Scripture tells us that on occasion “as many as touched him were made whole" (see Mark 6:56). Yet, at other times, He didn't heal because of people's unbelief. How did Jesus know when to heal and when not to? He had to hear the still, small voice of His Father giving Him a word of direction. And He gloried in hearing His Father's voice.
The same is true of our calling. We know all the things Scripture requires of us: we are to love one another; pray without ceasing; go into the world and make disciples; study to show ourselves approved; walk in righteousness; and minister to the poor, sick, needy and imprisoned. Yet, we are also to do certain other things that aren't mentioned in Scripture. We face certain needs in our daily walk, whether through crises or other situations. In such moments, we need our Father's voice to guide us, speaking to us things not outlined in His commandments. Simply put, we need to hear the same voice of the Father that Jesus heard while on earth.
We know Christ had this kind of exchange with His Father. He told His disciples, "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). He also told the religious leaders, "[I have] told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham" (John 8:40). What did Jesus mean by this last phrase? He was telling Israel's teachers, "I've given you truth directly from God's heart. Abraham couldn't do that."
Christ was saying, "You live in a dead theology. You study the past, honoring your father Abraham, learning rules and regulations for your life. But what I am speaking to you isn't from some remote history. I've just been with the Father and He gave me what I'm preaching to you. He showed me what you needed to hear."
John the Baptist testified against these same religious leaders: "What he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony" (John 3:32). Today, Jesus is speaking to us the same message: "You're satisfied to listen to sermons taken from some reference book. But the Word I want to give you is fresh."
It was in the hours alone with the Father that Christ heard His voice speak. Indeed, Jesus received every encouraging word, every prophetic warning, while in prayer. He petitioned the Father, worshiped Him, and submitted to His will. And after every miracle, every teaching, every face-off with a Pharisee, Jesus hurried back to fellowship with His Father.
We see this kind of devotion in Matthew 14. Jesus had just received news of the death of John the Baptist. "When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart" (Matthew 14:13). (I wonder if he went to the same desert where John had spent years in meditation and preparation for ministry.)
Jesus was there alone, praying and grieving deeply over John's death. John had been a beloved friend, as well as a respected prophet of God. Now, in fellowship with the Father, Jesus asked for and received grace. And there in the desert, Jesus received direction for the very next day.
Immediately after leaving that place, Christ began to perform miracles: "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). That same day, Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand from five loaves and two fishes. Try to imagine what a busy, full, heavy day it was for Him. Later that day, He sent the crowds away.
So, what did Jesus do at that point? You would think He might seek rest or a quiet meal. Perhaps He would gather a few of His close disciples and recount the events of the day. Or, maybe He desired to go to Bethany, to be rejuvenated by the hospitality of the family of Mary and Martha.
Jesus did none of these things, however. Scripture says, "He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone" (Mattthew14:23). Once again, Jesus rushed back to the Father. He knew the only place to recuperate was in His Father's presence.
Jesus, in His earthly ministry, had to rely on a daily inner working of the Father's voice. He had to be dependent on the Father at all times in order to hear His voice directing Him. Otherwise, Christ simply could not have done the things He did. He had to hear His Father's voice hour by hour, miracle by miracle, one day at a time.
How was Jesus able to hear the still, small voice of His Father? The Bible shows us it happened through prayer. Again and again, Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. He learned to hear the Father's voice while on His knees and the Father was faithful to show Him everything to do and say.
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
“Great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16).
Picture Jesus facing a major decision, such as choosing His disciples. How did the Lord choose the twelve from the vast multitudes who followed Him? It had to be a momentous decision. After all, these disciples would form the pillars of His New Testament Church. Did His Father give Him the twelve names while He was still in glory? If so, why did Jesus spend an entire night in prayer before naming the twelve?
Luke tells us, "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). The next morning, Jesus called out the twelve. How did He know them? The Father had revealed them to Him the night before.
On that same night, the Father gave His Son the beatitudes, those sayings from the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . . Blessed are they that mourn. . . . Blessed are the meek" (see Matthew 5:1-5). Jesus had received it all straight from the Father's heart.
Jesus lived His life on earth wholly dependent on the heavenly Father. Our Savior did nothing and said nothing until He first consulted with His Father in glory. And He performed no miracles except those the Father instructed Him to. He declared, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And . . . the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (John 8:28-29).
Jesus makes it very clear that He was led daily by His Father. His practice of total dependence, always listening to His Father's voice, was part of His daily walk. We see this in a scene from the gospel of John. One Sabbath day, as Jesus was walking near the pool of Bethesda, He saw a crippled man lying on a mat. Jesus turned to the man and commanded him to pick up his bed and walk—and immediately the man was made whole and walked away healed.
The Jewish leaders were enraged by this. In their minds, Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing the man. But Christ answered, "I only did what my Father told me to do." He explained, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. . . . The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth" (John 5:17-20).
Jesus stated very plainly, "My Father has taught Me everything I am supposed to do." You may wonder when, exactly, God the Father showed Christ what to do. When did Jesus see God working miracles? When did the Father speak to Him about everything He was to say and do?
Did it all happen in glory, before Christ became incarnate? Did the two sit down together before creation and map out each day of Jesus' life? Did the Father tell His Son that on the second Sabbath of the sixth Jewish month He would meet a crippled man by the pool of Bethesda and He should command the man to rise and walk?
If this were so, none of us could relate. Such an arrangement would have no relevance to our daily walk with the Lord. Yet, we know Jesus came to set a pattern for us to follow. After all, He came to earth to experience everything we do, feeling all our feelings and being touched with our pain and infirmities. In turn, we are to live as He lived, walk as He walked.
As we reread the gospels, we see that everything Jesus did on earth was for the purpose of fulfilling the terms of the covenant He had made with the Father. He went after lost sheep; opened the eyes of the blind; raised the dead; opened the prison doors; spoke words of eternal life; performed miraculous works; cast out devils; and healed all manner of infirmities. In every verse of the gospels, Jesus was fulfilling the things the Father had sent Him to do.
Through it all, Jesus appropriated His Father’s covenant promises to Him: “My God shall be My strength” (Isaiah 49:5). “I will put My trust in Him” (Hebrews 2:13). The Father’s faithful words kept Jesus through His agonizing death: “I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:5-6).
When Jesus uttered His final prayer, we see once more the open-covenant dealings between Father and Son: “Now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). And before He returned to glory, Jesus reminded the Father of His part in the covenant: “Father, the hour is come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. . . . I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (verses 1, 4).
What does all of this have to do with you and me? It’s a picture of God’s love for His beloved creation! He formed this covenant because He was unwilling to lose a single child to destruction. Jesus is saying here, “Father, I have fulfilled My part of the covenant. I have brought about the redemption of humankind, and I have made Your Body one. Now let’s talk about what is going to happen to My seed, all who believe in Me.”
In short, God gave His Son, the Son gave His life, and we get all the benefits. “His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. . . . My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that is gone out of My lips” (Psalm 89:29, 34).