A Template for Living to the Utmost


[tem-plit] noun

that which determines or serves as a pattern; a model


Many of you know through various interviews and blog posts that I start every day the same way:  Prayer and drinking in wisdom and inspiration from The The Bible.  With all the things going on around the launch of my new book DARKROOM, I felt it especially important to re-center myself in the red-letter portion of the Bible, that is to say, the words of Christ.  Today’s reading led me to the Gospel of John and I found some inspiring verses which really spoke to me.

Context:  Jesus had just performed a miraculous healing (the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda) and the religious officials of His time were criticizing and questioning Him.  In fact, they were so angered by Him when He said that He had been working with God, the Father, that they wanted to have him killed.  What would you have said, if you were there?  What was Jesus’ response?


I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.

30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

–John 5:19-20, 30 (NLT)

Jesus spoke of eschatological judgment of course, but the main point of this passage is that He had been entrusted with that power and authority, to judge where a person would ultimately spend eternity.  And yet, He came not to judge, but to redeem, rescue, ransom, and offer instead of a guilty verdict and sentence, clemency and an abundant life.  Think about the story of the prodigal son.  What did he get when he finally returned to his home?  That’s what He offers, even though He has the authority to render judgment otherwise.  Grace, a powerful, life-changing force that goes…beyond justice.

But that’s just the context. Here’s more of the point:

Jesus makes it clear that though He is the perfect Son of God, with all power of Heaven and Earth and all the dimensions in between in His hands, could do NOTHING without God, His Father.  Here we have Jesus, 100% human, God incarnate, perfect and blameless, explaining His complete understanding of what it is to be a child of God.  Which through Christ, we are.   I can do nothing on my own…He could do only what he sees the Father doing.  How much more must we live this way?

Jesus spoke of the miracles, the great works He performed in that they bore witness to His identity as the Son of God, His calling and authority.  Later on in the Gospel, Jesus goes on to say that we, His disciples would do the same works and even greater ones.

In this passage and many others, Jesus left a template for living out fully a life of calling, destiny, and power.  He did this in the way He lived, died, and resurrected.  It takes a dedicated focus on God and a complete and utter dependency on His plan.  It takes being aligned with our Heavenly Father’s up-to-the-moment progress, His judgments.  In being so in touch with the Father, Jesus performed many miracles, signs and wonders, the greatest by far of which, the redemption of mankind.

If Jesus, the most perfect human (the second Adam) who was God in human form, needed to depend on His heavenly Father for every action, direction and decision, then I’m going to do so as well, all the more so.  And even if you go by common sense alone, emulating someone who’s life and character you admire and respect is a great way to become that way yourself.  I believe it is so much more than that, and I trust God more with my destiny than I do my own “wisdom.”

So I’m asking you to join me in reflecting right now by asking these questions of yourself:

  1. What do you see God doing in your world?
  2. Where does your judgment come from, your own common sense, or the wisdom and authority of God, through prayer and His Word?
  3. What great works, signs and wonders have you seen others do, who seek and follow and carry out the will God?
  4. What great works will you do because of your relationship with, focus and dependency on God?


Permit me once again to leave you with my life verse:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

–Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)



3 thoughts on “A Template for Living to the Utmost

  1. Donna Dunham says:

    I have read these passages for years and never saw them this way. It makes so much sense now when I read them. God and I have been working on judgement lately. I was not seeing everyone as equal like God does. I was judging them because they had the “wrong” belief about God and/or Jesus depending on which religion system they were involved in. He is teaching me it is not only a sin but my judging them is no different than the judgement He will have against anyone who does not accept Jesus. I understand now I can’t be that judge even if my intentions are pure.
    Thank you for sharing your writing and your passion for God. It is a breathe of fresh air.

    • Joshua Graham says:

      Thanks for sharing Donna!

      I understand what you are saying. We all struggle with judgmental thoughts, whether we are Christians or not. Everyone loves John 3:16, but many forget the verse that comes right after that.

      God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. –John 3:17

      So, I have to remind myself to emulate the ONLY one who had the God-given authority to judge.

      Grace: Power beyond justice.

      Also remember, judgment applies to discerning as well. 🙂

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