Did Jesus Ever Feel Obligated to Do Anything?

How do you feel when there is a sense of obligation tied to plans you have? Rarely is the word obligation associated with a positive sense of responsibility, although that is clearly one of its definitions. But I’d guess 96% of the time, when you feel obligated to make or keep plans, go somewhere or do something, instead of a right sense of duty and just weight you are honored to carry, there is a sense of… “I wish there was a way to get out of this.”  When telling others about these plans, you use words like “have to” “need to” or “should”.

I was processing this while on a walk a few days ago, and I began to compare this way of thinking to how Jesus would have thought.

I find myself doing that the more I study Him.

So the resounding question in my mind became, “would Jesus have ever felt obligated to do anything?” And I may be wrong, but I can’t see it happening his whole life long, according to the accounts of Mark, Luke, Matthew and His closest friend, John. Well, up until the night before He was crucified when he said “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  But in many accounts, He didn’t even finish his sentence before adding:  yet not my will, but Yours be done.

In adding that last part, he was essentially saying He had a will to survive (like every human being innately has), but He had another will – one greater: He wanted the Father’s will – even if that meant suffering. Even torture on a cross.

Because Jesus declared his own will to match his Father’s, the only sense of obligation I see in his life – even in the angst-filled hours in the garden, was in a just and right and responsible sense – a heavy weight He was honored to carry and carry through to completion. This obligation – in the right, just, responsible sense, actually refers to Him being bound.

Bound?! Jesus? The very embodiment of freedom?

Yes. Because He is Truth. You’ve heard the saying “My word is my bond” – well, the only human being who can say that and mean it is Jesus. He is bound by His own word. But His word is the only thing that could or did ever bind him.

He may be persuaded to change the course of a circumstance because of faith put on display, but He is not a man that He should lie.  He speaks peace or order over a thing, and it follows His command – from eyes to wind. Light to death. His words are power. He fulfilled every single prophecy spoken about Him from the beginning of creation.  Like it states in the first definition above, He is “legally bound” – or obligated – to complete, fulfill, follow through on his own word.

This should make us, his followers, sigh the biggest sigh of relief and rest peacefully every night, knowing and believing His promises will come to pass for us as a people – and as His individual friends.

In pretty much every other sense of the word, I think it is safe to say He never felt obligated to do anything.  We can also sigh in relief knowing we never have to feel obligated to do anything either! No wonder the feeling we get when we cancel plans we’ve been dreading is the feeling of freedom! Here’s why:

Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing.  The time He’d spend with the Father created a bond between them that afforded Him security, power, authority, and reassurance of His identity. If you continually walked in these things, would you ever feel obligated to do anything? Not in the negative sense. That kind infers bondage.

For if there is something we ought to do, the Holy Spirit will speak to us saying so, and cause a stirring in our heart to desire it because He desires it.  Now, the enemy may attempt to make us believe a lie and feel terrible or feel responsible for things we ought not. But let’s train our spiritual ears to hear our Shepherd’s voice. Let’s reject the imposter’s voice that would have us take on more than we should, resulting in heaviness, stress, co-dependency and more. That is not part of the abundant life He has. We are safe when we can pinpoint and embrace with confidence the things the Lord is telling us to commit to (and to let go of those things he is saying to let go of – to free yourself of the responsibility of – without feeling guilt or shame).

Our response of YES to his invitation, because of the bond we’ve created with Him over time, means, I WANT to do it – because YOU want me to, Abba Father.  Hmm… Sounds familiar. Kinda like, “…not my will, but YOURS be done.” This matching of the mortal will to the Father’s can only happen safe inside a deep-rooted, trust-filled relationship. Oh that we could all experience that!

One of my favorite lyrics by Hillsong United is, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am, for your Kingdom’s cause.” It shares this same sentiment.

This is my prayer – that my heart would break with His, and rejoice along with His. So that every action I take – every reaction I make throughout my days would come from a place of total trust and resulting obedience. And like Jesus, may my only sense of obligation – the only way I am bound – be to my word.

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Chase Him Down or Chase Him Away

I don’t remember the last time I met a man who was so radical in his beliefs, claims and actions, that people would either flock to him and become totally transformed or get so upset that he was disrupting their current way of doing things that they forced him out of the city.  It’s safe to say, probably never.  When it came to Jesus and those he ran into, it seems they either chased him down, or they chased him away.

