Jesus loved being “young”, like most of us do – the time of our lives when our prettiness/handsomeness is at an Himalayan high and our energy-levels at an Everest high. Why did I say that Jesus loved being young? Here’s why – follow the line of my argument carefully: Jesus had the power to choose when he could die (John 10:18); He chose to die when he was in the prime of his youth; He was about 30 when he started his ministry – Luke records (Luke 3:23); John, the Gospel writer, talks about three Passovers which Jesus took part in (John 2:13; 6:4 and 11:55); Since the Passover was an annual festival for the Jews (Lev. 23:1-8; I Sam. 1:3, 21), we know Jesus’ ministry on the earth lasted for three years, before he was crucified and buried; He rose again as a young man, three days later. And he ascended to heaven as a young man of 33; He sits at the right hand of the Father as a young man; In all these years, his glorious body has not aged – I believe – because the Bible says “the same” young Jesus whom the disciples ascend into heaven will return back to this earth (Acts 1:11).
Young people, Jesus can understand you because he is God who is all knowing. Not just that. He can stand you(th) because he is young even right now!
Jesus also loves meeting young people. In his earthly ministry, Jesus met several youth and ministered to them. However, the Gospel writers were moved by the Holy Spirit to give details of Jesus’ interaction with three different youth (only these three persons whom I will refer to are explicitly called ‘youth’). Let us take a long look at those biblical incidents when Jesus met youth and draw lessons for the youth of today.
- WHEN JESUS MET A COLD YOUNG MAN
Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian Fast Bowler, has a nick-name. He is nicknamed “Bootlace Bomber”, because of his ability of bowl yorkers accurately and high speed. Jesus can be given a nick-name. Jesus can be called “the Funeral Spoiler”! He is seen disrupting three funerals at various stages of increasing difficulty – one which took place in a home, the other when the body was being carried from the home to the graveyard and still yet another when the body was buried in the graveyard! He disrupts the funeral of the young man who was being carried to the graveyard. He was the only son of his widowed mother (Luke 7:12). And he was being carried to the grave! This is what happened according to Dr. Luke: He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Luke 7:14). That young man rose again from the dead and Jesus gave him back to his mother (Luke 7:15).
Have you touched dead bodies? I have. I recently touched the dead body of my maternal uncle who passed after battling Parkinson’s Disease for 25 years. Dead bodies are cold. I want to draw an analogy here. Are you cold, spiritually speaking? Are you cold in your love towards the One whose love for you is warm? There was a time when you used to pray for long hours without looking at the clock. There was a time when you would witness without any second thoughts. There was a time when you fled from temptation and enjoyed the fleeing because you knew sin’s pleasures were, at best, fleeting. But not any longer. Now, prayer times have become a drag for you. You do not witness for Jesus at all. And you run towards temptation feeling super-excited. You need to repent. You need to come back to Jesus. You must come back to the “first love” you had for Jesus (Rev. 2:4). Your love for Jesus needs to be warm.
- WHEN JESUS MET A HALF-COMMITTED YOUNG MAN
Matthew records the conversation of a “young man” (Matt. 19:20,22) of “great wealth” (Matt. 19:22) had with Jesus. He had the right question – “What must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). He wasn’t talking about earthly things but things of eternal value. So, in that sense, he asked the right question. Having read the full Bible we know that we do not have “do” anything to get eternal life. All we need to do to be saved is to believe in the Lord Jesus who died and rose again for us with a truly repentant heart (Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31 – two passages where we read the question of unbelievers, “What shall we do now?”). The rich young man not only asked the right question, he exhibited the right posture. Mark records that this young man “knelt” down before Jesus when he asked that question (Mark 10:17 ESV). This tells me that he respected Jesus and wanted to express that respect by the posture of kneeling. But the rich young man who asked the right question with the right posture responded wrongly to Jesus. Jesus, who knew everything as God (John 2:25), knew about his greed and love for money problem. So, Jesus touched that aspect of his life in response to his question. But he did not do that in an angry tone. He did it lovingly. Mark records that Jesus looked at this young man and “loved him” as he gave his response to his question (Mark 10:21). Jesus loves young people. But he does not desire that young people stay in their sins – be it pride or porn-watching or peer-pressure yielding or prayerlessness. So he lovingly calls youth to repent – especially of their “pet” sins. If you are given to the secret habit of shooting and sending nude selfies via WhatsApp Jesus would say this to you, looking at you in a loving way: “Yet one thing you lack. Surrender your WhatsApp life to me!” (Read Mark 10:21 to understand what Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler). Here is the message we need to get: Jesus loves us just the way we are, but he won’t leave us that way. He would woo us with his love, wow us with his love. He love when truly experienced will transform our life. But if we keep rejecting his love, a time will surely come when the Holy Sprit may stop talking to us and we will land in eternal hell (Rev. 21:7-8; Gen. 6:3; Romans 1:18-24).
