“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’”
-- John 18:4
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. “We’re seeking Jesus of Nazareth.”
An incredible thing happened next.
In His surrender, Jesus knocked His prospective captors to the ground with the words that followed.
“I am He,” He said.
John writes that, at those words, the detachment of troops and officers, bearing lanterns, torches and weapons, drew back and fell to the ground.
That moment changed our eternity. You’d expect it to be somewhat earth-shaking.
But what you can’t miss here is that Jesus does the exact same thing in our lives upon our surrender.
Upon our confession that Jesus is “He” – that He is the Lord over our lives – He knocks down all of our captors. Every single thing that has ensnared our lives no longer has any hold on us.
He’s already won the battle. Upon our surrender, He takes it from there. His Word breaks our chains.
Jesus’ journey to the cross was for all mankind, for anyone who would come to call on His name. Free for the taking but given at the highest cost.
This was His surrender for His beloved. Words spoken knowing all that would come upon Him but knowing also the freedom those words would bring; Words that level every potential captor – both in the moment, and for eternity.
In John 10:17, Jesus, speaking in advance of this very surrender said, “... I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”
He spoke then prophetically of what would happen next.
But He also showed us the depth and the beauty of His heart. Truly, He showed us what true love is.
And it’s a model we would be wise to follow in our own lives.
Very simply, you can’t take what has been freely given.
And no one can take from you what you have first laid down in surrender – what you have offered freely.
Therein lies the very nature of grace: unmerited and undeserved.
It is true of Jesus’ sacrifice for us – an incredible gift from the God of heaven for our eternal salvation.
It is true of His love for you – given outside of anything you could ever possibly do to earn it.
It is true also of the life that you give back to Him.
Whatever you do, as a believer in Jesus Christ, if you go about it with the heart that you have surrendered it to Him first – no one can then take that from you.
It removes the bitternesses and the hurts that might try to creep in.
It removes the expectation of an equal-parts return from others, when so clearly the gift we were first given by Him was something we could never begin to repay.
It shifts the focus from whoever may receive the benefit of your heart of service, and it places that focus where it truly belongs: on the One – the only One – who can take what was surrendered back up again and breathe His life into it.
We read the encouragement in 1 Corinthians 15:58 the encouragement to, “always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Whatever you surrender first to Jesus is something that He will use ultimately for His glory, and for the good of a great many.
That starts with your life. It starts in your heart.
Joey Crandall is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Carson Valley.