Small Numbers, Great Success

As Jesus continues His last prayer in John 17:6-19, He prays a series of thoughts and ideas that have kept me sane at times. Any of us who are going to love others and care for others are going to get our heart broken. It’s part of the package. There will always be folks who we pour our heart and lives into, only to have them walk away from the faith, and from us. It’s happened to me dozens of times. And it wears on you. It makes it incredibly difficult to keep going, to keep giving. When I see yet another person who has so much potential, who has been shown so much grace, walk away from Jesus and deny Him, I get so mad and hurt sometimes. But God always brings me back to this prayer.

Notice what Jesus says in the prayer. He is kneeling before His Father, and claims that He got everyone to the end who He was supposed to. Everyone that He was sent for are present and accounted for. He was a success in His assignment to come and save mankind. No big surprise. Until you remember who is still with Him. He is down to the last 11 disciples, and a few women. At one point, Jesus had 20,000 people listening to Him teach. He was a rock star in His day. At the point of His prayer, He is probably down to 20 or less followers. Everyone has left, even Judas.

But notice that Jesus claims that it is these 20 He was sent for. It was for these 20 that He came. He knew all along that the 20,000 wouldn’t last. People would follow for a while and walk away. He was okay with that. There is no apology from Jesus for “losing” so many. There is no anger in Him at the ungrateful crowds who used Him and split. He wasn’t here for them. He was here for the small group of followers who made it to the garden with Him. And remember, He even knew that they would abandon Him temporarily over the next 12 hours. He would die alone.

But He was a success. He had done what He was sent to do.

So what of us? Should we be surprised when others show interest for a while, but then leave? Should we be discouraged that we don’t have a 95% retention rate with people? No, Christ tells us not to in His teachings. The parable of the sower, where only a small percentage of the seed grows into a healthy plant. It is part of the process.

So, hold people loosely. Don’t take it personally. Understand that God’s plan for you is probably quite different than you think. Be faithful. And be thankful. You serve One who truly understands where you are. That is enough.

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