But when it came to Jesus and those he ran into, it seems they either chased him down, or they chased him away. He’s an extremist. For sure. His presence tends to make people buckle and embrace his power in humility or resist it completely in furious pride. There’s no middle ground with him. That’s been our territory for two millennia. Not his.

Chased Him Down

After Jesus was baptized, and after he returned from the wilderness completely emptied and completely filled, he began his ministry in that region – a ministry of constant outpouring of both power and love. His presence meant miracles. His name conjured images in the people’s minds, of real healing and real hope. Thirty-four times it is written in the gospels, how crowds were gathered all around him.  There was no denying what he could do.  And none of them knew who this man was, except perhaps that he came from a little nearby town called Nazareth.  What they knew, is what they witnessed him doing. And what they heard him saying. Even though the sayings were filled with mystery and profundity, and even though they seemed up-side-down and void of reason, they didn’t keep the people from filling the space around this man who claimed to be God. The words of Jesus were life-giving. As was the touch of his hand. He restored. So they came. Do you think they came for him? No. They had no idea. They didn’t see him like we see him. They flocked to him, and they chased him down really, for what he could give them. What he provided. He was the means to the end – wholeness. The means to the end – health. Forgiveness. Peace. Life. And even life eternal. I’d be pressing in, too.

I’d be pressing in, too. I hope. I mean, as much as the drinking of his blood and eating of his body would creep me out, I think…I hope I would be nodding along with Peter as he replied to Jesus moments later, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6)

I can think of a few who “chased him down”:

  • Nicodemus (John 3) who went in the night to the home where Jesus was staying,
  • The Gerasene man filled with demons came running out to meet him from the grave caves (Mark 5),
  • Even women took the chance of approaching him like the one who suffered from a blood disease for twelve years,
  • Jairus the desperate father whose daughter had just died but was “only sleeping” according to Jesus (Mark 5),
  • There was a Roman Centurion who found Jesus and took the extra step of faith to believe he’d heal his servant, who lay paralyzed, miles away
  • And the leper who found Jesus and plead with him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8)

Those in the crowds were the ones whose eyes were beginning to open to the truth he’d pour out. Some got it. They were normal villagers, hungry for both truth and nourishment, frustrated in their sin and discord, sick, possessed or oppressed by evil spirits. They seemed used to the decay of the human condition, and this prophesied Messiah, if it really was Him, would be their only hope. But his confusing parables and extreme teachings, many were simply not ready for.  And if that didn’t keep them from gathering around, it was his miraculous power that actually scared some, causing them to force Jesus out of their city limits.

Chased Him Away

In two instances I can think of off hand, where Jesus was chased away, one was by his own hometown folk when he went to visit Nazareth.  They allowed their familiarity with his family (“isn’t this the son of Joseph the carpenter? How can this be?”) to build unbelief and even violent resistance in their hearts. Some translations call it a deep offense. After Jesus told them that prophets are not accepted in their hometown, and gave some examples of minor prophets who were sent to outside regions to perform miracles because miracles are directly correlated to belief, Luke reports what happens next:

“the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.”

The other instance of him being chased away was by those who witnessed the deliverance of the madman. This man who’d been living naked, insane, howling, and breaking every chain that attempted to secure him. He was delivered of Legion, a mob of thousands of demons. Aside from raising the dead, this was the impossible case, if there ever was one. Yet, after the awe wore off, and word spread, the miracle witnesses became upset and offended because their pigs had drowned.

 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.

That’s a lot of bacon. But I wondered earlier this week if the downturn of their meat market was the only reason they made him leave. I honestly think that having someone so close with so much power immediately available to him was a frightening reality to consider. What if he were to use his power for evil? What if he would threaten their way of life and teach repentance? Changing the way one thinks was as hard then, as it is now. To stay the same undisruptable way,  and to keep from losing more livestock, they forfeited the freedom of many of their fellow men by making the Miracle Worker leave. Of course, he respected their wishes, as he still does. For the will of man will not be violated by the Creator of man.

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One more instance where Jesus wasn’t necessarily chased away, but had to leave a place pretty urgently, it was because he had infuriated religious leaders there. He did that a lot. They literally picked up rocks to stone him to death, and he not only talked his way out of a stoning, he walked right through the group of angry accusers:

 So they tried again to seize Him, but He eluded their grasp. (John 10)

I love that, don’t you?

