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Contrasting Circles of Relationship

by Wade E Taylor

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

These “mansions” are not buildings in heaven.  The word translated as “mansions” is the same as the word “abode” in John 14:23.  At the end of our probationary time on this earth, we will be with Jesus in heaven, who ascended and is seated with His Father in His throne.  But this is not the message that the Lord is speaking here.

These “many mansions” speak of different circles, or levels of personal relationship with Jesus, in which He becomes active within our life experience and we enter into a cooperative relationship with Him in the outworking of His purposes – “that where I am, there you may be also.”

Several of these “circles” (levels) of relationship to Jesus unfold within Scripture.  Five thousand men, along with women and children, came to see the miracles that Jesus performed.  These were fed with multiplied loaves and fishes, and later returned asking for the miracle to be repeated.  When Jesus offered them His very life – His flesh and blood, they ridiculed Him and left, as they had no capacity to receive a higher revelation.

At the time of the upper room experience there were about five hundred believers, but only one hundred and twenty of these tarried until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus sent out seventy who were given power to cast out devils and to heal the sick.

“And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” Mark 3:14-15

He chose twelve as His disciples, who learned directly from Him.  If we are faithful in our being with Jesus, He will be faithful to send us out to minister to those in need.

Within the twelve, there were three who entered into a still closer realm of relationship with Jesus – Peter, James and John.  And, within these three, there was one, John, who entered into an experience of “oneness” in identity with Jesus, for he alone leaned upon His breast.

If we will search our heart, we should be able to locate ourselves as presently living within one of these different circles of relationship.  Perhaps we will be found with the five thousand, enjoying a meal prepared by the hands of Jesus Himself, satisfied with the blessings that He provides.

Or, we may be found among the five hundred, becoming weary and slipping out of the upper room, just before the time of the outpouring, and missing being among the one hundred twenty who received.  Due to our possessing the quality of faithfulness, we may be with those who were sent out by the Lord in ministry, as were the seventy.

We may be seen as being among the twelve, walking with Jesus along the dusty roads of that day, beholding all that He said and did.  Or, we may be among the three, whom Jesus took up to be with Him on the Mount, where as He conversed with Moses and Elijah, He was transfigured as the brightness of the sun.

We may have come close enough to identify ourselves with John, who alone leaned upon the breast of Jesus, and heard His very heart beat.  Later, this same John was sent, alone, to an Isle called Patmos, where he received a vision of the One who stood in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.

Those in the outermost circle were satisfied to eat of the loaves and fishes.  The one within the innermost circle was able to reveal the progression of the church, and of the kingdoms of this world, down through time.  Most of us are found somewhere between.

The call of the Lord is yet going out to the individual.

My mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.” Song of Solomon 1:6

“Come, My beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give you My loves.” Song of Solomon 7:11-12

We are either involved in “my own vineyard,” or, we are responding to the call of the Lord to enter with Him into His vineyard.  The contrast between these two passages of Scripture indicates that a change in both perspective and relationship has taken place.

In the first instance, she seeks to satisfy “my mother’s children” (all those to whom she feels responsible).  She is working for the Lord, but recognizes that something is missing and realizes that she has neglected her devotional life.  She has been so busy that she did not take time to devotionally spend with the Lord.

In the second, Jesus has become first in her life experience and she is working in communion and cooperation with Him.  As she develops spiritually, she is gaining understanding and realizes that previously, she only knew the Lord through that which she received from others.  Now, she is able to come into His presence and enjoy the fruit of an intimate relationship with Him.

“Then said Jesus to His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

There is a reward in inner satisfaction (peace and fulfillment) waiting for the individual who will respond to the call of the Lord to come closer.

“His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23

We are called to progress toward the innermost level (circle) of relationship, past the many groupings that moved around Jesus, by overcoming where they failed.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

We have their example to teach and encourage us to press on, into each closer circle of relationship to Jesus.

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Contact: nancy@wadetaylor.org



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