In John chapter 5 we are given an insight into Jesus’ modus operandi, the basis of his ministry: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
This extraordinary statement comes after Jesus had done something that he wasn’t supposed to have done – at least by the strict standards imposed by the Pharisees. He had healed a man who had been disabled for 38 years, but healed him on a Sabbath: So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. (John 5:16)
And it’s after this that Jesus, perhaps as way of explanation, describes his singular approach to ministry. His Father is always at work, reaching people, loving people, healing people; and Jesus chooses to be the physical expression of the Father’s good works, working in perfect harmony with heaven’s purposes. He sees what God is doing and joins in. It’s that simple.
Of all the desperate and broken people that were gathered around the Pool of Bethesda that day, Jesus was able to perceive that there was one on whom God’s eyes were intently resting. Jesus had eyes so focussed on his Father, and a heart so committed to doing his Father’s will, that he was able to step into that moment of supernatural Kingdom potential, and a man’s life was utterly transformed. Heaven’s healing power invaded earthly reality because Jesus could see where God was at work that day.
“I only do what I see my Father doing.”
What might it look like for us to start following and imitating Jesus in his approach to life and ministry? As disciples of Jesus we are invited into the same way of working and living that he had. We are called to follow him and his ways. So even if it might at first seem unattainable, Jesus wants us to follow his example and model our lives on his.
Our starting point is always, that, as God’s beloved children we are rooted in covenantal relationship with him. We don’t have to strive to see and hear him. We have access to his presence at all times. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, has been poured out upon us and he delights to reveal God’s heart and purposes to us (John 16:14, 1 Corinthians 2:9-11).
But to develop a lifestyle of seeing and partnering with the work of the Father requires active participation. To join in with God’s story we need to be intentionally looking: seeking him out with faith and expectancy. For most of us this requires us to change our way of thinking, to cultivate a new posture and mindset. We have to practice!
In a recent coaching huddle that I was leading (for more details of huddles see here) we spent time reflecting on how we could begin to imitate Jesus and intentionally live from a place of joining in with whatever the Father is doing. I’m delighted to share with you the testimonies of Donna and Marilyn from Louisiana and their experiences:
Marilyn: After our huddle I started asking the Lord every day, “What is it that you want me to see in this day? What are you doing that is of you, Lord? Help me to see you as I go about my day.”
On the first day of starting out with these words, I decided to go by this embroidery shop (it was not part of my plan when I left the house). I arrived at this shop 15 minutes before it opened and decided I didn’t mind waiting, as it would give me time with God as I waited.
Once in the shop I was talking with the young woman about some designs and during our conversation I learned her father had passed away and she used to have a good relationship with him but before he died their relationship had soured. She didn’t have her mother anymore due to drug abuse for as long as she has known her. This young woman had married a man who was addicted to heroine and alcohol. She had 3 young boys. Dealing with all of this had become overwhelming to her. She was crying and said “I don’t know why I am sharing this with you. I don’t cry easy and I never talk about this to anyone.”
I proceeded to talk to her about leaning on God’s word and love. She said she didn’t go to church but talked to Jesus daily. I shared that I knew it was no accident that we met and our conversation went in the direction that it did. It was our Heavenly Father’s plan. She agreed. I really stressed to her that she needed to hang on to God in her life and, no matter what, to not let go. “In his time he will see you through this,” I encouraged her.
It was a wonderful experience and I plan to see more of this young lady. She knows I am praying for her and her family. I was on such a high as I left there knowing that God had spoken very clearly to me and to her on this day. Praises!!!!! I love asking him, “What are you up to today?” more that ever before.
Donna: My husband and I went to Jazz Fest last month. I had done a huddle earlier that morning where we were challenged to ask Abba Father to show us what he was doing and have us join in with him, which I shared with Larry on the drive into the city. When we go out I normally let my husband do all the talking and just hang out at his side (being an introvert), but that didn’t happen this day.
Part of our Jazz Fest passes included access to the Miller Beer Tent, a private area where you could escape from the big crowd. So after visiting the Gospel Tent we made our way to the Miller Tent to relax. I turned to Larry and told him, “Now would be a great time to ask the Father that question.” “Here?!” he asked. “Why not?” I replied. And so I did and started intentionally looking for the Father’s response. I was not disappointed.
Very soon I felt God draw my attention to a young woman following an older man, both wearing clean-up crew t-shirts. They were walking to the back area, heads down, separate from everyone else. Throughout the day she came into my awareness repeatedly. I noticed how discrete they were in the crowd, and she was always following him.
Larry and I chose the bar located at the very back to use our free drink tickets at. Two young women attended it all day and we easily formed friendly connections with them both (I was more chatty with them than Larry – way out of my normal behavior). We never went to a different bar and would revisit them each time we ventured back to the Miller Tent. Visiting with them became fun for me and for them.
When Larry and I were outside the Miller Tent, the crowd was very big. Thousands of people were milling around the many booths, music tents, food row – it can be intense for an introvert but not this day. Holy Spirit prompted me many times to speak to strangers in my path. One was a cute young girl wearing an eclectic top. “Tell her she looks good in that blouse,” I was prompted, and so I did as I passed her. She beamed with pleasure and thanked me. “Ask him what his food choice is,” I heard, so I did. The young man told me and out of my mouth a reply of, “Oh that’s awesome! It must be delish!” He beamed and said it was. Many times this happened in many different ways and scenarios. Each time I just ‘knew’ that Holy Spirit did ‘something’ in their hearts. I didn’t have to know what it was. I just kept going and I was soaring high with him.
Later in the afternoon, Larry and I ate at a table near the back bar. As we finished, the clean-up crew of two came walking our way and I was acutely aware of them. The man was at my side to pass me when it all went into slow motion. I looked at the young woman, and she at me as my hand went upward toward her. Her hand immediately reached toward mine and fitted right into my hand. I told her, “Thank you,” with great feeling. Her face lit up with the most beautiful smile, her eyes very bright, and she mumbled a response that I think was, “You’re welcome.” She had not slowed her stride and was passing me, our hands still together. As she moved out of my reach, our hands slid apart and our eyes slowing turned away from each other. It was very crowded all around us, and very noisy (Larry and I had been having to lean in to talk and listen to each other), but Holy Spirit had done something and I was very aware of that. That was the last time I saw her that day.
Right after that moment, I clearly heard God say to me, “Those girls [the bartenders] have not had a break or anything to eat today,” and I knew I could get them some refreshment. I immediately got up, went to the bar and asked if they had had a break or any lunch. They both told me no, no, they don’t get breaks and would eat after they got off that night. So I told them that I wanted to get them something to eat. They kept insisting that I didn’t have to do that, they would be fine, but I eventually persuaded them and went off to get them some strawberry shortcake. Amazingly there was no queue at the shortcake booth and I quickly bought two. When I arrived back at the bar the two young women were astonished. One of them exclaimed three times how she couldn’t believe I came ‘right back’. I left them with their treats knowing Holy Spirit had just done something.
I cannot describe the spiritual high of that day and the hunger to live every day like it. It hasn’t happened exactly like that again, but I do ask Abba Father the question, “Show me what you are doing and how I can join in,” every day now.