By Bruce Henning
Have you ever felt discouraged? I'm sure the answer is "yes." Every living person goes through times of frustration and discouragement. We've all spent our energy on some project and thought "what was it all for?"
In fact, even the Lord Jesus was no exception. We hear Him say in a prophecy in Isaiah "'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain" (Isaiah 49:4). The One who had "done all things well" (Mark 7:37) was "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:2). Disappointment awaited Him at every turn.
Think of His discouragement with offering the kingdom to Israel. With perfect accuracy He fulfilled prophecy and presented Himself to Israel as her long awaited Messiah. But He was "hated without a cause" (John 15:25). "He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). How it broke His heart to have gone through all His ministry to the lost sheep of Israel to bring about national restoration and for their final decision to be "Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!" (John 19:15).
Or think of His frustration with teaching His hard headed disciples. He was the very embodiment of humility. Many of His parables ended with, "the last shall be first and the first shall be last." He explicitly instructs His disciples against arguing who would be the greatest on their trip to Jerusalem (Luke 9:46-48). And yet after hammering away on humility for over three years in close intimate discipleship, what happens in the Upper Room? On the very night before His crucifixion and as His earthly teaching ministry comes to a close, He explains how He will give Himself as the basis for the New Covenant and then the disciples start a conversation - "which one of them would be the greatest?" (Luke 22:24) He must have wondered, "Did they learn nothing?"
Time and time again He had opportunity to think "I have labored in vain." But though people let Him down constantly, nothing could stop Him from fulfilling His mission. In another of Isaiah's servant songs, we read that the Messiah "will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth" (Isaiah 42:4). He's not the kind of person who requires men's approval or response to keep going. He said "I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 6:38). Don't you marvel at the dedication of the Lord Jesus Christ? He is an unstoppable force! Once He has made a promise and set out to accomplish a goal, nothing can stand in His way.
There's a lot to learn here from His resolve. Certainly we all could stand to learn from His example and increase our devotion to do God's will. We should imitate the One who said "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work" (John 4:34). No matter how little things seem to change, we never waste our time doing the will of God.
But there's another important lesson to see from the determination of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes our discouragement comes from unavoidable circumstances. Sometimes it comes from people's rejection of our offer of love. But discouragement often stems from our own failures. I know I've failed the Lord too many times to count. Haven't you?
But it is at this point that we need to remember His character. He's not the kind of person who can be deterred from fulfilling His promise. "And this is the promise that He promised us - eternal life" (1 John 2:25). He explained His Father's great desire this way, "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:39-40).
Have you believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life? If so, then God's mission for His Son is to keep you secure and to raise you up on the last day. Nothing can discourage Him from accomplishing that goal. He is determined to finish it through. Praise God for our unstoppable Christ!