So do not be half-committed, when it comes to your commitment with Jesus! The rich young man walked away “sad” when he took a U-turn from Jesus and walked away because he was unwilling to repent of his love of money in a practical way by selling all his possessions, giving what he got to the poor, and following Jesus (join Jesus’ ministry team) [Mark 10:21]. He level of commitment to Jesus was not 100%. He kept some parts of his life for himself, for sin, for Satan. This young man wanted to serve Jesus and Money. And that led to sadness. Double-mindedness leads to delight-loss – this was James’ message (Whoever wavers in his mind is troubled in all his ways – James 1:8, Aramaic Bible in Plain English). Don’t lock a corner of your life secretly to porn by watching nudity via streaming platforms like Netflix. Don’t make room in your heart for a little pride in the name having good self-esteem. Give up “all” sin and surrender your “full” life to Jesus (note Jesus’ stress on the word “all” in his response to the young man who was rich in Mark 10:21). Then, the lasting joy which the young rich man missed will be yours (Mark 10:22; Matt. 19:22). When you surrender your life to Jesus without holding anything back – I repeat without holding anything back – you are sure to experience the joy which the world cannot give, money can’t buy (the rich young ruler should have known this) and Satan cannot take away. I can testify to that!
- WHEN JESUS MET A COWARDLY YOUNG MAN
There was a young man who followed Jesus enroute to the Cross. But when the Roman Arrest party closed-in on Jesus he had to choose between suffering with Jesus or scooting from Jesus. He chose the later option, for lack of courage. You can read about him in Mark 14:51 – ‘A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he [v]pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked’ (NASB). When this young man had to choose being naked in public and being nerveless in public, he chose the former. He was a coward. He was curious about Jesus (that why he followed Jesus). But he could not make up him mind to be courageous for Jesus. He was exactly the opposite of John Chou, the young American who went to North Sentinel Islands to proclaim Jesus, pretty well knowing that his life was at risk at the hands of the untamed, javelin-wielding, tribal people who lived there in 2018. He sure lost his life. But great will be reward on the other side of eternity. Do you know in the list of people who will go to hell even “cowards” are mentioned? (Rev. 21:7-8). The book of Revelation was written as an encouragement for people who were being persecuted. The message of that book is simple: “Endure”. Revelation 13:10b read this way: ‘Here is a call for the perseverance and faith of the saints.’ Revelation 14:12’s message is also the same: ‘This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.’ When Revelation 21:7-8 places even the ‘cowardly’ in the list of people who will go to hell, we understand this way: those who repeated, stubbornly, deny Jesus through their words and actions for the fear of a repercussion (repercussions like ‘my friends will make fun of me, if I refuse to drink along with them’, ‘if I say no to sex when this girl is offering it offering to me, she will think I am not even a man!’, ‘if I question my pastor about this false teaching he is preaching, he will not have me on stage as a worship leader in this church’, etc) are in the real danger of going to eternal hell.
So, in your campus life, show people that you have a backbone. In your corporate office, let people know that out of that popularity contest. Live for Jesus courageously!
Note: This article was published in the August 2019 issue of Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India.
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is a trained Agricultural Engineer [B. Tech from SHIATS, Allahabad], who did not pursue a career in the line of his education but nevertheless enjoys growing cacti in the balcony of his flat, during his spare time. He could have been a cricket commentator but prefers to wrap Bible Truth around cricket magic moments and other interesting-to-Google Genners contemporary events. God’s call upon him made him utterly restless and he obeyed that call to by founding the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission to finally find serenity after having served as a pastor/missionary/editor. G4 Mission is not a church but an inter-denominational ministry to present-day people, a ministry which Duke works fulltime for, as an itinerant presenter/preacher since 2008 putting to use the formal theological training he received from a reputed Bible College in Bangalore [M. Div & Doctor of Ministry from CGLD-SABC]. Duke is called ‘dad’ by Dale (15) and Datasha (11) and ‘hubby’ by Evangelin and calls Hyderabad his adopted home. In case your curiosity is triggered by reading all this, you may checkout dukewords.com [if you are the reading plain text type], soundcloud.com/shoutaloud [if you are part of the audio-listening tribe] and youtube.com/visitduke [if you group yourself with the video-steaming generation]).