of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will


8. It is hard to find people who are or who want to follow only Jesus and his Teachings.  How do we assemble with fellow followers if we do not know who or where they are?
Having Brothers and Sisters with whom I have fellowship through the medium of the internet is next to the greatest joy that I experience.  The greatest, of course, is the fellowship of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father.  This latter is a miracle, for it cannot be explained.  One only knows within oneself that it is true, that the Lord himself is with us and in us according to his promises:


[15] If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
[16] And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,
17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
[18] I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.
[23] Jesus answered him, If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
This I set before you first of all, to assure you that, even if there are no nearby persons with whom you can meet in common devotion to our Lord and his Word, you yet have the only fellowship that really counts.

You should also know, at the outset, that this word, fellowship (Greek, koinonia) never parted Jesus' lips in the gospel records of his utterances.  Fellowship was therefore not a matter of major significance to Him, or to the Father.

Yet our Lord Jesus surely had a similar experience of hungering for the close fellowship of his brethren, while realizing how tenuous was his relationship with others in this world.  He was seldom alone, yet he was always alone because the crowds of people who flocked to him came from unworthy motives, which he plaintively acknowledged:


[26] Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
We see here that it was his reputation as a miracle worker that drew the curious and the envious to see and hear him, but in all of that there was no fellowship for him.  He recognized also how unreliable was the bond that held his closest disciples to him -- the apostles who were drawn because of his works and insights, not through genuine devotion.  So one day he looked on then and asked, just as plaintively,


    [66] After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
    67] Jesus said to the twelve, Do you also wish to go away?"
    [68] Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;
    [69] and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.
In spite of this grand confession, even Simon Peter was not reliable.  Nor was any of them, it would appear. And Jesus knew clearly their limitations; he found it necessary not only to live without the assured and dedicated fellowship of close friends, but to die in this same lack of assurance, knowing that their loyalty was very questionable.


[27] And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
29] Peter said to him, "Even though they all fall away, I will not.
Yet, he did! He not only denied his Lord, but all did (except the beloved disciple).


[50] And they all forsook him, and fled.
The hardest time for Jesus was undoubtedly those hours on the cross when even the Father forsook him because it was necessary that Jesus make the decision to stay there of his own will, without the assistance or influence of the Father.  It was his incomparable loneliness -- this near despair -- that prompted him to cry out:


[34] And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Then, when it was all over (they thought), Peter voiced what must have been the conclusion of all of the disappointed disciples, deciding to return to his former occupation, thinking that this prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, had surely deceived him:


[3] Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you."
We see this same disappointment voiced by the two disciples on the way to Emmaus:


[21] But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.
The disappointment of these disciples reveals that, even though they had spent literally years listening to Jesus explain his gospel of the Kingdom, they still did not understand but were looking for their messiah to appear and restore the earthly kingdom of David in Palestine.  Such is the power of a beloved delusion that is rooted in scripture.

All of this is to point to the fact that Jesus surely experienced the same sense of loss and abandonment that we feel when friends who once were close or were in fellowship with us choose to go away. They do not realize that they are doing precisely the same thing the earliest disciples did when they went away from Jesus; they have now heard about Jesus as he really is, and are too much of this world to continue with him.  

Yet the apostles and many of the earliest disciples came back to him -- seeing a resurrection would tend to do this -- so we need to continue our concern for those who have gone away.  It may be that they will yet come to the Lord and serve him in Truth.

There was a time when I was part of a large fellowship of believers among the Southern Baptists. But more and more I felt myself alone among them because they refused to see Jesus in Truth as he speaks from the gospels.  I compromised much for many years in an effort to maintain those
relationships, but with the growing conviction that I was not being true to Him.  When a church put me out of its ministry, I wept bitterly because it seemed a great loss at the time.  Then I spent more years vainly searching for others with whom I could have fellowship.  I visited churches, sects, and communes; I wandered across the land in quest for like minded persons; I placed paid ads in newspapers; I have knocked on lots of doors!  Locally, there remains a small group of friends who will hear me, but they maintain their church relationships because they are too attached to that fellowship.

Yet He is always with me; never for one minute have I regretted the course I have chosen.  There came a time when I realized that I might always be alone in the world and I decided that the only thing that was truly important was the fellowship of the Lord Jesus; if I turned away from him,  my witness would be of no use to anybody -- it would be just another deceptive voice.  But he has blessed me greatly now that, by means of the internet, we can find and know each other though our numbers are few.  

We need also to be patient and let time have it's way with others as well as with ourselves.  One brother came at me with very strong criticism a couple of years ago after finding this site. I had not heard from him in a long time until, a couple of weeks ago, he appeared again in a completely different spirit and attitude.  Now he is realizing the character of Paul.  Yes, you have sorrow now because your former friends, who studied the scriptures with you, have now broken fellowship. Do not despair of them; they have heard something through you and may yet become true disciples.

My fellowship with you and a few others gives me very much joy and satisfaction.  It is the answer to my prayers.  Even though we are remotely located geographically, we can have fellowship in the Spirit as though we were in the same room.  One reason I provide the Forum on voiceofjesus.org is the hope that it will become a medium where we can have fellowship with each other while making a joint witness to the world.

Jesus has told us that we are few.  Hang in there!  Imbibe his Word! Witness to everyone who will hear you; draw ever closer to him and be thankful!  There may be others about you who will hear him. You can be much more successful in winning others than I have been, but even if you must go on seemingly alone, you are not alone!  I have learned that the fellowship of false disciples is no fellowship and that we do far better without them if that should be our lot.

I find comfort in visualizing how things must appear to the Father as he looks on the earth from heaven.  There is the earth, this dark planet, spinning through the vastness of space. Scattered about over its surface are, here and there, points of light!  Often he sees one, sometimes there are two together, or even more.  Surely the Father rejoices in the fact that his world is not lost. He has surely redeemed it to himself and those points of light bear witness that his Truth yet thrives in the hearts of his children on this tiny planet, few and seemingly isolated though they be. He is fulfilling his purpose in creation, which is having children coming to Him because they love HIm and are confident that he loves them and will surely accept them and share his kingdom in Glory with them.  Perhaps, for us here and now, the following utterance contains the best promise of all -- he does manifest himself to us and we have fellowship with him and with the Father, and through him, with each other.


    [19] Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also.
    20] In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
    21] He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."