When we know and feel we are loved and accepted, we are empowered to want to do what it takes to change. Reading the Bible gives us insight into what his most loyal followers were like in their unlikable moments, and how Jesus loved them with all their imperfections and faults.
After Jesus tried to tell his disciples about his mission, they didn’t like it, and told him so. He said, “You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but your own.” They stopped children from coming to him, perhaps thinking he was too busy for them, or they were unimportant. “Let the children alone”, he said, “do not hinder them from coming to me for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” They argued about who was greatest among them. He reminded them that those who are greatest are those who serve others. They criticized a woman for wasting expensive oil to anoint Jesus, saying that it could be sold and the money given to the poor. He said, “Leave her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to me.” They were angry at people who treated Jesus wrongly and wanted to get revenge by destroying them. Jesus rebuked them saying, “You don’t know what kind of spirit you are displaying, for I didn’t come to destroy people’s lives but to save them.” In life-threatening situations, they failed to trust Jesus and let their fears dictate their lives. “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?”
Many times they did not understand what he was trying to teach them, they didn’t get it. He had expected them to be better learners and said things like, “Do you not yet understand?”, “How is it you do not understand?”, “Have I been so long with you and yet you have not come to know me?” When Jesus was facing the crisis of his impending death, he asked his closest disciples to watch and pray with him. They couldn’t do it and fell asleep. Also, they boasted that they would be loyal to Jesus and that they would die for him. When it came time to take a stand, they all ran away and hid. One of them, when questioned, denied knowing him. After Jesus died and had risen from the dead, even though others told them that they had seen Jesus alive again, they would not believe it. So he appeared to them.
Jesus was patient with them, correcting and guiding them along the way. In spite of their imperfections and faults, they knew Jesus loved them and they still believed in him and wanted to please him. His appearance to them made all the difference. Their feelings of failure and disappointment evaporated away. Joy came! He told them what he wanted them to do and trusted them to do it. He said he would put his Spirit in them to give them the power, words, and wisdom to fulfill his mission for them. By seeing his example, and through the help of his Spirit in them, they learned to love themselves and others as he had loved them.
When you and I grow in our relationship with Jesus, receive his Spirit through faith in him, and experience his love like his first disciples did, we will grow to like ourselves and put forth the effort to become the person he wants us to be. Jesus came to help all of us grow out of self-condemnation and into people of self-love, people who are confident and loving, people who are increasingly making positive and good contributions to others around us. He promises never to leave or forsake us, and his “I love you” is eternal. Persevering through our trials and tribulations, trusting his continual presence, exercising faith, hope, and love in him, we can please him, accomplish his good will, and ultimately become whole and complete in every way. He will see to it.