Sandy Pheifer - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Convention - Sunday Morning, 2018

I liked reading some verses in John 13:21–2,5 “When Jesus had thus said He was troubled in spirit and testified and said, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray Me.' Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake. Now there leading on Jesus bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter, therefore, beckoned to him that he should ask who it should be of whom He spake. He then lying on Jesus breast saith unto Him, 'Lord who is it?'” I enjoyed some thoughts about how close Jesus can be to us. I think we see the picture here that everyone in the room and John was the closest. I think he was delighted to be the closest one to Jesus. Sometimes when we are in a home, the little children, they want to sit beside us workers at mealtime, and they take it in turns. To be close to the workers. It was a little like that here; John was closest to Jesus. It said he leaned in closer. I like thinking of how close Jesus can be to us, and it is a great comfort to think that Jesus can be closer to us than our flesh. Sometimes we hear that our enemy is the world the devil and the flesh. The world is our most attractive enemy, and the devil is our strongest enemy, but the flesh is our closest enemy. There is a verse speaks about the devil as a roaring lion and sometimes our flesh can be like a roaring lion also. Our pleasure can roar out and sometimes jump out and startle us and the way it cries out and it is so close to us. Jesus can be closer to us than our flesh. That is a wonderful comfort.

I enjoyed reading in Job 41:15-17, “His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to the other that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.” I have never noticed before how this verse mentions the scales. I was reading a little about fish scales, and it seems like it is the creature’s protection because they fit so closely together. I like to connect them in the same word all the same picture, and I like to connect that to Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” I love that picture of Jesus being so near to us, and He is closer to us than even our flesh, and we are safe when Jesus is closest to us than even our flesh.

I was thinking of another couple experiences that John had, and it would seem that through these experiences he was getting closer and closer to Jesus. There was a time in Luke 5 when Jesus used Peter’s boat, and I think John was in the boat but the next closest boat and he was close to the experience, and his boat was called upon to help. Their nets were so full of fish they could not draw them in, and he would have experienced a boat getting heavier and heavier and sinking in the water. Things would’ve been opening up to him like never before, and they would have been thinking about the biggest catch of fish in their lives and of the potential there and when they got back to shore, there wasn’t even a choice to make. They forsook all and followed Jesus. We know Jesus is to be closer to us than our livelihood or our occupation.

Then a little while later in Luke 9 and Jesus took Peter and James and John to the mountain and Moses and Elias and they were great men, and they were people worthy to have a tabernacle built in their remembrance. It reminded me of a young brother who started in the work, and in his first worker's meeting he said, “I feel like a boy sitting amongst his heroes.” It was precious he grew up considering the workers as his heroes, and he admired them, and it was considered safe to have the workers as his heroes. Maybe Moses and Elias were like Peter's heroes; the message came Jesus needs to be a lot closer than your heroes. We may admire some outside the kingdom and we may admire some in the kingdom, but why would we choose to be closer to them when we can be close to Jesus? We are protected when Jesus is closer than anyone else.

In Luke 9, James and John experienced rejection by the Samaritans and they refused to have Jesus come to their village. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus in verse 54–56, “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?' But He turned and rebuked them, and said, 'Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.' And they went to another village.” So they experienced this rejection and it is very disappointing when you expect more of people. They proved that day Jesus needs to be closer to us than our expectations. Why would you want to keep close to the spirit of self-righteousness, when you can keep close to the spirit of Jesus?

When John was leaning on Jesus' breast, he was closer to Jesus heart than he had ever been before, certainly naturally and I believe spiritually also. We are thankful for Sunday morning meetings when we can draw closer to Jesus and when we partake of the emblems we make Jesus part of us in a sense. It is the desire of my heart and for all of you to draw nearer and closer, and Jesus always makes Himself approachable and available, and my prayer is that there will be nothing come between us.