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4 types of people who have relationship with Jesus

Repentance from sin plus faith in Christ equals a new life.
Repentance from sin plus faith in Christ equals a new life. | Pixabay

In this world, there are different types of people who believe they have a relationship with Jesus.

There are those who have had some “encounter” with Jesus, and they wrongly feel there is a connection because they are deceived.

There are other people who genuinely do have a relationship with Jesus, but they have been taught that an authentic relationship with Jesus consists of a certain experience or emotion, so they doubt the reality of their salvation.

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Then there are Christians who have authentic fellowship with Jesus and are certain of it, but they know they can excel more.

And then some people simply do not know Jesus at all.

Every person is in one of these four groups. But how does one know for certain if he or she has a genuine relationship with the Lord and Savior?

In John 12:20-26, some Gentiles make a request — “We wish to see Jesus” — that prompts Jesus to address the question all people should ask: How can someone have real, authentic fellowship with Him?

Jesus’ response is puzzling at first glance. Most commentators admit difficulty with understanding how Jesus’ answer relates to the request. The link, while on the surface enigmatic, is very powerful. Jesus knows these Gentiles desire fellowship with Him, but His response goes beyond their inquiry. He wants to know them personally.

John includes this episode because he wants to assure his readers that though we have not seen Jesus in person, much like the Greeks at the time they made this request, Jesus wants authentic fellowship with everyone who will come to Him in faith.

In the rest of the text, verses 23-26, Jesus highlights three keys to authentic fellowship with Him.

First, we experience authentic fellowship with Jesus through His saving work.

The Lord begins his response to the Greeks by referring to His saving work: His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead.

Jesus calls His saving work, His glorification. He does this for two reasons. First, because the cross is where God’s attributes in Christ are most clearly put on display. At the cross, we most clearly see God’s love, wrath, grace, mercy, justice, and Law — in all its demands and its penalty on transgressors. The cross instantly brings together all these glorious and perfect attributes, that always seem opposed: law and grace, mercy and justice, love and wrath.

Jesus is also glorified at the cross because of the results of His work. Through Christ’s death, He would bear much fruit. The Greeks coming to see Him were a precursor to that. They were the first installment, as it were, of the multitude of fruit to come.

The only way the Greeks can have any meaningful fellowship with Jesus is if He first dies on the cross. Yes, they could interview Him. However, if they really want to know Jesus, it can only happen by means of His death. Jesus must provide the mercy of God by satisfying the justice of God and open the floodgates of the love of God by bearing the wrath of God.

Our fellowship with Christ does not depend on a feeling or an experience, but on a crucified Savior who died on a wooden, bloody, Roman cross. We must come to understand that because of Jesus’ death and through faith in Him, our relationship with Him is an objective reality. We experience authentic fellowship with Jesus through His saving work.

Second, we have authentic fellowship with Jesus through denying ourselves.

Jesus presents the concept of self-denial in a paradox. The person who loves his life loses it, but the person who hates his life keeps it. The first part is the person who loves his life. What does that mean? After all, who doesn’t hang on to the things of this life? That is exactly the question Jesus means to raise in our minds.

The word “lose” is a violent word that signifies destruction. One writer described this word as “definitive destruction, not merely in the sense of the extinction of physical existence, but rather of an eternal plunge into Hades and a hopeless destiny of death.” Those who are living for this life are actively and systematically destroying themselves.

If we want to inherit life and have authentic fellowship with Jesus, we will hate our lives in this world. We will take the eternal perspective and realize that living for the here and now is to waste our lives and to ruin them. The way we protect our lives, odd as it seems, is to let go of it for life eternal. We reject instant gratification and self-centered living, and we wait for eternal life and live a life of self-denial. The goal is life of authentic fellowship with Jesus in His presence forever!

Finally, we experience authentic fellowship with Jesus through following Him.

The person who knows Jesus through His death and resurrection is marked by a life of denying self and following Him. One commentator helpfully noted, “True discipleship involves not only denial of self but also the recognition of the importance of Christ.”

We follow Jesus by following His example. In 1 John 2:3, John wrote, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” Then he adds in verse 6, “The one who says He abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” The people who have real, continual, authentic fellowship with Christ live after His pattern.

So, for example, that means we love one another. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you.” Jesus Himself illustrated this in John 13. He washed His disciples’ feet, and then He said to them, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” Following Jesus, then, means living a life of humble service to one another. It also means forgiving each other. Colossians 3:13 says that we should forgive one another, “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Those who follow Jesus will be where He is. This is the heart of the message to the Greeks. Jesus responds, “Do you want to see Me? Do you want to be where I am? Then follow Me. Serve Me. And if you are My servant, you will be in my presence.”

Men and women who have this fellowship with Jesus will be honored by the Father, who will reward the servants of His Son. This promise also strengthens Jesus’ call to self-denial and following Him down the Calvary Road. It is not those striving after honor in this world who receive honor from God, but it is those seeking humility, obedience, and fellowship with Jesus in His sufferings and death and resurrection, who are honored by the Father.

Jesus’ message to the Greeks who wanted to see Him was that the way they could truly see Him was through His cross as they denied themselves and followed Him. Then they would be where He is when He came for His own. Then they would see the glory He had with the Father before the world began. Then the Father Himself would reward them. The only ones who get to see Jesus are those who are dying to see Him by dying daily to themselves and following Him.

The question for each of us is this: Do we, like the Greeks, want to see Jesus? 

Dr. Robb Brunansky is the Pastor-Teacher of Desert Hills Bible Church in Glendale, Arizona. Follow him on Twitter at @RobbBrunansky.

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