He eluded their grasp. Like a stealth lead actor in 007, only wearing sandals, I want to be like him, that way. Not the sandals part. But when accusers come at me, I want to elude their grasp every single time.

I wonder if I’ll ever be as bold as Jesus, looking over my shoulder at people chasing me down for a miraculous healing or chasing me away because of unbelief or offense. Maybe it’s just way less obvious now, in our digital world where they can simply hide me from their newsfeed, block my messages, “Unfollow” me or ignore my calls because I’ve become so literal or extreme. Yeah, now that I type the words…I realize that’s actually happened. And as much as it hurt, I can say this: me and Jesus…we can kind of relate better now. He’s been through all of it. I’m getting to be a little more like him.

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On the other hand, I’ve healed people solely by the power of God, from headaches to evil spirits, to a whiplashed neck (to anyone who may be caught off guard by the phrase “I’ve healed…”, I understand, and I’m working on a new blog post about those two words, already. Please stay tuned).

I’m not quite sure how to put it into words, but there is something like a slow unifying of spirits taking place inside of me, through experience… of both the rejection of a certain group of people and the restoring of brokenness of another demographic altogether.

Revelation by revelation. Step by step…of faith, and year by year. Isn’t that the goal? To be transformed into his likeness – to look like him more and more by getting to know him?

Richness To The More

Yet I feel like there’s so much more ground to cover. There is so much more truth to uncover and teach and preach…divine revelation that will undoubtedly offend those who just have a hard time unlearning what they believed was “the gospel truth” for decades. Like I have had to do. I have a great assurance though, that with deep digging and insight from the Holy Spirit alone, void of media or pastor or commentary interpretation, there is more. And such richness to the more.

I am reading the Word like I’ve never read it before. Old verses and entire concepts are being redefined and mean new, exciting, controversial and palpable things to me! I’m being drawn to strangers with fearless urgency nearly every week. I think there will always be more. There are so many who are sick or in chronic pain that should’ve been well long, long ago. Had they been living by the Sea of Galilee and encountered him in that day, they most definitely would be made well.  There is so much more peace and comfort on standby, ready to behold from a word of wisdom or knowledge for those who have stopped believing God is close or that he cares.  I want to be “Jesus” to them. Do what he would do. Say what he would say. Regardless of the backlash. I am convinced now, that is the purpose of everyone who loves Jesus and lives for him, complete with power and love made possible only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

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I want to draw crowds around me to make his unearthly power and love evident and seen – even contagious.  So that the glory of him who killed sin by being killed, himself – who conquered death by rising to life, who overcame loss with selfless sacrifice and repaved destruction by handing restored health and relationship to every human being – the glory of this one man – will be made known.

If that means facing rejection, anger, avoidance, defensiveness or even ostracism, Lord, help me to stand my ground and take it just like you did. Thank you for making me more…like you.

Missed

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One missed opportunity
One more way I wasn’t used
Another one I could have blessed
I feel worthless and accused

But I listen closer
And a fainter voice is clear
Reminding me of steadfast love
And knowledge of my fear

Of far reaching power
And of further reaching grace
I forgive myself and look
Into his eyes, and weathered face

I am a priest, a holy saint
Made just and purified
As dawn breaks through, then I will too
Holy Spirit fortified

Abby’s Pizza Widow

Last Wednesday night, at his mom and Bob’s, Ricky went to pay the Abby’s pizza delivery person and I faintly heard her thanking him…more than a normal “thanks”. As the front door closed, he came back into the kitchen and I asked him, “you tipped her more than normal didn’t you?” “Yeah.” He admitted with a smirk, “she walked back to her car crying.” “What?” I said, “we gotta ask her if she needs prayer!”

Angel piped up, “Is she gone yet?! Go go go!”

So with that extra boost, I had to go. I slid Braylon’s slides on and scurried out to catch her before she left. She was head-down, texting. Her headlights caught me waving and she looked up, surprised. Immediately she rolled her window down and asked me, “Was it a mistake?” referring to the tip, and ready for disappointment. I didn’t know how much he gave her. The point was that he acted in obedience. I could still see her tear lines on her face. “Oh, NO! That was no mistake.” Her tears gave me the perfect opportunity to ask, “Are you okay?” It was less awkward than starting out with “Can I pray for you?”.

She paused as I bent my knees and looked in her eyes, carefully gauging her comfort zone. “Yeah, I just…” She was having a hard time finding words. So I thought it was good timing to ask, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?” Her answer was unexpected.

“I lost my husband five years ago” she replied so transparently as her emotions kept trying to interrupt. “This time of year can just be so hard for me.”  We talked some more and she welcomed a prayer right there in the driveway. As I placed my open hand on top of hers, she took her other hand and put it on top of mine, a gesture of trust, vulnerability and faith.

She had been married to him for over 25 years. I don’t know what I prayed really, but I do recall bringing up God’s names, The Comforter and the Prince of Peace. She was so genuinely joyful as we finished talking, and thanked me twice for coming out to her car. This was the work of the Spirit. It was not because of me, or Ricky…it was because of the goodness of the God we’re getting to know more. We’re learning it’s His grace that gives us the boldness and power and a really cool sort of intuition we need to “go” when we’d otherwise stay where we are. It really is all about His love. His pursuit of every heart, through us. I love it!

A few days later, the Lord kept bringing her back to Ricky’s mind and so we stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up a card, and some gift cards for her – because maybe she needed some extra Christmas money and some gas money since as a delivery driver you have to pay for your own gas. We wrote in the card and dropped it off for her at Abby’s and found out she’d be working that night (last night). We don’t know what this will yield. But we know it will be good. Because we were representing a giving, loving God to this woman who was in distress. I know this Christmas will be different for her though. In a good way.

Before the Triumphal Entry

He still heals today! If you need healing, Jesus can heal you any time, any place. Today will be dedicated to healing and testimonies at Father’s House City Ministries, Portland, 11am. Free PSU lot parking. If you need healing, go to this celebration of Jesus and his compassion! They will continue to join with Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry to help release freedom and wholeness to people here in Portland. They’ve already seen so many healed and deciding to follow Jesus since April 8th this week!

In Matthew 20:29-34 – just before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in the road and asked two men who were loudly calling for him to have mercy on them, “what do you want me to do for you?” Of course, he knew, but he wanted them to speak their need to him…a courageous display of submission and humility. “Lord”, they said, “we want to see!” BTW, “Hosanna” is an exclamation of praise that literally means “save now”. So Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. “Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.”

This stood out to me this morning – it took place just before the triumphal entry. Jesus took time to notice those in need and touched them. It was instant. They could see. And so they followed him. It the literal sense, no one can expect a person without sight to follow anyone. They are blind, for goodness sake! But once they see, all bets are off. They can now follow, with no excuse, the One who cares completely. The One who dissolved their affliction.

Spiritually, no one can be expected to follow him either, unless their eyes are touched with the undeniable truth of Jesus’ love and power. An no one can judge their behavior. Unless their heart is supernaturally turned toward his truth and they receive it, they are blind. But once they see, see the Truth for who he is, he will be absolutely magnetic! The things of earth will grow strangely dim around him and like these two blind men, they will follow him, too. Healing is so amazing. But to be a devoted follower of Jesus is even better. May the Church rise up, bring the sick (heart, mind and body) to Jesus, infuse courage to speak loudly their need to him and believe with them for his healing touch and for transformed lives.

He still heals today! If you need healing, Jesus can heal you any time, any place. Today will be dedicated to healing and testimonies at Father's House City Ministries, Portland, 11am. Free PSU lot parking. If you need healing, go to this celebration of Jesus and his compassion! They will continue to join with Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry to help release freedom and wholeness to people here in Portland. They've already seen so many healed and deciding to follow Jesus since April 8th this week!

In Matthew 20:29-34 - just before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in the road and asked two men who were loudly calling for him to have mercy on them, "what do you want me to do for you?" Of course, he knew, but he wanted them to speak their need to him...a courageous display of submission and humility. "Lord", they said, "we want to see!"  BTW, "Hosanna" is an exclamation of praise that literally means "save now". So Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. "Instantly they could see! Then they followed him."

{Pastor Steve Trujillo, this stood out to me this morning - it took place just before the triumphal entry.} Jesus took time to notice those in need and touched them. It was instant. They could see. And so they followed him. It the literal sense, no one can expect a person without sight to follow anyone. They are blind, for goodness sake! But once they see, all bets are off. They can now follow, with no excuse, the One who cares completely. The One who dissolved their affliction.

Spiritually, no one can be expected to follow him either, unless their eyes are touched with the undeniable truth of Jesus' love and power. An no one can judge their behavior. Unless their heart is supernaturally turned toward his truth and they receive it, they are blind. But once they see, see the Truth for who he is, he will be absolutely magnetic! The things of earth will grow strangely dim around him and like these two blind men, they will follow him, too. Healing is so amazing. But to be a devoted follower of Jesus is even better. May the Church rise up, bring the sick (heart, mind and body) to Jesus, infuse courage to speak loudly their need to him and believe with them for his healing touch and for transformed lives.

Southbound – a poem on child sex trafficking

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Southbound

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She used to be a sturdy branch, proud and blossom-bearing.

Now she is a piece of firewood, split with an ax and used to warm a man for a moment.

She stares from the backseat down a crowded freeway and ponders the irony of that word.

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Westbound

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Cut from her life-source, now unable to bear the weight of fear, it gets so heavy that it crushes young bones.

It leaves her whiskey-scented, terribly fragmented.

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At the Border

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She recalls the shaky voice of her Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Ray, “all things work together for good” and asks herself if this journey could be included in the glorious idea of  “all things”.

Good, at one point surrounded her; it is now a speck on a mountainside with no road leading to – or from – it.

Her one piece of ID is taken. Soon after, another piece is stolen, never to be returned. This one, much more sacred – a blend of body, mind and potential.

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Eastbound

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Her eyes watch the signs blur by and the pavement turn to gravel to dirt

An unsuspecting field her suite, flowing curtains made of wheat

A client tries, her eyes to meet as she lets them close, recalling a song her Mamma lulled, “turn your eyes upon Jesus”.

She waits for things of earth to grow strangely dim.

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Southbound

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Split with an ax by one more of hundreds.

Wholeness is a far-fetched dream of which she cannot afford to let go. There would be but one option left.

Stories of rescue, of raids and redemption resound with hope just palatable enough to grasp in her small hand.

She opens her eyes and discovers what was clenched in her hand: the corner of a stained sheet. Could have sworn she was in a field.

Knuckles turn white from this plight. If her spirit weakens any more, her hope will be reduced to a thread, spinning and taut.

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Southeast bound

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She hears a wrinkled woman humming a hymn & the words come back to her.

Its truth thickens the thread.

She recalls when that freeway used to be a free way,  summons the courage to imagine a listening, loving God and wonders if anyone is praying to him on her behalf.

And just in case they are not, she whispers, “I still believe in you. You are all I have. Free me. Please.”

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Southbound

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The More I Seek You, the More I Find You

It brings me to tears nearly every time.

Such intimate lyrics…to think of having this kind of closeness with Jesus – this kind of honesty – it stirs me up inside. Easter Sunday at church, I was near sobbing, picturing myself at that last supper with Him. Next to him. As we took the elements of communion, I envisioned him – how, even in his invisibility, he is still so near me…so available to us all. What kind of love could be that deep to endure the excruciating pain at Golgotha? I am dumb-founded. When I am caught up in his deep love for me, I melt in his peace…a peace that cannot be duplicated or replaced or given by any earthly thing or person. Only Jesus.

What a curious mystery that when I seek Him, I do find him – and the more I find him, and see him for who he is, the more I really do love seem to him back…a love that in return, although genuine, seems so finite. So conditional. It makes me sad. And also sad to realize that there will probably come a day when these lyrics won’t stir my spirit like they do now.

Another song will probably take its place. That’s what’s happened in the past. Most wonderful songs have a sort of shelf-life for stirring. They still encourage and are engaging in the purpose of real worship but no longer touch me and drive me to the core of my emotions like they once did.

Some songs never reach that point. Some are timeless. One is “Why” by Nichole Nordeman. I hope this one remains as another. As you listen and watch this video, picture yourself right there at the table, with Jesus – lost in his love and acceptance…

The more i seek you, the more i find you
The more i find you, the more I love you


I want to sit at your feet,

Drink from the cup in your hand.

Lay back against you and breath,

Hear your heart beat.

This love is so deep,

It’s more than I can stand.

I melt in your peace,

It’s overwhelming